Tuesday, April 11, 2017

This Is My LAST Blog Post...And I MEAN IT This Time!

Before I start: If you do not consider yourself a Christian, please do not read any further...though all of my friends should keep the title in mind.

In 2008, I did the unthinkable: I left Facebook.  As a means to get my thoughts out, I started this blog, and shared it with some of my friends online.  Since then, it's undergone name changes, layout modifications, and plenty more...but, it's still standing to this day.  It's largely become a place for me to vent my feelings--usually at length--and share them with my friends, though that has gotten me in trouble at times.

So, then, after nine years...why put an end to it? Multiple reasons.  First off: I've pretty much hit a wall with my writings.  How many times do my friends have to read the story of how I became a Disney Channel fan, or the reasons why I refuse to be in a relationship, or quotations from a former friend that were written just before our friendship went kaput? Oftentimes, when I think I have a new thought, I look back and realize--or somebody tells me--that I've said the same thing already.  King Solomon once wrote, "There is nothing new under the sun," and sometimes, I feel like that applies to my writings and feelings, not just the world.

Second off: Instead of sharing at length how I feel, I need to try to understand how others--especially my friends and family--feel.  As a longtime computer user, I can tell you that sometimes the things computers tell you--Macs, PCs, whatever--can be misleading.  A year or two ago, my Mac told me that my iPad needed to be wiped and reset to factory settings, when the real problem was with the sync cable.  I also knew someone who was scared when her PC gave her the infamous "illegal operation" message; she was worried until I told her what it really meant.  Since computers can only tell you what they're programmed to say, you have to figure out why they're saying what they are; that can make all the difference in solving tech problems.

It's true with people as well; instead of taking their words at face value, you have to understand the meaning behind them.  What's going on at the time and how the person is feeling can change the meaning of their words a great deal.  My problem has always been that, when things go wrong, I assume the worst from other people, even if what was done was meant as a kind gesture.  Case in point: You may remember hearing about an infamous incident on Memorial Day weekend 2004, where the youth group at the church I was attending at the time took a trip to the beach, and wanted me to come along.  Everyone involved was frustrated with me because I refused to attend, and me and the associate minister had an exchange of words via e-mail that led to a personal meeting.  The whole time, the incident had me so infuriated that I was proclaiming, "I wish they'd never invited me!" However, now that I think about it, I realized something I didn't before: When they were trying to get me to come, they weren't being jerks; they were trying to get me to do something that didn't involve staring at a screen, and just wanted me to have fun.  No, going to the beach is not my idea of fun, but, I still should have respected them for trying to look out for me.  If I'd realized their true intentions back then, much of the ensuing fiasco could have been avoided.  Similar incidents have happened to me countless times over the years...so, my plan now is to put a stop to it.

Third off: No matter how you try and explain things to people, many of them still won't understand.  All the way back in spring of 2000, my mom held a garage sale at our house.  It was different than any other we'd ever had, though, because we weren't making a profit from it ourselves; it was to benefit a single mother of four who had lost her home due to being unable to pay her rent.  People--mostly from our church--donated all sorts of items for the sale...but, many of them didn't understand what the sale really was.  When my mom saw people's donations, she would say, "That's nice; I'd like to have that," and the donors would reply with something to the effect of, "Well, all the money is going to you...so, why don't you just take it?" They were surprised to find out that my mom wasn't making one red cent from that sale.  Though the sale was announced during church services by the minister of the congregation, it wasn't his fault; he said that the sale was for that other lady plainly and clearly.  The problem was: People were only halfway listening.

Sometimes, I have the same problem: When I say what I say--via whatever medium--people just ignore me, or brush me off, or may hear my words but refuse to consider them.  It's almost as if they can't understand the English language.  Back in the day, when my mom was dealing with being a single parent with a severely disabled daughter, people didn't understand what it was like to be in such a situation.  I used to wonder why my mom didn't try to make others understand...and, now, I realize why: They couldn't possibly know what her situation was like without actually walking a mile in her shoes.  So, instead of begging and pleading with them to try to make them get it, she just lived her life the best way she knew how.

My point is: Why do people need to know why I watch the Disney Channel? If someone asks, that's one thing; however, I think most of my friends either already know or don't care.

All right, now for my conclusion: I'm thankful for you friends of mine who are regular readers of my blog.  I still plan on staying on Facebook and giving my usual updates, and I may re-post old blogs from time to time...but, this blog is pretty much done.  Unless I get some new comments on old posts, which could happen, don't expect to see anything new on this site.  Thank you, and God bless.

Monday, April 10, 2017

It's YOUR Experience...Not Mine

Okay, quiz time.  Let's see how many of you can answer these questions correctly...without Google!  The answers will be at the end of this post.
  1. Who is Miranda Sanchez?
  2. What Digimon evolves into Greymon?
  3. What band has had hit songs such as "The Real Sin Savior," "Smooth Grandmama," and "Narrow Way to Heaven"?
  4. Which sitcom character had, "I'm not at liberty to say!", as a repeated line throughout one episode?
  5. What was Mindy's last name on Mork & Mindy?
  6. What impromptu song did a character sing on the first episode of Complete Savages?
  7. Which celebrity incorrectly answered the question, "How do you say 'hello' in French?", with, "Oui, oui" on an episode of Weakest Link?
  8. Which Disney Channel actress has the same name as a character on the DCOM Cadet Kelly?
  9. Whose perspective is the Star Wars novel I, Jedi told from?
  10. Who is always the last secret character you unlock on Super Smash Bros. Melee?
How many of those could you even guess? Maybe, if you're of my generation or a fan of Christian music, you knew one or two...but, many of those are about entertainment entities of which you probably haven't even heard.  However, not only are those ones I've enjoyed over the years, but, at one point or another, I considered them my favorites.

What's the point here? Simple: It seems to me that, both inside and outside the realm of entertainment, I have different experiences than most.  Sure, some people may have gone through something like I have at some point; I may not be the only person you know who has a "condition" such as mine, or who grew up with a disabled sibling, or who was raised without a father.  Still, my experiences are largely unique among the people I know, which is why people have always had trouble understanding me.

Case in point: In a recent Bible class at my church, we were studying from the book of 1 Samuel, where the nation of Israel tells their leader/judge Samuel, "You are old, and your sons do not follow your ways; now appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have." (NIV) Samuel is hesitant to do this, so, he tells them this:
This is what the king who will reign over you will claim as his rights: He will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and horses, and they will run in front of his chariots. Some he will assign to be commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and others to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and still others to make weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his attendants. He will take a tenth of your grain and of your vintage and give it to his officials and attendants. Your male and female servants and the best of your cattle and donkeys he will take for his own use. He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves. When that day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, but the Lord will not answer you in that day. (NIV)
The people of Israel are still undeterred; they reply with, "No! We want a king over us. Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles." (NIV) So, Samuel anoints Saul as king...and he blows it, big time.

If you were there for the lesson, or have seen the video lessons from The Story, you may know that Israel at this point was likened to kids in middle school: they just wanted to have what everyone else seemed to have so that they could fit in.  However, that was largely not my experience during those years of my life.  At first, I was into Pok√©mon, like the other guys in my class were...but, by the time my sixth grade year was up, it became uncool to everyone in the class, save for me and my best friend.  I still continued to be into it, even into seventh and eighth grade, and off and on over the years since...including today.  When I got in seventh grade, I considered myself an outsider; I was unhappy with the behavior of my peers, and not just at school; my sister had to practically force me to hang out with the middle schoolers at my church.  Instead of doing what my peers--any of them, really--wanted to do, I wanted to be the exact opposite; they way they talked, joked, acted, treated me, etc., made everything they did--even their name-brand clothes--seem unattractive.  True, I did have some clothes I was proud of, but that was because they had my favorite entertainment entities or cute sayings on them, not because of how much they cost.  That trend continued into eighth grade; I was all about things that hardly anyone else in my grade cared about one bit.

So, it seems to me that all of these common experiences that people--of my generation or otherwise--have are simply foreign to me...and vice versa.  I know that there's a way I could use my unique experiences to help people...but, I just wish I could figure out who and where.  I guess, in the meantime, I'll just do what I can with what I've got. 

Okay, now for the answers:
  1. One of Lizzie McGuire's best friends.
  2. Agumon.
  3. ApologetiX, aka "That Christian Parody Band".
  4. Wilson from Home Improvement.
  5. McConnell.
  6. "Aprons for Christmas".
  7. Booker T., the wrestler.
  8. Jennifer Stone.
  9. Corran Horn.
  10. Mr. Game & Watch. 

Friday, March 10, 2017

It Really Is THAT Important!

If you do not consider yourself a Christian, please do not read any further.  Thank you.

I'm going to try to keep this short, because it's getting late and I want to watch Jeopardy! before I go to bed: In my online postings, there's been a lot of talk about relationships, and people have been discussing about me potentially marrying a woman with the same condition.  They're not the first people to say it; years ago, a professor at my college said the same thing...but, I disagreed back then, and I still do now.  Here's a few short and sweet reasons why:
  1. The ratio of males to females with Asperger Syndrome has been estimated as anywhere from four to one to as much as ten to one, so, there aren't many women out there that have it.
  2. When I've met people--okay, they were guys, but still people!--with the same condition, we had next to nothing in common; they couldn't have cared less about all of the things that make me...well, me, probably due to lack of common experiences.  It isn't just my condition that makes me who I am; it's being raised without a father and with a disabled sibling, gaining a brother-in-law at age eight, becoming an uncle before finishing high school, growing up in the church, etc.  I don't really know anyone--with or without any sort of "condition"--who has even half of those same experiences.  Thinking all people with A.S. will get along is like thinking all Texans, or Hispanics, or single parents will get along.
  3. You probably know that I've used the title characters of Mork & Mindy as an example of a relationship.  Mork looked like a young adult, but, he was actually very childlike, and Mindy had to be the responsible mother figure and keep him from getting in trouble.  However, imagine if Mork's companion on Earth had been a fellow alien who was just as clueless about Earth ways as he was; he would have been in even more trouble.  I mention that for one reason: When in a relationship, I don't want the female version of me; I want someone who is the things I'm not but wish I could be: organized, calm under pressure, able to solve problems easily, etc.  If I get stuck with someone who has all my same problems...I'm in for a world of trouble!
As important to me as those reasons are, none of them are important as the one I'm about to name: media discernment.  That was a value I was raised with, but I've known hardly any people my age--even those who were raised in Christian homes--whose parents cared about what they watched, listened to, played, etc.  Maybe they drew the line at outright pornography, but, that's about it.  Much like I heard a former friend who was involved in our high school's show choir say she could never marry anyone who couldn't dance or sing, I can't marry anyone who doesn't believe in media discernment...but, it seems like almost nobody does.  Even some of my older friends will watch movies and shows that merely hearing the titles of makes me cringe!

You may think that is an A.S. thing, but, I know it isn't, and here's why: Like I said above, people I've met with the same condition have next to nothing else in common with me...including rules about media.  My roommate at Woodrow Wilson Rehab Center--a place for people with disabilities--had the same condition, but unknowingly creeped me out by telling me one evening about the first survival horror game, which was so graphically violent it was never even released in America.  He didn't go into any lurid details, but, it was still enough to keep me up late that night.  Other fellow A.S. sufferers were the same way.  Other than random online users or the people at sites like Plugged In or the Dove Foundation, nobody seems to understand my rules.

So, until I meet a single girl in the Church of Christ who agrees with me about media discernment, I'm staying single...and, at this point, I doubt it's ever going to happen.  I know I'm walking a narrow road, but, that's what Christians are supposed to do; remember how Jesus said that the way to destruction is wide, but the way to life is narrow?  Too many Christians I know are way too worldly; they may attend church two or three times a week, but, in their daily lives, they do the same things anybody else does.  We are commanded to "be in the world, but not of the world"...so, why aren't Christians doing that? If people can't tell you're a Christian without you telling them...you're not doing it right!

A postscript: When I was in seventh grade, I was constantly frustrated by the immature and crass behavior of my classmates, and wanted to be switched to a different class.  My mom used to tell me that, if I searched hard enough, I might find someone who agreed with me...but, I never did; even the Christian kids in my classes were no better than the rest of them.  The adults in my life agreed with me, but, they were the only ones.  I mention that for one reason: Much like back then, the only people who agree with me about media discernment are ones much older, i.e., ones at least old enough to be my parents.  Even within the Christian realm, the millennial generation is pretty much "anything goes," which is not God's way.  I'm not about to tell you what you should and shouldn't watch...but, don't expect me to see some trashy sex comedy or torture-porn flick just because you endorsed it.  You can make fun of me; you can talk about me behind my back; you can unfriend me; go ahead and do whatever you want...because I'm not living for YOU!

Friday, March 3, 2017

Why Marriage Scares Me

Before I start, I will say this: If you do not consider yourself a Christian, please do not read any further.  Thank you.

If you are or have been married, I would hope that your wedding day would be one of the happiest, if not the happiest, days of your life.  If you had a traditional wedding, you probably spent a while planning everything: finding the locale, inviting guests, getting someone to officiate, etc.  Unfortunately, for those of you who have been through divorces, you probably would say that getting married is the biggest mistake you've ever made.  What should have been a happy union ended in tragedy and heartbreak, the kind you wouldn't wish on your worst enemy.  I know how that is; I'm a product of a marriage gone horribly wrong.  While I've never been in a relationship myself, what I've seen happen in others' relationships--especially marriages--scares the pants off of me.  These days, people throw around the term "scare" like they do the word "love"; someone once told me, "You scare me!," just because I knew the name of an obscure Growing Pains character, and the actress who played her.  I'm not just saying that it scares me, though; it really does...and for reasons that may surprise you.

What are the reasons? As usual, I'll make several points, and bring it home with a conclusion.  First off: I'm afraid of being abandoned.  As Christians, I'm sure most if not all of you know Jesus' teaching about divorce: "except in case of marital unfaithfulness".  Some have argued about whether or not that includes cases of abuse, but, I'm not going to debate that here.  What I will say is: Though that may be the Biblical standard, Christians everywhere violate it, and have for a while.  Many years ago, there was a celebrity couple--I won't name names just because of how embarrassing this story is to everyone involved--that went through a divorce.  The wife got emotionally involved with another man, and left her first husband for him.  She cited "irreconcilable differences" as the reason for the divorce, but her first husband was quoted as saying, "There was only one irreconcilable difference: I wanted her to stay and she wanted to leave." That may sound like a typical Hollywood romance, but we're not talking Tinseltown A-listers here; the divorced couple were both contemporary Christian musicians, and this was early in the days of CCM.  Worse yet, the guy that she left her husband for was a mainstream singer.  (Maybe now you know who I'm talking about, but, don't say if you do.)  Though not in the global spotlight, that kind of thing happens all the time among Christian couples...which just makes me sick.

Even if there's no wrongdoing, someone can still leave his/her spouse in the dust.  If you went to my old church, you probably know the story of a beloved church member and father of four who died of pancreatic cancer, leaving the whole congregation, especially his wife and school-aged kids, grieving.  I'm sure the mother of that family never intended to be a single parent, and that her husband would never have willingly abandoned her...but, it happened, and she has not remarried to this day.  I've been abandoned by too many other people; just this past Christmas, I woke up to news that a once-trusted friend had given up on me for no apparent reason, and completely out of nowhere.  I considered that lady a good friend; how could she do that to me? If I get married, I open myself up to that...and that's enough reason to stay away.

Second off: I'm afraid of getting abused...and being an abuser.  Though my parents never abused me, plenty of other people did.  I could tell you some horror stories about how people who should have been trustworthy--teachers, supposed "friends" at school, even fellow youth group members--treated me like dirt.  Unfortunately, I have no room to talk; I'm just as guilty of abuse as they are.  Usually, I responded in kind to how I was treated, so, if someone treated me like dirt, I treated them the same way.  Even those who never meant me any harm got treated that way; my immediate family members and even our pets often faced my wrath.  I despised Sparky, a dog we used to have, as soon as I laid eyes on him, and it wasn't until well after we got rid of him that I realized what a grievous error I had committed, especially since I was a Christian when I did it.  I don't do that kind of thing anymore...but, at the time when I did, I felt that I had every right to do it.  Who's to say the woman I marry won't feel the same way? Even if she promises before we get married to never do such a thing, people change, and there may come a time when she feels she has no choice but to do it.

Third off: I'm afraid of getting held back.  If you've known me for a while, you probably know about my severely disabled sister who died in 2005.  What you may not know is that our family situation--which was largely because of her being the way she was--frustrated me for years.  Constantly worrying about finding someone to look after her was a big pain, not to mention the times I had to send my mom to get something for me that she would never use--i.e., a Nintendo GameCube controller--instead of getting it myself, which caused all kinds of confusion.  That's why I viewed it as a divine birthday gift when my sister died; not only was her suffering over, but, to a degree, so was mine.  The many great things that have happened since--us moving to a bigger house, my mom getting married again, our trips to places ranging from Washington, DC, to Lancaster, PA, to even Tampa/Clearwater, FL, etc.--wouldn't have been possible with her still around.

Since then, I've been afraid that such a situation will rear its ugly head again.  No, I don't think my eldest sibling is going to come back from the dead; that's not what I mean.  I just don't want to be in a situation where a relationship--even a non-romantic one--is holding me back.  Before you ask, I don't think my parents are doing that; if they don't want me to do something, it's usually for my own good, and my folks are usually happy to take me where I want to go (i.e., the used bookstore) if nothing else is going on.  However, what's going to happen if I get married to someone who refuses to take me to the used bookstore for some stupid reason, or is adamant that I need to accompany her to Busch Gardens? You may say that couldn't happen, but, I've seen it in more than one situation.  My point is: Right now, I've really got nothing holding me down...so, why do I need to add something that (or someone who) will?

Fourth off: I'm afraid that my heart won't be in it.  Despite being in Boy Scouting for thirteen months, and spending over 2.5 years in Cub Scouting preparing for it, it was never important to me.  I was only in it because someone made me join the troop, not because I had any interest in being there.  That was why my mom decided to pull the plug on it so early; it just wasn't going anywhere.  If it had been important, I'd have been well on my way to earning Eagle...but, I never was.  I just couldn't get excited about it the way I did my favorite things--i.e., entertainment--which I still consider an obvious sign that I shouldn't have even signed up for it.

Unfortunately, when you're in a relationship, it has to take priority; if your significant other isn't important to you for any reason, you're headed for Splitsville.  I've seen relationships end because one member of the couple felt he/she wasn't a priority.  As much as I would want my wife to be important to me, that doesn't mean she would be; just because something is supposed to be important to me doesn't make it that way for me.  I may try to make it important, but, my "hobbies"--which are more than just hobbies; they're passions--will likely get in the way.  Who wants to be involved with someone like that?

This is getting rather long, so, let me list some other reasons briefly:
  • I'm afraid of getting stuck with someone who won't respect my convictions...because way too many people don't even understand them.
  • I'm afraid that sex won't be all that it's cracked up to be.  Sure, the media makes a big deal about it...but, I once read an article in Christianity Today that said that the whole "if you wait to have sex, it's a blast" teaching is killing Christian marriages.  Maybe some of you married friends of mine have a field day with it...but, that doesn't mean everyone does, or that I will.
  • I'm afraid of having children...because I have never wanted kids.  If I found out I was going to be a father, even if I were married, I'd probably shoot myself.
 (There are probably others that I'm not thinking of at the moment.)

Now, for my conclusion: With all this against it...how could I have ever even considered seeking out a relationship? Simple: I've always been afraid of being lonely.  I don't expect to have someone like Ash's Pikachu, who constantly tags around with me everywhere I go, but...what is a wife if not a best friend? For years, I've been afraid that I would have no friends, and, as I lose contact with more and more people, it seems all too likely.  I would hope that those of you reading this would never abandon me, but, anything could happen, and there may come a time when you're forced to do just that, even if it's neither my fault nor yours.  I need friends I can count on, not just people who give a nonchalant "That's nice" when I tell them something.  Plus, I can't live alone; I need a helper--isn't that what God called woman when He created her?--to assist me; help me figure out what I need to do, what someone is trying to tell me, etc.  Since hired help is no good, it seems like the only option is to get married...but, that doesn't seem viable, either.  So, that leaves me not knowing what to do; I guess I'll just have to trust God.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

What I'm Looking For In a Relationship (AKA Why I Likely Will Never Be In One)

Before I start, let me say this: If you do not consider yourself to be a Christian, please do not read any further.  Thank you.

When you were single--or if you are currently--you were probably asked the age-old question at some point: What do you look for in a mate? Most people's responses would probably be along the same lines: somewhat close in age, adhering to the same faith, similar interests, etc.  I'll admit that I haven't been the best about potential mates; not only did I want to marry Hilary Duff back in the day, but, even the female friends I pursued relationships with--including right many I never actually asked out--weren't good matches for one reason or another, as I eventually found out.  For a while, the presence of a single Christian woman made me go nuts; I'm over that now, but, I still love hanging out with my female friends...regardless of age, marital status, or whatever.  When it comes to what I currently look for in a relationship, it's actually more complex than most people would think.

So, what do I look for in a mate? First off: She must be of the same faith.  Everyone reading this knows I'm a Christian, and have been one since 2003.  However, I'm not just looking for a woman who calls herself a Christian; people say they identify with the faith, but have mouths like sailors, or regularly indulge in filthy media, or love to go out and get drunk.  Not only that, but, she must be a member of the Church of Christ specifically.  That may narrow the pool of potential mates greatly, but, I couldn't marry a Catholic or a Methodist, because I'd be afraid I'd end up converting to their faith, which is a big no-no.  You may say, "Well, why don't you try to convert her?" I have seen that happen before; I know a woman who was raised in the Church of Christ...but married a Catholic guy.  He had known for a while that he needed to get baptized in the right way, but dragged his feet about it...until she got serious with him and said, "If you walk out on that street and get hit by a car and killed, you would go to hell!" That Sunday, he was baptized.  However, I don't possess such a power; I have never been able to get anyone to do much of anything.  How many of you can say that you started watching Disney Channel or attending garage sales because I endorsed them regularly on Facebook? Didn't think so.  So, if she and I didn't agree on faith matters, it would just lead to endless squabbling...and who wants that?

Second off: She must believe in the value of media discernment.  Pretty much everyone I've ever known--including almost all of the Christians--would watch, play, listen to, read, etc., whatever, without any thought to its content.  Maybe they'd draw the line at hardcore pornography, but, that's about it.  However, my mom instilled the value of media discernment in me, and it's something I'll stick to for the rest of my life, even if I start living on my own, because it's what I believe God wants.  I can't see how people would think Jesus would be okay with his followers sitting through raunchy sex comedies or torture-porn flicks; if he were in a room where Christians were gathered watching such a thing, I'm pretty sure that room would eventually be in shambles.  However, nobody else seems to realize that.

I've noticed that entertainment is something people tend to take very seriously.  Back in February 2004, I was on the way to a youth retreat, and the driver of the church van saw a car with a spoiler, and jokingly called it "a fin".  Attempting to joke back, I said, "You watch too much Finding Nemo," a film that was insanely popular at the time.  The guy--who was usually the nicest, most easygoing sort of fellow--got a bit upset and said, "No, I don't watch any Finding Nemo!" He went on to say that he didn't care for the blockbuster animated film just because Ellen DeGeneres, an avowed lesbian, was the voice of Dory; other than some punk kid who was too "hard" for such a thing, that church van driver was the only person I knew who wasn't a fan of that movie.  Around the same time, I had a discussion with another guy about the live-action Cat in the Hat flick starring Mike Myers.  The guy didn't want to see it, because, to quote him, "Dr. Seuss books shouldn't be live-action"; I didn't want to, either, but I had different reasons. I told him what I'd read in the paper: that Audrey Geisel, the widow of the late children's book author, didn't care for the film because she couldn't believe that they got Myers, who is known for being crude, to play the title role.  My friend replied by saying, "Oh, I didn't know it was Mike Myers; I thought it was Doofus again," then added, "Yes, I know; Jim Carrey." Both of those individuals--and others I've known as well--take the entertainment they don't care for very seriously...and so do I; the difference is: I'm up for pretty much any entertainment that isn't morally offensive.  That's a broad spectrum, and most people probably like something that falls into it...but, they probably are also fans of right much that doesn't even come close to hitting that mark.  They could go from watching a Disney movie to an uncensored HBO special without even blinking.  If my friends want to do that, fine; I'll let God be your judge.  However, I can't be in a relationship with someone who does that...because, then, I'll be expected to join in, which would mean a one way ticket to Splitsville.

Third off: She must be willing to stick it to the status quo. If you've known me for a while, you probably know that I've identified as a rebel, and my heroes have been people such as Christian singer Kevin Max, late Apple founder Steve Jobs, and Nintendo bigwig Shigeru Miyamoto: those who thought differently.  My ideal mate would be one to join me in pursuits such as my week-long Disney marathon or reading four or five books every day for a month; even if nobody else is doing these things, she would be for my sake.

In about a week and a half, it's going to be Super Bowl Sunday.  I imagine most if not all of you are going to be watching the big game, and throwing or attending a party.  If you are, great...but, I won't be; as all of you probably already know, I despise sports, so, even if it is the biggest sporting event of the year, it doesn't thrill me one bit.  Think about it: Would you be excited about a Siobhan Magnus concert, or a Lizzie McGuire reunion, or a new 1 Girl Nation album? Didn't think so.  If I even bother staying up, I probably will do a marathon of reading and/or television watching...all by my lonesome.  If I get married, my hope is that my wife would join me in that pursuit, not watch the "big game" in the other room.  You may think that nobody would do that; you're probably right, which is why I'm likely doomed to remain single.

Fourth off: She must support my interests...for real! Few things break my heart more than believing that people support me and what I do, only to find out that they were faking the whole thing.  You all probably know the story of the former friend who seemingly supported my adoration of Victoria Justice, only to ask later on why my parents were "not concerned" about it.  Other people have done essentially the same thing, including via Facebook unfriending.  I don't expect all of my friends to do the same things I do...but, if they believe I shouldn't be doing it, that's a problem that should be squashed as soon as possible.  The last thing I want is a mate who sits there watching K.C. Undercover with me, all the while thinking about what she wouldn't do to be playing Grand Theft Auto or reading Fifty Shades of Grey instead.

It's getting late, so, here are the short versions of some of my other points:
  1.  She must never bring a pet home...especially a DOG! When we lost our dog Boxley in December of 2001, it was the first time our household had ever been sans a canine...and it was a serious weight lifted off my shoulders.  However, it didn't last very long, because my mom decided to bring home Sparky during the summer of 2002...which, to this day, I consider to be her biggest mistake in my lifetime.  I never did like him, and my experience with him and other dogs turned me off to the canine species in general.  I've always wanted a pet free home, and, if my wife ends up ruining that...hello, hotel room!
  2. She must be cool, calm, and collected during times of crisis.  When I was in fifth grade, there was an incident where a kid got his hand caught in a paper shredder...but the major crisis was averted because the teacher, a retired Air Force pilot, responded quickly by pulling the plug.  If he had panicked, it would have been much worse.  Unfortunately, other teachers I had freaked out over much less.  When I'm experiencing a crisis, I don't want someone who freaks out with me, or who makes fun of me; I want someone who will work with me calmly to resolve it as best as possible.  Unfortunately, people like that are far too hard to come by.
  3. She must help me figure out what to do and how to do it.  Recently, my mom taped a weekly list of chores to my wall; reason being that, lately, I hadn't been doing much at home but sitting around reading books and watching television shows.  The sad truth is: Left to my own devices, that's just what I'd do.  I need that guidance, or I'm not going to get much of anything done (at least, at home).
  4. She must be easy to respect.  When I was in school, I had too many teachers who fostered disrespect by the way they treated not just me, but the whole class.  School wasn't the best experience to begin with, but, they made it even worse.  The last thing I want is to be stuck with some woman who doles out disrespect while expecting love and respect in return.  If I was saddled with a wife like that, since divorce isn't an option, I'd probably shoot myself.  The problem there is: The whole feminism/women's liberation culture tells women that it's okay to disrespect their guys.  I've seen it countless times, even in Christian marriages.
 Now, for my conclusion: The biggest question is: Does such a woman like this exist? I can't say for sure...but, if I had to guess, I'd say no.  Most adults--of all ages--don't care for the Disney Channel, and, when you add in all the other criteria, you've got something no woman can match.  That's why I'm glad my parents won't let me onto Christian dating sites.  If I were on one, I'd be in one of two situations: Either I'd still be frustrated by my lack of a significant other, or I'd be stuck in a relationship I don't really want to be in, but entered into due to guilt and the feeling that I needed someone.   So, that's why I'll stick to my fictional superwomen, like Lizzie McGuire, Mindy McConnell, or the Pink Ranger; they may not exist, but they're the closest to my ideal partner that I'm ever going to get.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

...And You Are Not Me: An Addendum

I'm going to try to keep this short, so, all I'll say in the opening remarks is that you should read the original post if you haven't already.  Done? Then, here we go.

My first point: People often mistake me for a normal person because I have the appearance of one.  What do you like to do during the summer? Go to Water Country or Busch Gardens? Hang out at the beach or pool? Fire up the grill? Well, those just aren't my thing, and many of you reading this probably already knew that...but many others who would consider themselves my friends don't, or know it but choose not to apply that knowledge.  I've said for a while that it bugs me when people try to shove activities down my throat they know good and well I don't like.  More than one so-called friend attempted to teach me how to throw a football; did they seriously think I cared? If someone who obviously doesn't know me--a visitor at church, a random person at a garage sale, etc.--mentions sports to me, that's a different story; how would they know that I prefer Nickelodeon to the NFL? Still, too many times, it's people who had to know better...and, if I listed them, you'd be surprised exactly who those people were.

My second point: My difference has nothing to do with my condition.  I'm taking a risk by saying this, because I don't really like to talk about it...but, many of you know of my condition, and have for a while.  However, I'd say that, by now, I've actually recovered; though I still have some residual bad habits from it, you could find those in any number of others without it.  I've known more than one adult sans any "condition" who talked out loud to himself or herself, and who hasn't known someone with poor handwriting? You may be one of those people yourself! As for my oft-discussed obsession (or addiction, or fixation, or whatever you want to call it), while I have a passion for family-friendly and Christian entertainment, not only is that a broader topic than any of my big things in the past--in fact, it's much like pretty much all of them put together--but, it's much milder than it was back in the day.  If you knew me back then, you'd have to agree.  Truth be told, when I've hung out with other people with my condition or similar ones, we have nothing in common; they couldn't care less about Lizzie McGuire or dc Talk or garage sales or Mork & Mindy or any of the other things that make me...well, me.  That's probably because they weren't raised with the value of media discernment, as I was.  So, even among people who are supposed to be just like me, I'm still different.  It reminds me of the infamous Tigger quotation: "But the most wonderful thing about Tiggers is that I'm the only one!"

My third point: Sometimes, people won't accept disagreement with their opinions about what I should do.  Many of my teachers, especially the special ed ones, had an agenda about me they were pushing big time.  One wanted me to go to a magnet school; another wanted me to go to Busch Gardens; and, more than one wanted me to get my driver's license.  These instructors were so pushy, it started to foster feelings of disrespect in me; couldn't they just let me and my mom make our own decisions? More recently, just look at this quotation from a message from a former friend:
But unless there is another medical concern I don’t know about, why haven’t you learned to drive? Even if you take the bus back and forth to work, you should learn to drive in case of an emergency. [...] Jerry, I truly believe you have the potential to hold down a job, live on your own, and have a happy, full life with friends and, God willing, a wife/family. I know that you have the rocky path of Asperger’s to deal with, but I think that if you are given the right guidance, you can overcome the obstacles in your way. It may take longer for you to reach, but that goal is attainable for you.
 Not long after reading those words, even though my friendship with the individual who wrote them went kaput, I started thinking: Why can't I get my driver's license? So, I studied, got my permit...and then got hit with one roadblock after another.  After my dad had to take an emergency flight to Houston because of his brother's death right after agreeing to give me lessons, I knew that it was a providential hindrance, and I'm not one to fool with the will of God.  Looking back at those words, it's hard to disagree with something worded that sweetly, and I can see why she got mad when I disagreed with her...but, that doesn't mean her words, regardless of the tone, weren't pure poppycock.  I'm even more sure that all that was a bunch of nonsense than I was five years ago, when it all happened.  Like many people, she just didn't understand that I was different.

My final point: Just because I'm different doesn't mean that I'm better than anyone else! It's tough being different, because people get the idea that I think I'm better than everyone else because I'm the only one who knows about something, or whatever.  If you're a Christian--and maybe even if you aren't--you have probably heard the verse from Psalms quoted where David says he is "fearfully and wonderfully made".  Yes, that applies to me...but it applies to all of you as well.  We are all divinely created individuals, and Jesus loves and died for all of us.  Even if you're not a fellow believer, you may know the words of the Declaration of Independence: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal..." It goes on from there, but, that's enough to make my point.  I may be different, but that does not make me superior to anyone else.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

...And You Are Not Me

All the way back in 2006, it was time for that rite of passage: my senior prom.  Just like every other year, people paid big bucks for suits, dresses, limos, and what-not, and probably every member of my graduating class was there...except for me.  In fact, I never went to any of my school dances, neither in middle school nor in high school.  My friends back then thought I was crazy for not going to my prom--they told me I'd regret it one day, and that such an occasion would never come around again--but, over a decade later, I still don't; in fact, I'm all the more proud of the fact that I didn't go.  Why? Simply because I am now 100% sure of something I kind of knew all along, even before my senior year: Such a thing was/is not appropriate for me.

You may think, "But...everyone goes to their prom!" Many of you probably have fond memories of yours; you may still look back at pictures of it from time to time and reminisce.  Maybe you even married the person you went to prom with.  If so, great; I'm happy for you...but, you have to remember something: I'm not you, and you're not me.  Just because you had a blast at yours doesn't mean I wouldn't have suffered at mine.  In the years since graduating, some people have even agreed with me that I wouldn't have enjoyed it.

You probably know that former Apple CEO Steve Jobs has been one of my heroes for a while.  So have others who dared to think different, such as Nintendo bigwig Shigeru Miyamoto, Christian singer Kevin Max, American Idol contestant Siobhan Magnus, and, more importantly than anyone else who ever lived, Jesus Christ.  Jobs himself once said, "Those who are crazy enough to think they can change the world...are the ones who do." I don't know if I'm capable of changing the world, but, I have always been one to think differently about things.  So, when people are telling me that I just have to do whatever--i.e., go to my senior prom--I would ask, "Why? Is this really necessary?" In my case, it wasn't.

People want to look for a one-size-fits-all solution.  You've probably seen advertisements that say that everyone should see some movie, or that all young males should join Boy Scouting, or that all women should check out some news story.  The problem is: You can't make such a statement, because all people are different.  What if somebody hates cinema with a passion? What if your young son despises camping? What if your wife couldn't care less about the subject of the report? If you make a blanket statement such as, "Everyone should _______," you're no doubt going to find someone that it doesn't apply to...and I would be a likely candidate.  You may think your solution is for everyone, but it probably won't be for me.

In the past, I did many activities that were inappropriate for me: Scouting, AVID, Camp Idlewild, playing football in my friends' backyard, swimming lessons, roller skating lessons, watching Hollywood Squares and Diff'rent Strokes, attending an assessment at Woodrow Wilson Rehab Center (which is not quite what it sounds like,) etc.  Most of those went against my better judgment, but, I did them because I was forced to or to keep someone else happy.  The problem was: The people who told me or encouraged me to do whatever meant completely well; they thought that, because I was a regular guy, I'd like it...but, I'm not, so, I didn't.  Over time, I learned that myself and refused to engage in activities that I knew weren't good for me, such as anything to do with sports.  I faced serious criticism, but, I didn't care; I knew what was good for me and what wasn't, and it wasn't for my peers to make that determination.

When I was in high school, the church I attended at the time took two trips every summer: a week-long retreat at Harding University in Searcy, AR, and a mission trip to Mexico.  I was the only kid in the group who wasn't allowed to go; everyone else in the group went every year and seemed to have a blast...but, I knew nothing of it, because my mom didn't think it was a good idea.  Many people disagreed with my mother; individuals ranging from extended family members to even some of the youth sponsors didn't understand why she would make me miss out on such an opportunity, and I didn't either...but, now, I do.  In fact, I now think it was ridiculous for those people to question my mom's judgment; who would know what's best for me better than the one who gave birth to me and raised me? Part of my problem was because I didn't really know what the trips were all about; I just wanted to travel, and didn't want to be the odd one out.  When it came to the Searcy trip, my mom asked me, "What is it?," and I couldn't answer her simple question.  My sister tried to explain to me why the Mexico trip wasn't appropriate for me, and I bashed her for it, accusing her of "twisting around the truth"...which was another mistake.  Looking back, it makes me feel dumb to have been so insistent about doing something when I didn't even know what that something was; then again, maybe I wouldn't have felt that way if everyone and their mother hadn't been begging me to go.

So, what does all this mean right now? Simply this: Over the past few months, I have been bombarded with news that coeval friends of mine have children on the way.  While I don't want kids, and never really have, it makes me feel like I'm being left in the dust; their big news is that they're bringing new life into the world, and my big news is that I'm having a marathon of Disney media during the last week of 2016.  The more friends of mine who get married and/or have kids, the more I feel like the odd one out for being single...but, I shouldn't feel that way.  If I can be different by not going to my prom, or refusing to watch sports, why not also by lacking a significant other? Just like the other things I mentioned, dating and relationships may work well for you...but, I'm not you, and you're not me! You say, "Look at what a happy family we are!", while I say, "Look at all these things I can do because I don't have to worry about keeping a significant other happy or chasing a kid around the house!" Seriously, with a relationship and kids, the things I do just wouldn't be possible...so, I'm staying single; call me crazy if you want.