A Most Difficult Post

{ Trigger warning : Injury, Death, Bereavement, Funerals }

 

 

 

 

This is one of the most difficult posts I’ve ever had to write, and quite frankly I don’t really know where to begin. I just know that for my own benefit, over all others, I need to put something down about my thoughts.

At the end of November 2017 My Father, a fun loving 71 year old, was involved in a road traffic accident. He was the front passenger in a car that was struck by a trailer that became detached from a vehicle travelling on the opposite side of the road.  The driver attempted to swerve to avoid the obstacle but only succeeded in striking it side on resulting in my father taking the full force of the impact.

Dad was rushed to the “nearby” hospital (some 50 miles away) with serious injuries but was soon transferred to a larger hospital 85 miles to the north.  There they attempted to operate on Dad’s injuries but he crashed on the operating table and they aborted the operation.  It was at this point my Mother telephoned me in London and I travelled the 435 miles north to Glasgow.

I didn’t know it at the time but this would be my first trip of many that winter.

Dad was in a medically induced coma and was non responsive when I got to the hospital. I stayed up there for a week while they operated and kept him stable in A&E. it was a very stressful and worrying time. However, on a plus side he seemed to be making small improvements.

I returned to London and my work hopeful of a full recovery. Alas, this was not to be and at the start of December I received another telephone call to inform me that my dad had succumbed to his injuries and passed away.

This required a second trip north to arrange the funeral.

However due to the nature of the accident and the on-going police investigation we were delayed in making arrangements until a post mortem (autopsy) could be carried out and the police report had been read by the top department in Scottish Law.

This meant we couldn’t arrange the funeral, we couldn’t grieve properly and we couldn’t say goodbye correctly. More holding on, more waiting and more stress. I returned home yet again as I had to return to work.

Christmas drew near but I had zero motivation for festive joviality.

More time passed and I then received the third and final call. My father was to be buried just after Christmas. Unfortunately by this time all trains, flights and car hire places were either not running or booked solid due to the holidays.

We managed to wrangle a very expensive flight and travel up for the final process. We arrived on the evening prior to the funeral and went over the preparations.

The following morning, I stood at the front door of the church and did the masking performance of my life as I shook the hands of everyone who attended the funeral. The whole process was deeply overwhelming in both an emotional and sensory manner.

As oldest son, I was expected to lead the service, Be at the door to greet mourners, be first to the grave side to lower my Dad into the grave and thank people for attending the wake afterwards.

The following day I travelled back to London once more.

It was then when everything came crashing down around my ears. I’d been masking and successfully putting on a Neurotypical version of grief. I’d been staying calm and collected but all the while bottling up my internal autistic stress and aspie angst. I’d never come out to my parents about my diagnosis and this was not the time to make this sort of announcement.

I pretty much went into a vegetative state. My aspie side could not adequately cope nor process the pent up emotions bottled up over the previous month and a half. I shut down completely.

I knew I had to go back to work, I knew I had to get on with my life. But I lacked any internal resources to allow me to continue. I was shattered physically, emotionally and mentally. I’d not just run out of spoons but all cutlery, the entire kitchen and the house that contained it.

Just when I was at my lowest ebb and thought it couldn’t get any worse, I received an ill conceived and ill thought email from a “friend” complaining about my purchasing him a gift and telling me to keep it. He’d over thought the friendly (or so I thought) banter regarding the gift on Twitter beforehand and called me up on it. This was the straw that broke this “usually calm” camel’s back.  I quite emphatically ended our many year friendship in a veritable storm of four letter expletives.

The worst bit was the breakdown of trust. I don’t blame him for his thoughtlessness. I blame Twitter for it’s lack of clarity. Sometimes a joke in your head doesn’t come across when transcribed into 140..(or 280 is it now?) characters. Meaning and intention is lost or obscured. However, this was someone who SUPPOSEDLY knew me. Who KNEW my nature, That akin to a court jester laughing at the world. Never serious, never cruel, never harmful nor spiteful. And yet, he knowingly wrote to me and took me to task , knowingly on the day I returned from my father’s funeral, and KNOWING FULL WELL it could jeopardise our friendship (as those were the opening words to his email) and yet, knowing ALL THAT.. continued to send the email regardless. I don’t blame him but in all good conscience I cannot forgive him either.

I honestly say this was just the icing on a particularly large and unpalatable cake. I’m now so deeply entrenched in my depression I can no longer see any way out of it. I’ve cut myself off from my twitter support group and closed my account. I can no longer deal with a service that allows these toxic landmines of communication to exist.

Perhaps the responsibility lies with the authors? Perhaps. But with such little leeway it’s often hard to put a complex point across .. or perhaps I should pen every tweet in the manner of dialogue from a book? “Of course that would be ridiculous” Pete said, rolling his eyes scornfully. Perhaps twitter, Facebook and the such need a disclaimer stating that “All opinions posted herein may be subject to interpretation and may not adequately express the authors true views or opinions”

Perhaps my previous opinion was correct.

Either way.. I’m out.

Twitter for me is no more. It’s too dangerous a minefield for me to navigate at the best of times, let alone when crippled and emotionally blinded by grief.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just a quickie re: Re-blogged posts.

Hi,

I’ve just noticed that nearly all my re-blogged posts are broken since I moved website hosts. I have tried to fix it as best as I can by hunting out the original posts on the original authors websites and linking to them in my posts. However this isn’t ideal.

Oh the wondrous thing that is WordPress and the delightful headaches it brings !

if you spot any broken pages, links or images please do not hesitate to let me know in the comments below.

Many thanks

Pete. (The Ageing Aspie)

 

Pouring cold water on any spark of joy.

Now, I like to think of myself as a fairly easy-oasy sort of chap. I’m pretty laid back, non-argumentative and willing to discuss differences with people even if I find their views abhorrent. In fact I try to be fairly tactful in most aspects of my life.

I don’t always follow my own mantra! Unfortunately I have a huge red “RAGE!” button hidden somewhere in my deep subconscious that every now and again gets pressed by someone online when they say something (IMHO) seems harmful and stupid.

Today, this tweet pushed that button.

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Here was someone replying to another tweeter who mentioned a young ASD child who had particular interests in dates and the calendar had remembered her birthday.

This tweeter (who I have anonymised to stop people flocking to spam her with hateful tweets) apparently is a counselling psychotherapist seemed to suggest that anything that did not translate directly into an employable skill should be quashed.

Cue the flood-gates opening and swarms of ASD tweeters and/or their parents flooding in and telling the tweeter above how idiotic her idea was. And the tweeter’s response? Pretty much to block anyone who did not agree with her blinkered world view!

As a child I always wanted to be an Astronaut (although I probably said “Spaceman” when I was very young!) at primary school and early secondary I was an authority on Spaceflight, the planets (and their moons) , the astronauts themselves, their spacecraft, dates, times and the mechanics of getting into orbit and the physics of spaceflight both real and fictional.

Needless to say, I did NOT become an astronaut !

Instead, my interests in space sequed into interests in physics, which in turn launched my already keen interest in numbers and math into the upper atmosphere! Eventually this wannabe Yuri Gagarin , Neil Armstrong or Beowulf Shaeffer (as I said.. some science fiction was read ;P ) became a fully fledged (and decidedly earthbound) mathematician !

The person that posted the tweet that made me so angry would probably have quashed my astronaut dreams in childhood.  I am DEEPLY opposed to this on two levels.

  1. As per my personal case study above, there’s no telling what interest/interests can instigate or trigger in later years. A penchant for dates or calendars may develop into anything ranging from Mathematics or History.
  2. Life is too short to just work. As I have said time and time again , we are unique wondrous beings, positively mayfly in our existence when compared against the vast scope of the universe. We’re all “one of’s”  never before has there existed someone like us and never again will there be.  Life is too short and time too precious to not enjoy life. We should find any spark of joy and pleasure and fan and fuel it until it burns brightly and spreads warmth and joy through your being and those around you.

Alas, seems like some would want to take these embers of joy and pour cold water on them, extinguishing joy and replacing it with cold hard reality and a lifelong sentence of misery.

Choose life.

Why I gave up tooting on Mastodon and re-started tweeting on Twitter instead.

I recently posted the following post Why I gave up tweeting on Twitter and started tooting on Mastodon instead. I had been having a rough time on Twitter and deleted all my tweets and un-followed most of my followers and moved to Mastodon. It seemed (at the time) to be the chosen land of milk and honey. Very little in the way of trolling or aggravation and blissfully quiet.

Quiet. Yes, that’s a word that sums up Mastodon so very, very well. You know when you’ve been in a noisy environment and you get home and it’s still and quiet? For a while it’s nice just sitting there with no distractions, however the mind grows weary and restless after a while.  You might start humming to yourself, tapping on your legs while you look around for something to do – sooner or later the TV or Radio is going on again!

It was the same with Mastodon. It was TOO quiet by far. It has still got its plus points as mentioned in the original post linked above but just not enough interaction (or people to interact with for that matter!)  at the moment!

So yeah, I slunk back into Twitter and started posting my rubbish again. But I’ve come back with lessons learnt. I’ve subscribed to a block list on Block Together to keep the worst of the Twitter troll squad off my radar. I’ve also checked every box on my notifications screen to improve the quality of what I read on my twitter feed.

notifications

Finally adding a comprehensive list of words I do not want to see (#AutismSpeaks for example) into my muted words and phrases and BINGO a much cleaner, leaner and healthier twitter.

I’ve still got my Mastodon account but I check it infrequently. I have friends who post there more than on Twitter so I keep it mostly to keep in touch with them. Perhaps in the future if it picks up and becomes more popular I’ll go back. Until then I’m friends with the little blue bird again !

So hi ! I’m back and ol’ Copper Knickers himself is back on the tweet bandwagon again (and now he’s armed with 280 characters and he’s not afraid to use them ;p )

Autism and the taboo of depression

Black and white image showing male suffering from depression or anxiety

I’ve been away from my blog for quite some time now. I didn’t feel like posting due to a flare up of my recurrent depression. I’ve been signed off work for about a month (actually just returned to the office again this morning) and I wanted to put something down about my thoughts on the matter.

I had originally written a long piece on depression, about how it made me feel, about my thoughts (some very dark) but I didn’t post it. it was far too self indulgent, too maudlin and far too depressing. Instead I wanted to say something more positive in as much as how I was coping with the condition and getting myself ready for facing the big wide world again.

I’ve noticed when people know you have depression they tend to tip-toe around you like they’re walking on egg shells or broken glass. Colleagues steer clear of you and you’re left to your own devices. Depression is not something to be ashamed of. It’s not a communicable disease and you’re not going to catch it off me. It’s a chemical imbalance and I’m taking medication to help with that. I’m also in the fortunate position to have private healthcare so I’ve been availing myself of the mental health counselling options available and the CBT I’m getting is helping me cope.  My wife has been super supportive but not molly-coddling. There were days when I just didn’t want to get out of bed and she would tell me it’s ok to lie in but I should really get up later and get out of the house, get some fresh air, do some fun stuff. And although I didn’t feel like it at the start I usually enjoyed my walks in the autumnal parks or taking a mid week afternoon trip to the cinema (top tip : it’s a lot quieter than the weekends XD) and it did my overall mood a lot of good.

Depression can hit anyone at anytime, it doesn’t care if you’re old or young, rich or poor, male or female, popular or a loner, famous or anonymous. Depression is a equal-opportunities affliction. And worse of all it can be invisible. Look at the sad case of Robin Williams the consummate clown who was always quick with a joke to make others laugh and yet, inside, a black cancerous depression devoured his will to live.

Being on the spectrum and speaking from my own perspective, I find it very hard to open up to people and admit how I’m feeling. I internalise everything and bottle it up until it erupts forth as a seething flow of toxic negativity.  My CBT has been reminding me that due to my ASD I often feel at odds with the world, out of place and dysfunctional. I often feel confused and lost over things that most people take in their strides. I missed a showing of a movie at my local cinema by less than 5 minutes recently (and could have easily walked in as it was just advertisements and trailers pre main feature) and had a full on meltdown because things had gone ever so slightly wrong.

As I said above, I’m back to work today. Is it easy? No! Am I happy to be back to work? Both Yes and No! Am I coping? As well as I can !

The main thing I want all readers to take away from this. You may have suffered depression in the past, you may be suffering from it right now or some time in your future, you may never suffer from depression but chances are at some point either to you or someone close to you, depression will rear it’s ugly head. Remember this one thing. You’re not weak because you cannot cope no more than you’re weak because you caught a cold or broke a leg or sprained an ankle. You’re not broken, you’re not a failure nor a burden. You are that one unimaginably unique individual that cannot be replaced at ANY COST, you are special and, although times may seem dark and cold with no end in sight, you should push yourself to find some joy in life’s little pleasures. There is hope, there is light at the end of the tunnel and you will get through this.

If you, or someone you love, is currently suffering from depression. Please seek advice and support immediately. See your GP or contact one of the many support groups available online. For my fellow UK readers here are a few resources you may find useful

 

Depression Alliance : Charity for sufferers of depression : http://www.depressionalliance.org/

Mind : Charity for all forms of mental health problems : http://www.mind.org.uk/

Samaritans : Confidential support for people experiencing feelings of distress or despair : Phone: 116 123 (free 24-hour helpline) : http://www.samaritans.org.uk/

Without fear of rebuttal I can honestly say “I love each and every one of you.” You give me an ear to cry into and a lifeline to cling to. You’re all vitally important to me and hopefully you all realise that you’re all important to yourselves too. Don’t let the black dog of depression ruin your life, it may never leave you but you can diminish it’s hold over your life and the effect it has on your quality of life.

Why I gave up tweeting on Twitter and started tooting on Mastodon instead.

A little while back I did a think-piece/rant about Twitter possibly being a toxic environment. It got some good feedback and gained some traction (was more than surprised to see it quoted back to me by a third party who’d seen it linked on another site !!) but in the scheme of things it was a rant, and once written I didn’t really give it much more thought.

Earlier this week several things annoyed me on Twitter. In themselves no one thing was that drastic, but combined with everything else going on at the moment I decided that enough was enough and to cut my losses and run.

Normally, what I’ve done in the past is simply delete my twitter account and go dark for a while. This rarely works as my curiosity over my “friends” on Twitter gets the better of me and I start reading, then I’ll create a surrogate account to post a response, then I’m back up to my neck in the mire of tweets once again.

This time I used an app to delete all my tweets. I say “all” for some reason it’s still listing 17 tweets but for the life of me I cannot see them! However, pretty much anything I’ve written over the last few months has been wiped. I created myself a Mastodon account under the same name on one of the mastodon instances (@copernicusCF@mathstodon.xyz) and posted my introduction over there.

I can’t say it’s quite got the same feel as Twitter. Twitter would be a vast convention hall with swarms of people all shouting and passing messages among each other. This convention hall would have groups of people standing around in clumps talking among themselves with people milling around between the groups. Mastodon is … well… more like a local pub with some people in the back room. There’s another pub next door and there’s people in there too but we’re not part of that group. However thanks to both pubs having the back doors open we can shout across the fence and get responses back that way 😉

In essence I’ve gone from 250 followers to 2 and from 7000+ tweets to about 7 toots. And you know what? It’s great. I am as guilty as everyone else, but I had gathered followers just for the sake of gathering followers. It’s seen as a measure of importance, someone with 500,000 followers is seen to be more important and influential than someone with just 500. It’s all about accruing social capital. The more you have the better the person you are seen to be. Vacuous posts and duckface selfies get more likes and exposure than any meaningful tweet. The restrictive 140 character limit means any serious discussion is spread out over many threaded tweets. Anything you post is at threat of some random troll jumping on you from a great height and every idea or theory has an equally loud anti-idea group chomping at the bit just itching to tear strips off you.

So why Mastrodon? Why not just give up? I suppose I could just concentrate on the blog but twitter gave me “instant gratification” I could respond to someone and get nigh on instantaneous feedback. However, everything you post on Twitter is used by Twitter to make money for Twitter. Your data is scrutinised, packaged, sold to advertisers who direct targeted ad campaigns directly into your feed. There’s no moderation and no moderators. Hate groups and science deniers post their hateful vitriol. Mastodon is moderated, each instance is a separate node run by a group of moderators. My instance Mathstodon.xyz is predominantly aimed at mathematicians like me. I know when I look at my local moderated (federated) feed it’s going to be predominantly stuff I want to see. Mastodon also allows me to prefix my toots (the pachyderm version of tweets) with content warnings so I don’t need to see things I don’t want to. And of course, let’s not forget that lovely 500 character limit. Still classified as microblogging but not so restrictive as a tweet. No more will I need 2 concat-N-8 and abbrev-8 my Tweets to fit in chr limit !! 500 characters gives me just that little extra space to put my thoughts down concisely and succinctly without resorting to the dilemma of “Do I misspell this word or leave out the punctuation to make it fit?”

Mastodon has a long way to go yet. It’s hard to find people on there but that’s a good thing. It’s got features missing in Twitter but unfortunately it’s missing some in return. It’s not perfect but it’s a good start.

I’ll still be reading Twitter, but for the most part I’ll be conducting my social media communication over Mastodon. Hope to see you over there.

Shiny Aspie People (Apologies to REM!)

Following a twitter conversation late last week I was introduced to two phrases I’d not currently heard before “Aspie Supremacists” and “Shiny Aspies”. I had to google both these terms to fully understand their meaning. From what I’ve read, Aspie supremacists are autistic people who hate autism, autistic people who revel in the fact that they, themselves, do not appear autistic and can pass with little effort for someone who’s Neurotypical.  They like to use the terms “high functioning” and how Aspergers isn’t a form of Autism but a completely separate neurotype. They will even go as far as describing Autism as a disability and by nature of their perceived lack of disability they are better than “everyday” autistic people. Some even go as far as claiming their particular brand of neurotype makes them not only superior to “lowly autists” but also most neurotypicals too. They see their Aspergers as a gift, a superior form of thinking unclouded by emotions, purely logical and focused.

There is a distinct overlap between the more extreme Aspie supremacists and so-called “shiny aspies”. For the most part (from what I’ve read at least) Shiny aspies admit they are on the autistic spectrum. They too often refer to themselves as “high functioning” and take pride in their achievements such as being able to talk to people, holding down a job, dating and getting married and all the other trappings associated with successful neurotypical lifestyles.

They often go out of their way to appear “normal” and “pass” in their day-to-day life. When they do let their aspie side show it’s in controlled bursts of geekery, presented to their neurotypical peers in a way that would seem non-threatening. They’ll impart their extensive knowledge of Star Trek or Wax lyrical about number theory, sing Lehrer’s elements song or quote Pi to 250 decimal places.

They tend to look down on less fortunate autistics and consider themselves above them and superior to them. When undergoing diagnosis they sigh in relief at a diagnosis of Aspergers but would protest and appeal against a diagnosis of Autism. Autists are disabled, they are not ergo they are not autistic. They may be on the spectrum but they themselves are so far removed from the poor disabled low functioning autists that they’re practically a different species.

And this is the point where this blog post takes a slightly unexpected and dark turn.

I myself am, what most people would call, a shiny aspie.

WAIT!! No… Don’t jump to conclusions. I DO NOT consider myself separate from my autistic cousins; I DO NOT consider myself superior in any manner to other autistic people. I realise that I am autistic by definition and by diagnosis. We’re all in this boat together and no one of us is any better than the rest.

However…

I do pass very well. I hold conversations and host dinner parties. I will hold a person’s gaze when talking to them and ensure to return eye contact where appropriate. I do not talk with a monotone robotic voice, I joke, I laugh. I revel in my work, a high paid job for a very large multinational company. I’m married and my wife and I own our house in the suburbs. I’m intelligent. I’ve a masters degree in mathematics and I was once a fully paid up member of Mensa. And yes, I too sing Lehrer’s elements song and can quote pi to 250 decimal places. Look at me and you do not see someone with autism, look at me and you see a successful middle-aged middle-class man with odd geeky quirks. I’m oddly naïve at times and sometimes don’t always get what people are asking me. I can get confused easily but this is usually attributed to my “mad scientist / bumbling professor” demeanor. I refuse to show my aspie side in public. I deny who I am with a perpetual mask of normality.

I don’t feel autistic. Maybe because I wasn’t diagnosed until I was 46. By then my mask and my quirks had fully integrated into who I was. Only via twitter and this blog have I started to truly explore my autistic side. I realise I’ve more in common with my autistic brethren than I first thought.

I’m thankful that I pass so easily. I have it easy. I’ve got “neurotypical privilege” coming out of my ears. As I get older and more tired from wearing this mask, more and more I’ll inadvertently let it slip. My shine is becoming tarnished with time, I can no longer classify myself as a shiny aspie.

I’m Pete and I’m autistic.

I’m not disabled!

I *could* just leave this blog entry there. Three words on the title “I’m not disabled!” and call it a day. Although I guess that’s not really why you, gentle reader, are here is it?

I’m an aspie, I’m on the autistic spectrum, I’m a mathematician, I’m a husband, I’m a punster, I’m a steampunk aficionado and I’m pretty handy in the kitchen. I’m all these things and more, but there are two things I’m most certainly not.

  1. I’m not disabled.
  2. I’m not gifted.

Over the last few weeks I’ve had well-meaning (and some NOT SO well meaning) Neurotypical types put me in one of those two categories against my will. Let me explain why I don’t feel either of those terms applies to me. (Note this is me talking about me here. I am using first person narrative here. I know some aspies and auties DO consider themselves either disabled or gifted – or both! – that’s perfectly fine. It just doesn’t apply to me).

Let me give you a bit of background here. I have an MSc in mathematics (cliché alert!) I’m a white cisgender male (cliché alert!) with an interest in sci-fi, science, puzzles and memorising facts and figures about movies (cliché aler… ooh my cliché klaxon has over heated!). Yes I’m afraid to admit I’m the poster boy for Hollywood autists. I should point out however I’m no Rainman-esque savant. I’m certainly nothing like young Simon in ‘Mercury Rising’ either. Ok yes, I bought the GCHQ puzzle book and, yes I had a good crack at some of the enigmas contained therein. I CERTAINLY couldn’t just pick up the book and decipher them with just a glance at the page! Like my MSc qualification, I had to work at them. Yet, somehow when I tell NT’s I’m a mathematician AND an aspie they sort of look at me like I’m a cheat! “Well of COURSE you passed your maths degree when you sneaked that quantum supercomputer filled with all the answers into the exams! Anyone would have passed if they did the same..” (no one actually said those exact words but I’ve had similar implied to me in the past) . Let me say two things here. 1. When I sat my exams and did my MSc I didn’t know I was on the spectrum. I was just a nerdy math obsessed geek with terrible social skills. 2. (I need to shout this) AUTISM IS NOT A GIFT!  It’s not some magic information processing system that gives the owner superhuman levels of perception and calculation! I had to study hard, revise long and was just as confused as others at times. I may have a math orientated brain but so do many many others in both AS and NT groupings. It was a long hard slog but I got there eventually. Nothing about the process was what I would call “Easy” at any time.

Conversely I’ve had people imply I’m somehow damaged goods. I’m mentally deficient and disabled. Erm… Hello! 46 years on not knowing I was on the spectrum here. I’ve held down some PRETTY DARNED IMPRESSIVE jobs in my time. I’ve owned my own flat, I’ve married and now we own our own 3 bedroom semi-detached house and a cat! I’m certainly NOT disabled. There’s nothing holding me back other than myself. I’ve had this argument put to me previously but in reference to my congenital anosmia. “Oh but you’re missing one of your five senses! Therefore you HAVE to be disabled!” again, erm no ! Does not being able to smell anything entitle me to park in the disabled bay at the supermarket? Does not being able to smell anything stop me taking a train into the city centre for a job? Or entitle me to any form of benefit? No, of course not. It doesn’t affect the way I work (it might if I was a perfume tester or a wine taster.. but I’m not and loads of NON anosmics can’t do those jobs either!) same with my autism. I don’t like crowds but I deal with them. I dislike speaking in front of the team but I do it. I get stressed by deadlines but work to clear them (and show me one NT person who DOESN’T EVER get stressed by deadlines)  My asperger’s doesn’t limit me in my day-to-day living. It might make certain things a bit harder but I still do them. I can work, travel, date, marry, party and dance like the next man. My autism is just a different way of looking at things, it’s not a disease to be cured nor a cancer to be cut out. It’s a preference for mint choc chip ice cream over vanilla,  it’s liking Jazz and hating Rap. It’s a personal way of thinking.

No I’m not gifted nor am I disabled. Who am I? I’m Pete.. pleased to make your acquaintance!

Data, My brother from another mother (and planet)

My wife and I have been rewatching all the Star Trek series on Netflix. We’ve finished the original series and are now on series 4 of The Next Generation (Henceforth referred to as ST:TNG)

Last night’s episode was “In Theory” where the Enterprise crew encounter strange dark matter deformations in space-time causing parts of the ship to phase in and out of regular space, but for me the episode is more about Data and his first “girlfriend” Ensign Jenna D’Sora.

This episode resonates so strongly with myself. Data is a friend to Ensign D’Sora, as honest as Data always is, not that he can be anyway else (in case there’s some people not familiar with the series or the character Data is a highly intelligent and analytical android devoid of emotion but with a Pinocchioesque wish to be a “real human”)

In this episode, Data tries to respond to the romantic attentions of his colleague. He’s slow to pick up on obvious signals and despite his vast knowledge he seems lost and out of his depth trying to please his partner.

I was reminded of my early dating experiences (or lack thereof) I was woefully ill prepared for the experience. One of my long time college friends still waxes lyrical with much mirth about the time we were sitting in the student campus bar and I was talking to him about how girls just didn’t seem to like me. At the same time, this girl kept coming over and interrupting me, asking me the time, asking me for a lighter (I don’t smoke), asking what course I was on , who I was with etc etc until I turned and essentially told her she was being rude and to stop bothering me and my friend and I returned to my previous conversation about how difficult it was to get attention from girls.. .. .. erm. In hindsight I see where I went wrong there.

My friends (and I had some, a precious few) loved how utterly oblivious I could be. I would take things either too literally or opposite to how they were meant to be taken.

Example number 2. After a late party out of town a female friend asked me if I’d like to stay over at her place. As it was a long and expensive taxi fare home and I didn’t fancy sitting in a bus station for 6 hours I agreed. She showed me to her sofa bed, then pointed out the bathroom and where her room was. I thanked her and made sure I didn’t go anywhere near her room, after all why else would she have told me where it was if not to ensure I didn’t actually mistake it for the bathroom?

I was in my late 20’s when I lost my virginity (not that I was ever really that worried about that) it sort of happened and I vaguely remember being told what I was doing. I didn’t really have much say in the matter. I was TOLD I was taking her home, I was pretty much TOLD we’d be sleeping together and when I told her I didn’t really know what to do (I had book learning and knew the principles.. I lacked “practical” experience) she essentially took control while I lay there feeling a little scared and unsure of the whole thing.

Fast forward many many years and I met the woman who would become my current wife. My wife has since informed me that one of my most endearing features was my openness and honesty. The very first words I spoke to her when we first met face to face (we’d chatted online previously) was “That’s the only kiss I’ll be getting” as she handed me a Hershey’s kiss as a joke (I had developed a cold sore from nerves and blurted out that I’d not be doing any kissing in case I passed it on) She laughed this off and told me later she thought it was sweet and also slightly presumptuous. Of course, back then neither her nor I knew I was on the spectrum. With 20/20 hindsight all these amusing little titbits all coalesce into something glaringly obvious.

Data had problems with his emotions, he would often be far too honest or literal. He didn’t always understand humour or slang and often misinterpreted people’s words and actions incorrectly.

In hindsight I realise Data and I have much more in common than I first realised.

 

 

7 hours and 400 miles of Hell.

Ok, perhaps not hell but it certainly will not be fun. On Friday I’m off up to Scotland to see my parents. I don’t drive so taking the train (or at least trains plural), a cross London multi-hop stage, then a long stage from Euston to Carlisle before the last train to Dumfries (the biggest town/train station to my parents) after than it’s a good hour and a half by bus home.

My idea of ..well.. I’ve already said it.. Hell !

Don’t get me wrong, I’m looking forward to seeing my parents but I’m dreading the journey. It’s Monday now and my journey doesn’t start until early Friday morning but already I’m fretting. There’s rail construction going on which is causing disruption. It “shouldn’t” affect me but I’m already worrying that it will. I panic constantly about being late. I’m not as bad as I was before I moved to London/got married but I would set off an hour early… then add an hour more for safe measures… then take the train/bus etc BEFORE the one I calculated I’d need to get just on the OFF CHANCE I missed it. So the end result I’d usually be at least 2hrs early for everything.

My wife on the other hand, ambles through life and is usually late which sets me off on one of my “fun” meltdowns. Just as she’s have a positive effect on me, I’ve had one on her and now I’ll leave later than I feel is adequate and she’ll leave earlier than she feels adequate and now we arrive slightly early/on time which is a blessing.

However, back to Friday. So I’m checking the tickets in my wallet every hour or so. Like they’re just suddenly going to jump out and wander off by themselves? But I have to keep checking they’re in there. Of course, a sensible idea would be to leave them in an envelope at home, but then I’d worry about them when I’m at work. What if they’re moved? What if I can’t find them on Friday before I need to depart?

I’ve got my headphones and reading materials. And a phone charger, and a battery pack, and another battery pack just in case the battery pack and charger don’t work. (I have a drawer in my desk with AT LEAST 10 or 11 battery packs I’ve bought over the years)  “if My phone dies I’ll have no music, I’ll have to listen to all the voices on the train, I’ll have a meltdown…” (this is my thought process btw) .. “best take a third battery pack just in case!”

Ok I’m going for the weekend. Off on Friday and back following Monday. I’d best pack a weeks worth of clothes. Well you never know what might happen! But I don’t know what I’ll be doing!! ok so I’d best pack jeans AND a pair of smart trousers, oh and a couple of smarter shirts, and a jumper. Is it going to be hot or cold? Best pack another jumper and a few light summer shirts. Wet or dry? Best pack my waterproof AND my light summer jacket.

Oh dear! My rucksack is getting full and heavy now. Should I take a suitcase instead? but if I take a suitcase I’ll need to stow it in the racks away from my seat. I’ll need to keep watching it to ensure it’s still there. And if I take a suitcase how will I access my chargers etc? I’d best take a suitcase AND my rucksack for stuff I need with me.

Oh dear! how am I going to get across London carrying all this? It’s going to take me longer than I planned… I’d best plan to leave a bit earlier on Friday.

This is me fretting about everything that could go wrong about the journey. Lets not forget about the parental visit itself. No safe quiet space for me. None of my own belongings around me, parents constantly wanting to chat (they don’t yet know about my DX. I’ve never found the right moment to tell them) so it’s going to be emotional overload all weekend.

And then, of course, Next Monday.. I have to do the journey in reverse. Getting back to my London home late Monday night nice and refreshed for work the next morning.. erm?