Categories
Life Love Work

Election Day Is Tomorrow…

…And we’re political, already! We missed you, Jon…

Aww… I missed you guys, too. I just wanted to check in and give an update on where my head is at the moment.

Spoiler Alert: This post might get a bit heavy…

A number of… situations, I’ll call them… are affecting me recently. For starters… Okay, you know what? I’ll ease you all into this. Let’s start with the least complex and build from there.

Election Day

After I processed the 2016 Presidential Election, I had posted on this very blog, an appeal for readers to, at the very least, attempt to get to know members of opposing political parties and, at bare minimum, try to understand why they felt the way they felt about their stances on important issues affecting Americans. From the events that have transpired since then, it appears my words had fallen on deaf ears.

We’re more polarized than ever before. My calls for unity are not to imply I at any point approve of any of the egregious attitudes the current administration has displayed over the past almost-two years. My words are to insinuate that domestic affairs facing vulnerable American citizens are not going to improve if we’re all too busy in-fighting to improve them.

In American society, citizens used to come together and discuss issues civilly and make minor concessions and compromises with each other, even though they may not entirely agree with each other on every issue. Although this meant that nobody got absolutely everything they wanted out of the solution they would then enact, it would provide a starting point to build upon and improve from over later incarnations of said solution.

Every man for himself

At some point–I can’t necessarily say it started with Donald Trump, but I have noticed this has become the relative norm at an alarming pace since he announced his Presidential campaign in late 2015–members of society stopped caring about what is needed for a healthy society to function, instead focusing on their own finances. Where the collective focus was once the benefit of the greater good of the people (in general), that focus has now shifted to an “every man for himself” scenario.

Education

When students owe $1.5 trillion in student loans and don’t even have $1,000 in the bank each month with which to repay them, and the Secretary of Education cuts all programs designed to help these students be able to repay these loans without overextending their budgets… Is this really the society we want for our future? We’re willing to keep voting for the people who would give billions in tax breaks to corporations who don’t use it to expand the job market, but we as a society deem this acceptable?

Healthcare

Say what you will about the Affordable Care Act of 2009 (ACA, commonly referred to as Obamacare), but that law gave the option of health care to millions of disabled patients who had been previously disqualified from having insurance because of pre-existing conditions such as, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Cancer, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Lupus, Osteoporosis, etc. The key take-away from this is people were previously disqualified from having insurance because they held a diagnosis for a condition they had no control over having, but the ACA made them eligible for the insurance they needed to pay for the life-saving medical treatments they needed for the first time in their lives.

Then came the current administration… For the first time since it’s enactment, the ACA had not enough defenders in the government to stave off repeal. When Donald Trump’s administration released the revised list of what it considered a pre-existing condition, it had included sexual assault–a criminal act involuntarily forced upon the victim–on the list. To this day, the administration has re-asserted its intentions to repeal protections for patients with pre-existing conditions.

Obviously, you’re interested in ASD if you’re reading this; you are reading this on a blog devoted to an autist’s life on the spectrum as written by said autist (Autist, aspergian, spectrumite… Whatever gets you through this post…). Chances are, then, you either know or love somebody with ASD who will be impacted by such a repeal or know of somebody with ASD who will be impacted by such a repeal. …And they will be impacted by such a repeal. …And at a prevalence rate of 1-in-59, you probably do know or know of somebody with ASD who will be impacted.

Vote. Period.

What I’m trying to get at here, is vote. I’m not going to try to tell you who to vote for and how to vote, but I am going to tell you to vote. Period. Vote like you have children whose futures depend on the choices you make now. Vote like you have people who are counting on you to make the choices you feel deep in your heart are the best choices you can make in their best interest. Ten years from now, will you honestly be able to tell them you did everything you can to give them the best life you honestly could? How about twenty years from now? Thirty?

Vote because you can make a difference. If nobody voted, nothing would change. By not voting, you are guaranteeing that nothing will change. If you do vote, you have a 50% chance that the person you voted for will win and make the changes you want him or her to make. Isn’t that worth trying? Have we given up on each other as a society that much that we don’t even want to try to make life better in the future? And this is only one issue weighing on me, lately…

Thirty… 3. 0. …

This month will mark my 30th birthday–or as I like to call it, becoming six five-year-olds in the same adult body–and I generally get emotional at this time of year as I reflect on my life. This year is different for me for the obvious reasons.

Barren promised lands

If I had been fully employed by SAP’s Autism at Work program from the very beginning–as opposed to being brought on as an intern whose contract timed out after 21 months–I’d have had my first promotion right about now. Things worked out differently, as they had, and that’s not the case. I’m having a hard time in my mind reconciling with that. It’s just something I have to learn to emotionally accept… however much it still hurts and feels unjust in mind is just the way the situation is.

I had so many goals for myself by the time I turned 30, many of which I am not going to be able to accomplish in 18 days. I wanted to be employed–and appreciated in my work–with something tangible to show for it by now. That never happened. At least not with the being employed with something tangible to show for it by now part. I’m on the cusp of 30, and my resume is a small list of internships that ultimately led to more unemployment.

Dystopian prognosis

All I have to show for my efforts over the past 10 years are two degrees (a bachelor’s and a master’s), a failed wedding engagement, and thousands upon thousands of dollars in debt. This is not the life I’d imagined for myself by 30. I don’t even get called in for job interviews, which doesn’t really surprise me given my lackluster ability to get a job offer in the past.

It’s not even a lack of effort on my part. Nobody ever calls me back, and there’s no contact information available for me to contact the hiring recruiter. As time goes by, it becomes harder and harder to explain to my family why I’m still unemployed. The current statistics, which suggest 86% of autists are underemployed or unemployed, don’t help my ability to find work either, but that’s little consolation at a time when the economy is supposed to be exploding with new job opportunities on the market.

Bringing It In for a Landing

This has been an exceptionally long post, even for me. I just wanted to check in and let you know where my mind is at, emotionally. If you’ve read all the way to the end of this post, I appreciate you taking the time to do so. As much as I wish my life had more… fulfillment… in it, this is what my life is at the moment. There’s not much more I can do to change my situation that I haven’t already tried.

No matter what happens tomorrow, I wish all of you the best, as I would hope you all are doing the best you can with what you have. May you find peace with yourself, within yourself, and I’ll try to do the same. Life’s a journey; enjoy it while it lasts, I suppose?

Categories
Life Work

Mother Mary Comes to Me… Let It Be

As some of my readers may know by sheer virtue of being involved in my personal life, I’m attending a very special Social Skills training for the Autism At Work Initiative hosted by the Arc of Philadelphia this week. Hopefully, this will lead to meaningful employment with SAP or another high-profile employer interested in hiring individuals on the Autism Spectrum, but this week in particular is more focused on SAP.

One of the instructors at this training is Robert Naseef, Ph.D. Here’s a bit more about him from our information packet…

Robert Naseef, Ph.D. has practiced for over 20 years as a psychologist. He is a graduate of Temple University specializing in families of children with disabilities and has published several articles on the subject, including the book Special Children, Challenged Parents: The Struggles and Rewards of Raising a Child With a Disability (1997) Dr. Naseef co-edited Voices From The Spectrum (2006) with Dr. Ariel.

Dr. Naseef presents locally, nationally, and internationally on issues related to family life with special needs and has a special interest in the psychology of men. In 2008, Variety, The Children’s Charity honored him for his contributions to the autism community. He is a board member of the Philadelphia Society of Clinical Psychologists.

Dr. Robert Naseef

In today’s session, Dr. Naseef had some nifty ideas about ASD and Acceptance that resonated with me, and he has granted me permission to share them with you.

Everybody is becoming aware that ASD exists, nowadays, assuming that they aren’t already. With numbers like 1-in-68, it’s hard not to. I once asked on this blog how our society advances to the next step to true societal integration and equality amongst our peers: Acceptance.

Now, in order for others to accept us for who we are, we must first accept ourselves for who we are. Make sense? Be the change you want to be in the world, so to speak. Show others how it’s done.

But what is Acceptance, in the first place?

In order to understand what it is, we must first understand what it isn’t. Here are a few ground rules:

  1. You don’t necessarily have to “want” or “like” the fact that you were born with an ASD. (Dirty secret confession time: There are times I view my Asperger’s Syndrome as being blessed with a curse. To be fair, that’s true part of the time… and false at others.)
  2. You don’t have to change your opinion on your experiences with ASD.
  3. It’s not resigning yourself to the fact that you’ll always have ASD for the rest of your life and using it as a crutch. (Crutch: noun: a mitigating excuse used to avoid accountability for one’s actions)
  4. You don’t have to throw in the towel on your life or any opportunities you may have yet to discover are even options in your life.

In short: DON’T GIVE UP!

Now that we know what mindsets to avoid, let’s talk about how to talk to others about Acceptance.

  1. Acceptance is the acknowledgement of the 5 Moments Everyone Will Experience in Their Lifetimes (First mentioned here.) To refresh your memories, those moments are…
    1. the Ugly
    2. the Bad
    3. the Indifferent
    4. the Good
    5. the Beautiful
  2. We must also acknowledge that for every opportunity, there is an alternative. So, even if you don’t get that job, or your relationship doesn’t work out the way you wanted it to… whatever situation didn’t go your way, there’s always the chance that some other opportunity that you didn’t even know existed may come along that may be an even better fit for you.
  3. Life is hard. Sometimes, we must face this reality head-on and learn from these experiences, no matter how painful they may be. Remember… The Ugly and the Bad exist for a reason.

Hang in there, Homer J. We’ll get through it, together…

There’s an old Beatles song called Let It Be, which I used to listen to when I would become depressed. Maybe you might have heard of it.

When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me, speaking words of wisdom: Let it be.

To this, I offer my own song (Because you all knew I would. It’s just what I do. For those of you just tuning in, “Hiya! This is what I’m like.”)

I don’t wanna fight anymore. I just wanna sleep.

Anger takes so much of me. I could just lie here and weep.

Tomorrow’s not guaranteed anymore, and I can’t go back to the past.

But if I just focus on now, there’s no telling how long it’ll last.

I just have to take it slow. One day at a time.

Things just happen with no reason and no rhyme.

Tomorrow will be better. I believe. It’s all I can do.

If you want a background tune, I just saw Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection F last night, so the end credit song, Pledge of Z is still fresh in my head as a basis for this song. It may not fit exactly, but you get the idea.

The point I’m trying to make with all of this is we can all talk a good game about Autism Awareness and Acceptance, but how do we truly achieve this? I hope I’ve given you plenty to think about on this.

As always, may you find peace with yourself, within yourself.

PS — Go see Resurrection F if you’re able to. It’s so worth it. Not really relevant to anything on the blog; I just wanted to share that with you. I found it very enjoyable. Aren’t these little side conversations nice to have once in a while?

Categories
Life Work

These are a few of my [least] favorite things…

Have you ever felt so close to major progress that it frustrates you to no end when it doesn’t work out?

For me, it happens every time. I recently heard about SAP’s Autism at Work Initiative. I figured, “Great! This is just what I needed!” Only, things are moving so slow, I wonder if I’ll even get my foot in the door.

I’m still looking at other opportunities for employment, but so far, nothing solid has cropped up. I define “solid” as any opportunity that I have been contacted back about. So far, nada. Not so much as an interview.

It doesn’t always refer to my professional career, either. In my personal life, things are moving slowly, too. So slow, I’m pretty sure I’ll be single for the next while.

Even in the event that somebody says, “Sure! Let’s meet up!” it still doesn’t guarantee that anything will ever come of it. I’ve known that for the past eight years straight.

So how does one vent these frustrations? I’m still working on an answer for that for myself.

In the meantime, I’ve had so much time on my hands, I don’t know what to do with it all. My friends all work, so hanging out isn’t always an option. Some of my friends hold more than one job at a time. (You’d think they could learn to share. :P)

Meanwhile, I’m driving myself nuts just trying to find something constructive to do with my mass abundance of free time.

I figure sooner or later this has to end, so that’s something that’s still keeping me sane right now.

In other frustrations news, I submitted a screenplay to a screenwriting contest five months ago, and I still won’t know how I did until September at the very earliest.

Sometimes, you just have to wonder, “When will it be my turn for progress?” Sometimes, you may not like the answer. Other times, you might. Right now, I feel so close to the answer, that I’m almost afraid to face it when it does come.

I hope all of you are having more fun this summer than I am, right now.

At least I still have that M.A. to fall back on, right? Right?

Categories
Love School Work

Eh… What’s Up, Doc?

My goodness, it’s been a long while since I last updated the blog with any substantial… well, updates (redundancy be damned).

The biggest update would have to be that I am a fully accepted graduate student now. No more of that silly provisional status.

I didn’t say I’D stop being silly…

My current GPA is a whopping 3.56 in grad school. I haven’t seen a cumulative number that high since high school!

I am now in the third week of my second semester out of five at SJU, and I could never be happier. Well, actually, that’s a bit of a stretch; I could have a job and my own apartment. Never let it be said that I look gift horses in the mouth.

…Most of the time, anyway.

Now that I know I’ve survived a round of graduate study, I’ve begun to think of what I might concentrate on in practical terms. I’ve always tried my hardest to help others. I am a creative writer. That creativity is my greatest asset, so why not combine my writing with my desire to help others (beside this blog)? What could I possibly have in mind for that?

It’s simple, really. I plan on finding out from my advisor how I would go about getting my Level I teaching certification for English at the Secondary Education level (that would be grades 7-12 for those of you playing the home game). I know I’ve said that many times in the past and haven’t followed through on that plan yet, but I’m gaining focus in my life beyond schooling. For the first time since high school, I have a solid plan for the longer term. My life will not lose its purpose after getting my master’s degree. That MA is merely a stepping stone for me. I’ve done some preliminary research on the Praxis requirements, and I’m fairly certain I can pass the Praxis II for 7th-12th grade English. Apparently, I don’t need to take the Praxis I — or rather its replacement test — because I already have my bachelor’s degree. Here’s hoping the best for 2013!

In other news, Valentine’s Day is coming up. Historically, I’d be depressed by now, but for some odd reason, I’m at peace with myself. I don’t know why, but I have more confidence about this year than in years past. I can’t explain the feeling nor can I explain what I’m thinking, but I’m more optimistic that I will be okay, even if I don’t have anything to do on February 14. I’ve been trying in vain to find a relationship for about eight years. Somehow, that doesn’t matter at the present moment. I just know that it will eventually happen. I have more important worries to focus on right now, worries like graduate school and making my goals a reality.

For the first time in a long time, I feel like I am embodying my catchphrase, “Find peace with yourself, within yourself.” That is the power of a stress-free moment of clarity. In case I don’t see you for another while, have a safe, happy Valentine’s Day!

 

P.S. – I realize I’d be committing a crime by not referencing Bugs Bunny in a post that derives its title from his catchphrase.

Categories
Life Preview School Work

The Future is Limitless!

Since I last posted on the Aspie Epilogue, I’ve been busy trying to plot out my next move(s).  Drexel didn’t pan out, getting my old job back didn’t pan out.  Nothing seemed to pan out in the past month.  But that was in the past.

The future is what I have left to preoccupy myself with.  So, just what am I doing in the future, anyway?

There are some more updates I plan to elaborate on in future posts.  The following are some updates I hope to be able to post about later:

1) I’m applying for SJU’s M.A. in Writing Studies program for the Fall 2012 semester.  I’m still working on the application, but I will most definitely let you all know how that turns out in the end.

2) I’m working toward a very special personal project related directly to the Aspie Epilogue.  I hope to have the completed version ready by November 23, 2015.  I’m still working on specifics, but I promise you all will LOVE it when you see it.

3) Still trying to find a job.  You’ll be among the first to know when that happens.  I certainly hope that part comes soon.  Believe me, I really want that to happen.

And there you have it.  The past may be gone, but the future is still out there somewhere, waiting to come to light.

Again, I’m always open to hearing about other people’s Puzzle Pride Awards if anybody has some they would like to share.  You can learn more about that on the Puzzle Pride Campaign page on the Aspie Epilogue.

I’ll see you next time, when I cover some important questions many of you may have had at some point or another concerning diagnoses.

Categories
Life School Work

The (Disappointing) MAJOR Update…

Sometimes, we expect things will work out better than they actually do when the time comes.  And well…

This is one of those times for me.

Disappointed Aspie is Disappointed…

You see, I had applied to Drexel University for a Master’s Degree in Digital Media.  I found out a little while ago that I was not accepted to the program, which is apparently that competitive.  Perhaps that was a blessing in disguise.  If the program is so intense to get into, maybe I would not have done so well in it, after all.  Around the same time, I had expressed to Best Buy that I was interested in coming back.  I got to the second interview (out of 3).  I was told they would contact me if I was selected for the last interview.  They never called.  I then found out that my student loans are due to start repayment in July, and I don’t have a job.

The point is LIFE IS FULL OF DISAPPOINTMENTS.  These disappointments seem to be hitting pretty hard lately.  But here’s the thing about disappointments:  The disappointments don’t define us.  What does define us is how we handle them.  Quite frankly, I could have handled some of them a tad better than I actually did.  And if I was rational, I probably would have.  Which brings us to…

LESSON 2: STAY RATIONAL WHEN DISAPPOINTED/UPSET.

Like I said, how we handle what comes our way in life is what makes us who we are.  I know this isn’t easy for many (if not all) of us to do.  But it’s something we need to keep in mind as much as we can.  Do whatever it takes to stay rational.  Because when we become irrational, we lose all sense of ourselves and make poor life decisions…

…which can lead to more disappointments later on.

Do whatever works for you to stay rational.  Even if it means forcing yourself to stay rational, it can prevent you from making mistakes that will lead to more disappointment later.  For some people, that comes easier than for others.  Different people will have different coping methods for these occasions, so I’m not going to list all the possible things you could try.  Instead I’ll just impart some words of wisdom:

“It’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game.” – Anonymous

Likewise with life, it’s not whether you get everything you want, it’s how you handle what you get.  In the end, we can’t take everything with us, anyway.  We’ll only be remembered for how we lived.  So live like you’re dying and take the time to enjoy your life.  Even if it’s full of disappointments.  You’ll never know what it will lead to in the future…

Categories
Work

So Close I Can Almost Taste It

I have a feeling that I am very close to finding a more permanent job.  However, right now, I’m still waiting on permission from my last reference to user her as a reference.  I have already asked the employer to bear with me as I await the final reference, while providing links to my previous works in the meantime.

This particular position happens to be a Teaching Artist job, which means I would be teaching urban youth how to make films.  This position would mean the world to me as it would allow me to use what I know to help others.  In other words, it matches my end goal beautifully.

I’ve applied to several other places but haven’t heard back yet.  I learned the hard way this morning that companies apparently do NOT like to field application status questions over the phone.  The irony here:  Most of the companies I applied to did NOT leave an email address.

This conclusively proves what I have long suspected: *cue whiny voice*  Finding a job is hard!

Think about it…  Not only do you have to be a qualifying fit for the job, but you have to take into consideration references (always get permission first), location (yours and theirs), travel time (if both locations are NOT the same place), salary (preferably large, but beggars can’t be choosers), etc.

And then, when you’re all done with that, you have to follow up with them.  It’s a lot to think about and consider for anyone, let alone somebody on the Spectrum.

Meanwhile, I feel like all my commitments I’ve made are starting to overwhelm me right now.  I really need to budget my time better.  And I need to do it fast…  before I crack.  I’m sure there’s a lesson to be learned somewhere in there, but I’m too stressed out to think of it.

Categories
Life School Work

Find It, Work It, Love It…

“Be who you are, and say how you feel…  Because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.” – Dr. Seuss

Yesterday, I happened to walk in as a Hallmark Original Movie was on TV.  It was called The Reading Room, starring James Earl Jones.  It was about a wealthy man who opens a store where kids can sit down and read (or learn to read in some cases) in an inner-city neighborhood filled with gangs and violence.  Through the course of the movie, William Campbell (played by James Earl Jones) wins over the hearts of the members of the community and makes the neighborhood a better place.

What does this have to do with working after college, you ask?  Well, to answer that question bluntly:  It has a LOT to do with working after college.

I had originally started college hoping to be a Special Education teacher.  After a year of soul-searching, I realized I had a different passion and ended up with a B.A. in Fine Art with a concentration in Film/Video and a minor in Communication Studies.  Needless to say, that was a very different ending to the original story.

I am currently working on an M.S. in Instructional Technology, hoping to be a Media Specialist, someday.  What do I want to do with it?  I want to do what William Campbell did in the movie and make other people’s worlds a better place to live in.

How I will do that is by using the skills I have learned and the expertise I have acquired through various experiences to work with others similar to myself, such as the learning impaired, the behaviorally challenged, etc. be all they can be.

What this all boils down to is having that passion, that drive to motivate you to do what you want to do in life.  My passions have evolved along the way.  Even if you have that passion, it always helps to know what you want to do with it.  For me, I didn’t see it until very recently.  …And that’s okay!  Better late than never.

I remember how hard going through school was in the beginning.  Through the years, school became an emotional roller-coaster.  There were ups and there were downs.  But if I hadn’t had that support from teachers, friends, and family, I would not be sitting here typing this blog post right now.

Some of you in college may not know who to turn to for help and resources.  When you are scared, life becomes scary and overwhelmingly more difficult.  My goal is to use what I know to make life less scary and easier for others who may not yet see their full, untapped potential.  I had that support safety net to guide me, and that’s what I want to do for you.

I have a philosophy that if you put more love in your heart and the world around you, there is less room for anger.  This results in a feeling of inner peace and self-confidence, and you find you will not be as spiteful toward other people.  Part of that is knowing what to care about, and when to let go.

I’ve found what I care about.  And there’s a lesson in that:  Whatever you do in life, make it something you want to do with all your heart.  You will have a stronger motivation to improve, to do a better job at what you do.

I have a little assignment for you this week:  Find one area in your life that could use some improvement and make a change that will benefit you and your world.

No matter what your circumstances are, I hope you find peace with yourself, within yourself.  I can’t wait to see how the world changes for the better because of the lives you’ve touched.