About Me

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grew up in Ang Lee's The Ice Storm, contemporary of Judd Apatow. Listened to Free to Be You and Me and Yellow Submarine countless times on a phonograph that could play 16⅔, 33⅓, 45 or 78 rpm records from the inside of a large console cabinet on the floor of my living room. John Lennon was assassinated, the 1980's began, and I went through puberty. On late night radio, random people asked Dr. Ruth all variety of questions about sex. She asked, "Do you masturbate?" If the caller said yes, she gleefully exclaimed "Gut!" in Yiddish, and then took the next call. Went to college, abroad, grad school, work and more grad school. Married, started a new career and had kids. Decided that like Jung at age 37, my time for individuation had arrived. I'm ISTJ according to Myers-Briggs; I'm a five according to Enneagram; I experience "flow" as described by Mihály Csíkszentmihályi. I read The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, but surely there must be more to it than cleaning one's closets. And what is "love" anyway? After one of my children was diagnosed with mild Asperger's, on September 24, 2010, I heard Tim Page on the radio say that he figured it out after his son was diagnosed. Oh.


1. friendship

play. In elementary school during recess, most of the kids ran around on the playground. I usually caught grasshoppers with the one other kid in the class that I could relate to, who was more of an outcast than I was. I remember not being able to relate to what most of the other kids were doing, just running around and acting "crazy." As a child, I often felt like I knew how to relate to adults better than my peers. Adults made it very clear how I should behave and seemed happy when I was well behaved. I didn't know how I was supposed to behave around other children.

birthdays. When I was a small child, at one of my first birthday parties, I just hid under the dining room table and wouldn't come out. I've often wished that people would just leave me alone. I got my wish, and now I'm unhappy. Actually, I don't want to be left alone. I want to have friends. I remember one of my siblings saying to me that I didn't have any friends, and my parents had to find friends for me. Obviously, this made me feel bad and I said it wasn't true, even though I suspected it was true. I have never felt confident in my friendships. I have never felt like someone was my best friend or that I was another person's best friend.

conventions. When I was 13, I had the mother of all birthday parties, a Bar Mitzfah. When you lack confidence about who your friends are, birthday parties are stressful, so I was of course anxious about my Bar Mitzfah party. I remember thinking that my Bar Mitzfah was like an important homework assignment that didn't actually mean anything to me. I didn’t make a speech, for the simple reason that I didn't have to, and I didn't want to. I did not have any feelings about the experience. Afterwards, I wrote the thank-you notes that were part of the Bar Mitzfah invitation package, and I remember leaving off the "Dear" salutation and the "Love" valediction for the ones addressed to my parents' friends. How could they be "dear" to me and how could I "love" them if I didn't even know who they were? Of course, I had to go back and change those before they were mailed. My actions were interpreted as rude and lazy, even though that was not my intent at all. To me, it seemed extremely odd to tell people that they were "dear" and that I "loved" them, when in fact I didn't even have the slightest idea who they were.

presentation. I've often had trouble giving and accepting gifts. It seems like the ideal gift would be something that the person wants but does not already have and cannot or would not buy for themselves. Since it's frequently difficult to ascertain what such a thing would be, people usually get gifts they don't want, especially if they're picky, like me. What am I supposed to do when I get something I don't want. I think I'm supposed to pretend that I actually do want it and I'm supposed to make the other person feel good about giving it to me. If that's what I'm supposed to do, that's fine, but in that case getting gifts doesn't make me happy. It just forces me to lie to somebody to try to make the gift giver happy. In order to avoid giving another person something they don't want, I might ask the person what they want. But then the "gift" concept is apparently lessened by the fact that I did not choose the gift. In fact, I could have just as easily given the person cash in order to buy the thing. On the other hand, the gift could be the act of buying the thing and delivering it to the other person. In some cases, a thing is hard to find, or the person receiving the gift might know the general or specific function they want the thing to do, but they don't know which type or brand of product will perform that function. So the gift could be figuring that out for the other person. Still, the person is likely not to want the thing I buy if the person is not able to or does not want to tell me exactly what they want. It would seem like a better practice to tell the person exactly what I intend to buy before buying it. Most people don't like to spend the time and effort to return something. Of course I could give the gift with the understanding that if the person doesn't want it, I will be the one to return it. But again, the usual practice is to lie and say you do want something even if you actually don't want it. Now it could be that I'm missing the whole point. It's actually the "thought" that counts. But if that's true, why can't you just tell someone that you like them. I don't know about other people, but that would be a sufficient gift for me. But I suppose it's not good enough to just tell someone how you feel. You have to demonstrate it by doing something that requires a concerted effort. I have found, however, that in reality the other person doesn't know how much effort you expended buying the gift, and how much they like the gift really has little correlation to that effort. A gift is supposed to be wrapped and is supposed to come with a card. I can't understand either of these things at all. If someone comes to my house and gives me a wrapped gift, that's just an extra layer of packaging I have to get through to get to the present. It's hard enough opening packaging these days without that extra layer. Also, since I'm generally the one to ensure that garbage is taken away from my house so that it doesn't accumulate on my property, the wrapping paper creates that much extra work for me. And I know that even though the garbage does eventually get transported away from my property never to be seen again by me, it does not actually disappear. All of that wrapping paper is sitting in a landfill somewhere, or perhaps it was incinerated and it's in the atmosphere somewhere. That's on top of the energy that was used to manufacturer the wrapping paper and transport it to me in the first place. Everything I said about the wrapping paper also goes for the card. Now I know that cards sometimes also contain a funny joke, but the gift giver could probably tell me 10 jokes or more for the amount of effort it took to give me that card. It's true that people usually write stuff in the card, but again couldn't they just tell me those things? That would actually be a lot more personal and meaningful to me. A lot of cards don't even have jokes on them. What's the point of those cards? The whole gift-giving/wrapping/card presenting thing is a mystery to me. To me, it's just a tremendous amount of effort that is more likely to lead to bad feelings than good feelings. On top of that, I don't want more stuff. If anything, I wish I had less stuff. Instead of giving me presents, I wish they would come over to my house and take away some of the stuff I already have and don't want, like that stupid present they gave me last year. I remember in school, some of the kids would hand in assignments such as a "term paper" with some kind of special packaging to improve the presentation of the assignment. For example, the assignment would have a cover page and a plastic binder with a transparent cover and a heavy back. I remember feeling insulted by this. Why would anyone care about the way a homework assignment looked; the only thing that mattered was the substance.

teasing. The whole time I was growing up, boys frequently called me a "faggot." I think boys do this a lot to each other, but maybe they did it to me more than others because of the way I reacted to it. I always interpreted the insult literally, like they were actually accusing me of being a homosexual; it never occurred to me that they were just being mean in a general way, and they did not literally mean what they were saying. My general reaction was to offer some kind of defense of my heterosexuality, although a lot of this took place before puberty so I really didn't even have much in the way of sexuality. Also, I know that I always felt the need to add that I didn't think it would even matter if I was gay. Why was that even an insult? I'm actually proud of the fact that I always felt that way. I have never understood why anyone would make a value judgment about a person's sexual preference. Until very recently, I had completely lost touch with the other, odd kid who used to catch grasshoppers with me on the playground. When I reconnected with him, I found out he was gay. I think that as eight year-old schoolmates, we both had trouble relating to the other kids but we had a special shared consciousness.

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