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.


2. consciousness

other-consciousness. My first career was as a teacher. This was a terrible choice of careers for me, because I lacked the charisma and persuasive ability to motivate the students or to get them to like or respect me. After teaching three years in three different schools, I was again out of work. I applied for many jobs and sometimes got interviews (on paper, I had a great resume). After one interview, I was asked to wait outside while the group of people who interviewed me were talking about me. They did not know it, but I could hear what they were saying. I overheard someone say that the school should not hire me, because I did not smile once during the entire interview. So when I was 26 years old, after being a secondary school teacher for three years, I overheard this person say that I was supposed to smile when talking to people. I don't think that had ever occurred to me up to that point. Now, I make a conscious effort to smile when talking to people. I was fired from my next teaching job. My boss said that I was the "Pete Rose" of teachers, meaning that I was an expert in the subject matter I was teaching, but my students perceived me to be such a jerk that many of them complained about me and/or could not learn from me.

pretending. I have never wanted to pretend. I never knew what to do with a doll or a stuffed animal. If it's an "action figure," I do the "actions" a few times and then it seems to have no purpose whatsoever. I know what pretending is and I am capable of doing it with mental effort, but I have no recollection of ever pretending just for the fun of it. I can pretend just like I can do long division. In fact, I probably find doing long division to be more engaging.

recharging. Trying to act in a socially acceptable way around other people is an effort for me. When I was in school, I had to take a nap when I got home from school to recharge my batteries.

charity. If I read in the news that there were 10 people on the other side of the world stuck in a coal mine right now who might die, it would not affect me, even if I saw pictures of them and their families. My first thought would be, yes, but there are 40,000 people who might die of starvation today and every day. They are not in the news, but I care more about that. I think my concern is much more logical, and that it's likely that when I donate my money to charity, I donate it to a better cause.

busyWhen you ask people how they are, they often state that they are "busy." What does that mean? I know that some people genuinely are busy, for example a single parent with children working two jobs who also does volunteer work. There are some people who really do wake up in the morning and do stuff all day until they go to sleep at night. But curiously, these are usually not the people who say they're busy. So what does it mean most of the time when most people say it? Of course, most people do something during the whole time they are awake, like getting food and drinks at a drive-through window, driving a car, talking on the telephone, working at a job, cleaning, cooking, watching television, reading a book or a newspaper, etc. But if you spend a few hours every day doing things that you've chosen to do, as opposed to things that you have to do, what does it mean to say you're "busy"? A lot of the time when people say they're "busy," I interpret it to simply mean that there are other things they'd rather be doing than interacting with me. People who are "busy" never seem to be too busy to do the things that they want to do. They're only too busy to do the things they don't want to do. In some cases, it's just one of those polite lies that people tell. On the other hand, I think a lot of people genuinely believe that they are "busy." With rare exceptions, I've never really felt busy my entire life, even though I don't think I do less than the average person. Maybe people just feel better about themselves if they think of themselves as busy. "I’ve been so busy" sounds better than "Yesterday I had nothing to do for two hours, so I read a book that was moderately interesting, and I watched a boring television program." Maybe people really are busy, because they're really inefficient. Whenever I'm doing something that I have to do, I do it with intense focus and with a constant effort to do it as efficiently as possible. Socializing may not come naturally to me, but trying to do tasks efficiently does. Ironically, I always do stuff as if I'm really busy, as if I have to finish the job as quickly as possible. As a result, I'm hardly ever busy. Maybe being busy doesn't mean anything; it's just something that people say when they don't know what else to say.

lying. Most people learn to tell white lies at an early age. I had difficulty with this for a couple of reasons. First, I thought the rule was that you are supposed to tell the truth, and I did not understand that in certain situations, you are supposed to lie. (I've been told that "white" lies are actually not "lies," but I disagree, so I refer to them as lies.) Second, I believed that it was more important to be honest and to say what I really believed than to say what the person wanted to hear. Third, I probably had little awareness of what the person wanted to hear. So, for example, if someone asked me, "Do you like my new haircut?" I might reply, "No, I liked it better the way it was before." Obviously, this caused people to think that I was disrespectful and rude, but that was never my intent.

conflict. I've been told I'm pigheaded. I tend to be critical rather than giving praise. If I want one thing, and someone else wants another thing, I usually think that either I'll get what I want or the other person will get what the other person wants. Usually, I'd rather just let the other person get what the other person wants than be persuaded to want something different, even if that different thing is a "compromise."

dreams. When I was little I had a recurring scary dream. It was based on the feelings aroused by the Mickey Mouse short "The Sorcerer’s Apprentice," in the animated classic Fantasia. Mickey causes a broom to come to "life" but then is unable to control the broom. Mickey panics, grabs an ax and chops the broom to pieces, but each piece comes to life, forming hundreds of new brooms which continue to be out of Mickey’s control. I was frightened by the concept of infinity. Apparently there is something called apeirophobia, which is fear of the infinite.

embarrassment. I have never feared public speaking. I've never been afraid to raise my hand in class or express myself in front of a large group of people. I unintentionally embarrass other people. I point out others' mistakes in a way that people perceive as critical and hostile, even though that is not my intent. I did this to my teachers growing up. I never really thought about my teachers as real people. They were there to teach me stuff, and I either liked their class or I didn't. It never mattered to me whether my teachers liked me. Contradicting teachers is not always a bad thing, because sometimes the teacher really is wrong. When I was 12, my soccer coach was making the team do sprints, and one kid was running a little slower than everyone else. Perhaps he should have had some kind of consequence for not "hustling," but the soccer coach slapped him in the back of his head hard enough to knock him over. I thought that was bad, so I just walked off the field and went home. A couple of the other kids went with me. Some of the other parents found out what had happened, and I remember someone commending me for my actions. Being complimented like that was embarrassing to me.

self-consciousness. I remember becoming self-conscious when I was eight years old. I distinctly remember lying in the bathtub looking at my toes and thinking that I was the only being in the universe with consciousness of my own existence and that I would remember that moment for the rest of my life. I did. For years after that, when I looked in the mirror, I had a palpable feeling of the uniqueness of my own self-consciousness at that moment. I would constantly think to myself, "I'm me and no one else besides me could ever have the feeling of being me." For years after that when I looked in the mirror, I experienced self-consciousness as a strange, foreign emotion.

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