Monday, April 22, 2013

Book, Saddle and Go

Last Friday, I went to my first metal concert.
Both incredible & terrifying.

As far as Aspie sensory issues go, I was actually pretty kosher--I went in knowing there would be loud, and as ear plugs are for bitches, I brought none. I put on my Old Navy skinnies (which the lead singer also wore!) and combat boots, a black tank and hoodie and was on my way.
The venue was big, but not overwhelmingly so--the Blue Moon was 6.25, which was balls, but worth it.
Clutch (the only thing that mattered) had THREE warm up bands, hellooo overkill, and they didn't go on until almost three hours after the show started. To which I was all, grumble grumble, because when you SAY a thing starts at a certain time, YOU START IT AT A CERTAIN TIME.

But, I digress.

A man stood next to me when Clutch were monkeyin' around with their doohickeys and soundchecking whatnot, and I face-smush smiled at him because apparently that's my default "I don't know what to say to you but we have a shared interest and also I'm here alone and haven't spoken in two hours" face. He seemed nice enough, and he held out his hand with what I thought were ear plugs, which I politely declined because, as I mentioned before, is for bitches. His comment was "this doesn't mean we're girlfriend and boyfriend," and I gave an awkward laugh, mostly because that is my default reaction for social situations in which I am unsure how to proceed.
A friend had warned me that it gets "moshey" up front, so I was all steely-resolve face ready to thrash around, as if I had something to prove to myself--that just because I have this condition, or way of being, doesn't mean I can't do things all the other neurotypicals can.

And I did really well, actually, until I realized what Not Boyfriend was doing.

Now, throughout the course of the concert, I was bumped, stepped on, and elbowed--things to be expected when you're packed in like sardines. What was not expected (or welcome), however, was the groping. Thank goodness I didn't leave my hoodie in the car like I'd planned, or I'm sure it'd have been worse. One guy groped my hips from behind, and I didn't pay it any mind at first because I figured they were just trying to get through or something. NOPE.


But anyway, Not Boyfriend.
So Not Boyfriend and I were caught in the middle of all the mosh, and it was sweaty and weird and awesome. I actually felt really safe in the mosh, oddly enough, because it seems like they've got some sort of code where No Man Gets Moshed Behind. So if someone falls, they are RIGHT UP IN THAT SHIT to bring the person back up. And I'm like, respect.
Not Boyfriend had different ideas, though. Maybe.
He got behind me and pushed other moshers away--we kind of moved as one unit. Which was actually pretty cool for a while, and I was like, AWESOME, ACQUIRED BODYGUARD, I WIN.
But then I started thinking about certain social scripts, and I got kind of worried.
It seemed like his hands kept creeping upwards--and to be fair, it's quite possible that it was accidental, as I am quite floppy when it comes to moshing, like those wacky waving inflatable arm tube man things. But when I put all of the things together--the Not Boyfriend statement, the drug offer, my weird face smush smile thing, it occurred to me that he could have misread some things (and that I was unaware I was sending any kind of signals).

I am typically level headed, sometimes, I guess, but once I put all that together my instincts were like NOPE NOPE NOPE and I ducked out and made my way towards the bathroom.
I left the venue very shortly thereafter because I no longer felt safe.

I feel like I totally babbled and lost track of what the hell I was talking about, but here's the gist: as an Aspie, I can and do enjoy things that a statistically significant portion of ASD people cannot or do not want to do. I can blend in surprisingly well, even if I do come off as shy, aloof or awkward. But when the unexpected hits, when a variable I hadn't considered pops up, my flight response (pretty sure I don't have a fight response) kicks in and I'm like LOL KBAI instead of trying to calm down or think things through.

And I'm not sure if it's a good or bad thing.

Really, it just is what it is--the reality of my inability to perceive people's intentions means I am generally more cautious than most, and I think that sometimes prevents me from opening myself up to new experiences and people that could have a positive impact on my life. But for what I lack in regular senses, I make up for in people instinct--not quite sure how to explain it, but sometimes I just get a really bad feeling about a person, almost like an animal instinct, and that instinct has never let me down. I trust it completely.

Mostly I'm just like, dafuq. I just wanted to enjoy the damn concert and people just kept being weird.
Definitely never going alone again.
Fucking patriarchy.

Monday, April 15, 2013

My Ancestors Sent a Little Lizard to Help Me?

Sometimes I'm not convinced that I'm autistic.
I mean, think about it--if I really had autism, could I have gotten this far in life?
Could I have graduated from Allegheny, or gone to England, or France, or go to a metal concert solo?
I suppose if you reflect deeply enough on these experiences (or even just barely scratch the surface in some instances), you can find the autistic-like behaviors, but I sometimes still need to be reminded that I operate on a whole different level than most.

Then I read books on autism.
More specifically, Asperger's.
And I'm like daaaaaaaaaaayum girl, how did you ever NOT know you're autistic?

I think the front this is most obvious on is language. Which is fairly logical, I suppose, since autism in its very nature is all about communicative barriers.
According to the experts (namely, Tony Attwood), female Aspergians are social chameleons--able to adapt and change to fit the social climate and to mimic proper social behavior, without necessarily understanding the meanings behind said behaviors.
Basically, that describes me to a T.

I tend to pick up accents easily, and sometimes for no apparent reason. Yesterday at the grocery store, I ordered half a pound of ham in a British accent on accident (been watching a lot of Game of Thrones of late), and the lady was all o_O and I had to repeat myself in American English. I wasn't horribly embarrassed or anything (and I think it actually might be slightly adorable), but it's just so bizarre. And I spoke with an accent I can't quite place for a while because of a woman I worked with--I just added Ys to shit for NO REASON (metYastasized, cYat). I think one of the reasons I get along so well with the Turkish, Russian and Nepali women I work with is because I speak in fragments to them--"You need? Is done? No light! You check? Give me please red pen." It's not like I'm talking down to them or anything, and I think they know that--it's just that English isn't their first language, and it's a very confusing one at that, so I try and adjust my speaking patterns to something that is easy to follow. Because who better than I knows how difficult and frustrating it is, not being able to communicate? And honestly, it didn't even strike me as an autistic thing at first, until I noticed that most other people in the plant don't make such a concentrated effort to understand and be understood by them. I asked one of the machine operators, a native English speaker, "you need?" as I grabbed some paperwork from his desk, and he was like "LOL, are you transforming?"

Uh, nope. Just bein' a lizard.

Another thing I've noticed is vocabulary--particularly, the word "retard." Normally, I do not use the word pejoratively (although I have been known to use it semantically and people don't realize it and get offended), but in settings where people use it as such (again, at work), I notice myself using it.

This bothers me.

To some extent I think I'm doing it unconsciously, or at least chameleonly, but I still don't think that really excuses it. But to people who use it pejoratively, there is a major difference between saying "that's stupid" and "that's retarded." Interestingly, several synonyms for "retard" were also once "legitimate" (those are ironic quotes, FYI) terms for the mentally ill: idiot, moron, lame, etc. But where I want to talk about semantics and the evolution of words, most people want to just get their point across with "retard." And I really don't know where that leaves me.