Last Monday was a public holiday. I spent most of it at my computer, recording electronic music and arranging it as a song using the multi-track music sequencing software. I thought to myself, "This is going well. It won't be long now before I have one of the songs finished for my new album." But then I looked at my watch and saw that I was going to be late for band practice. I'd become so engrossed in what I was doing, I'd lost track of the time.
So I quickly packed up my music gear and went out. My band are going to have a gig next week, it's going to be excellent because it's in a big venue and we're only a little band so it's a great opportunity for us. The leader of the band, Boris Pink, told me that we have to be ready to play on stage at nine o'clock on Saturday night.
It was a good practice and most of our songs are sounding pretty "tight". I'm making less mistakes than I used to, although I still have to follow the chord-charts, unlike Boris and the others. Sometimes I have to catch a train home from practices, and that's a bit of a hassle with all the equipment. But this time, Boris offered me a lift in his car.
As he drove me home on Punt Road he asked me what I'm planning to do this year. I said, "Oh, nothing much."
He said, "Just relax? No work? On the dole? No courses?"
"I'm on disability support," I replied. "I might do a course, later."
Boris thought about this and said, "I know a few people who are on disability support. What are you getting it for?"
"What is that?"
"It's a psychological thing."
Boris said that he knew a guy who was getting disability support who sometimes had schizophrenia. Then, somewhat cautiously, he asked me for more information about Asperger's Syndrome.
"It's like, difficulties with communication," I said.
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Boris seemed somewhat pleased that he'd found this out about me. He said, "That would explain a few things. You seem a little 'intense'. Earlier I thought it was because you didn't like us. There's a certain 'intensity' about you. Are you on any medication, to help you?"
"Is it very hard to deal with that condition?"
"Not so much now – I had a lot of problems growing up, especially during that difficult teenage period."
Boris said he could imagine how that must have been hard – it's hard enough without the communication difficulties. He asked, "Did you get any help from a psychiatrist or whatever?"
"I was seeing a psychologist for a few years during that time."
"Did that help?"
"Yes. She gave me some good advice. When I was with her, I wrote a letter to her each time and that way I was able to communicate much better."
"That's good. It must be hard to lead a normal social life with that sort of condition. Is it a struggle, now, just to go out?"
"Not really – I mean when I'm going out, like to a pub or something, I just go for the music and I don't worry about the socializing and stuff."
Boris dropped me off at my house and I thanked him. I wonder if he will think of me differently now that he knows I have Asperger's Syndrome. What I didn't tell him was, that even though I was diagnosed with it, I don't think I really have it anymore. It's true that I'm very non-social sometimes, but that's fifty-percent due to apathy, rather than communication difficulties. Still, it would be nice for everyone to think of my unfriendliness as a mental disorder. The last thing I want is for everyone to think that I don't like them.
A couple of days ago, I had a dream about my mother. In the dream, my mother said, "Stephen, all this journal-writing is a waste of time." She was referring to my paper journals which I've kept in previous years.
"No it isn't", I replied.
Mum said, "I just think, that you spend so much time writing your journal, it's like an addiction and you're no longer in control of it."
"But writing my journal is important!"
"No it's not. It could never be of interest to anyone but you. The way you write it, it's just an emotionless sequence of events – you don't write your feelings, just the facts. And it doesn't even make sense."
"You don't know anything about it," I replied angrily. "You haven't even read it!"
"I've read enough of it. Remember that time we went on holiday in Echuca?"
I woke up. I realised that I'd never even been to Echuca, but that didn't stop me from being consumed with doubt about whether my diary was worthwhile. My mother would never be critical of my journal-writing in real life. But maybe this dream was trying to tell me something.
I reached out for my journal from 2002, which was beside the bed. I opened a page at random – it was the February 18th page. At first it did seem like an emotionless sequence of events. But as I kept reading, I noticed that I'd also written down my opinion about funerals, about how funerals are so stupid and instead of burying people in separate graves we should store them in the morgue, until we get, like, a hundred bodies and then bury them in a single mass grave with no coffins and no ceremony – that would be more efficient.
And then I thought, "No one thinks the same way I do. That's what makes it interesting. That's why I have to write stuff down, to express my unique viewpoint on the world." And so, with my mind set at ease, I got up and set about arranging breakfast for myself. It was just a dream.
Next week, I'll play my first real gig of the year, with a real band, in front of a real audience. And that won't be just a dream – it will be a dream come true.
What's that song that goes "When you consider things, From another point of view?" Channel Seven have been using it as the jingle on their station IDs – I assume it must be part of a larger song. I've only heard about eight bars of it but they're going round and round in my head and I can't get rid of it.
Historical photo of the week:
Stephen Clark, one week old
This Wednesday I went to the karaoke and sang two songs – the first one was called "Sing", by Travis, and the second one was a rap song by Coolio called "Gangsta's Paradise." I like to let out a lot of emotion and energy when I'm singing, 'cause I don't have much of a chance to express myself loudly in the normal course of life. I got a bit out of breath in the rap song though. One thing that really bugs me is, the karaoke words on the screen for "Sing" were wrong in the chorus. How could the karaoke-makers get the words wrong? Talk about shoddy product. I wish I knew how to make karaoke discs – I'd do it much better.
The programme Survivor is in its sixth series and this year it's set in the Amazon rainforest. This is a very successful reality game show, where one person gets voted out of the tribe each week. I watched the first series and I was absolutely enthralled. It's gone downhill a bit since then – at least this year they've made it a bit more interesting by making it men vs women. It's like a sociological experiment. They have to go through all sorts of physical and mental challenges. I bet if I were on that show, I'd do really well. But sometimes I think it's all fake and they're all just actors.