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I’m Officially an “Aspie”

I guess I’m writing this as a “coming out” in hopes that friends and family will understand me a little better in addition to me understanding myself a little better as well. So, I’ve been diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome in addition to having ADD, and dyslexia, and being left-handed (there are studies on left-handedness and AS and whether there’s a correlation. They say it’s more likely for a person with AS to be left-handed, but this has not been proven). For those who don’t know, having Aspergers puts me on the autism spectrum. For you adults, you can take the AAA (Adult Asperger Assessment) diagnostic test to find out your likelihood of having it although I suggest seeing a psychologist or psychotherapist. I actually think it’s dope. It puts a lot of things that have occurred in my life into perspective in a way which makes a lot of sense now, especially in terms of my interests and career choice (IT).

For starters, I’m more of the pattern recognizer type: high mathematical and spatial intelligence. During my school years, I can remember 3 distinct times being recognized for my math abilities. The first was in second grade. I always finished tests way before other kids and my teacher Ms. York at Redan Elementary recommended that I be put in the gifted program starting with 3rd grade. The next time would be in 7th grade. My teacher Mrs. Smith at Salem Middle recommended I skip ahead to advanced math classes. At that time, I was the kid who would say the answer to a double 3 digit multiplication problem before everyone finished punching in the keys on their calculator or solved it on paper. The 3rd time would be in college when I was learning how to convert IP addresses between binary, decimal, and hexadecimal. I would do the conversions in my head while others had to draw it out on paper. I fought with my professor on this one and won.

Dyslexia

I’ve known that I was dyslexic for a long time now, but it’s officially confirmed. 7th grade was also the same time that I started to realize that I was dyslexic. At the time, I didn’t know there was a name for it or that it was even an issue. I could move numbers around in my head and make plenty of sense of them and was still the kid who finished math tests ahead of everyone. At the same time, I was the last one to finish reading a chapter in a book during an in class reading assignment. It took much longer to read than other kids. It didn’t help that I had absolutely no interest in the fiction books I was reading either. I developed my own ways to cope with this as the years went on so I never told anyone. ‘Til this day, when I write on paper, it’s in all caps because it’s easier for me to read. The same way I could move numbers around in my head, letters and words would moved around when reading. Unfortunately, language loses its meaning when manipulated in such a manner. After going back and reviewing all of my standardized test results from school, I saw my math results were consistently off the charts while my reading and linguistics were not nearly as good.

When it comes to reading, it takes a lot of effort and time, so naturally, I only read about what I’m deeply interested in and never had time for fiction books. I considered them a waste of time. Not to say that they are. I’ve come to appreciate fiction books as works of art, but still do not read them. As a matter of fact, I wouldn’t even read them for school. I would only read the cliff notes online and somehow got by. At that time, space and airplanes were really exciting to me (and still are), so that’s all I would read about until we got our first computer in the house when I was about 11-12.

Prosopagnosia…

comes along with Aspergers sometimes. My case isn’t too severe, but in short, I need familiar context to recognize yo’ face son. The more I see you in different environments, the better. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve met with friends in a crowded place and could not recognize them even when they were walking directly towards me, even waving sometimes. It wasn’t until they were in my face saying “Hey! What’s up? Are you blind?” that I would recognize them. It doesn’t stop me from looking for you though. As much as I care about you, I regret to inform you that you’re just another face in the crowd. Much love though.

Empathy and Emotions…

confuse the fuck out of me. I feel them, but am horrible at expressing them. They aren’t as vital to my well-being. I like to say that I’m a cactus and emotions/affection are water. I only need a few drops to get me through the year. I have to remind myself that most other people are not like this and need a greener thumb. This obviously makes relationships a bit difficult but are definitely doable with much understanding from the other side. I’ve gotten better, but I used to have to be heavily cued if an emotional response is desired. When someone is being emotional or needs emotional support, I have to pick up on other cues and process them through logic instead of intuition. It has to go through a rigorous algorithm in my head. Here’s probably the best example I can give you. In one relationship, my ex came home frightened, distraught, and crying nonstop. She was walking on the street next to someone, and right before she was about to cross the street, she stopped for a brief second because she thought she heard someone call her name. The next thing she knew, the person she was walking next to got hit by a car and she saw his head get busted open on the street and he died on the spot. She did not know this person. I had no idea how to respond. I only realized something was wrong because she was crying, but did a horrible job at consoling and comforting her. She had to ask me to hold her, and even when I did, the only thing that I could think was “why the hell are you crying? It wasn’t you. You should be happy you’re still alive.” Of course I didn’t say that, but that’s how I think. Things have to be processed and calculated. I even have a couple of friends that call me a robot. This post is probably no surprise to them. I take no offense. I just respond with popular quotes from movie robots or say “does not compute” in a robotic voice. I’m not completely void of emotions and empathy. They are just weird things to me that throw off logic which is the only thing that makes sense. If you’re a Star Trek fan, I’m like a combination of Spock and Data (before the emotion chip upgrade). I can be programmed though for those willing to take the time.

More on emotions, my father was in the military so we moved around a bit. As a result, I grew up with an acute sense of the impermanence of not only everything around me, but myself as well, and I think as a result of that I never really developed emotional ties to people or the places I have lived. I have the capability to up and leave without telling anyone and not give a shit. However, if you have earned my loyalty and/or friendship, then I can tell you I’ll be fiercely loyal to you and help you wherever I can no matter where I am. I’ll even be a shoulder to cry on although I won’t fully understand your emotional turmoil. I’m not a psychopath, I just have some behavioral similarities with them o_O

Patterns, Shapes, Colors, Math, and Numbers

These are a few of my favorite things. They are how I view the world. Even from a young age, I remember making myself and my dad paper wallets. I would make these things non stop. It was my favorite thing to make for a long time. I would take a ruler and draw lines on both sides of a piece of paper so that they would form all kinds of cool geometric shapes and I would fill in those shapes with different colors in a specific pattern. I would then fold and glue the paper in a way that made a 2 pocket wallet that you could fold in half and put in your pocket. I would make a ton of these and give them away to people at school as gifts. A couple of years ago, I visited my mom who I hadn’t seen in several years. She pulled out a photo album and showed me some of my childhood doodlings. Most of them were colors and shapes. She pulled one out. She said she saved it because it freaked her out and she thought I was on something lol. This was a few years before my wallets, but I had taken a ruler, drew lines and made shapes, filled them in with colors and put numbers in a weird pattern in one of the corners of each shape. It took me a little while, but I realized I made my own calendar that made the most sense to me because existing calendars were garbage apparently. I also would take a piece of paper, use a ruler to draw tiny boxes, and just fill them with numbers in some kind of pattern or in other cases make number puzzles in a similar fashion. She had a few of those too. I remember all of my ID numbers and too many IP addresses. I used to memorize my credit and debit card numbers, but stopped doing it although after using them enough times, I eventually end up remembering them anyways along with their expiration dates and security codes. Even during my experimental drug phase (get over it. Obama did coke and smoked weed in his day), I experienced tons of shapes and colors. For example, if I did ecstasy and and smoked weed during the come down, I would get intense closed eye visuals of all kinds of intricate morphing geometric shapes and colors which after asking other people, I found that combination doesn’t do the same thing for them. Those things are how I make sense of the world which puts me at incredible ease.

As an aside, I remember having a fascination with flags (colors and shapes). In 2nd grade. We had a new kid who had just moved in town from Bangladesh. I drew the Bangladesh flag for him as a gift which I remember distinctly (without Google) is all green with a red circle in the middle. I remember his name and everything. I have no idea why this stands out. For some reason after that, I started drawing a shit ton of flags and hanging them up side by side in my room all over the walls. I even remember my dad looking at my wall and being disgusted. Try your best to imagine the look on someone’s face who is African American, and had served in the US military whose son had the nazi flag on his bedroom wall (the red one with the white circle complete with a black swastika in the middle). Hey, I didn’t know better. I think that was the end of my flag era. It no longer made sense to hang up flags which had meanings and ideologies that I did not understand.

Socially Speaking

I FOR SURE prefer solitude. Oddly enough, I feel most at ease, traveling abroad solo. I’m very introverted and prefer the company of a close few, but can do ok in a large setting, especially if I’m with people I know well. When it comes to people, for the most part I’m more interested in their behaviors rather than actually getting to know them. Every roommate I’ve had, I never really got to know them. I can become fixated on people I find interesting in the same way that I find space or computers interesting, but have learned to back off when I think it creeps them out :-/ I’m extremely happy to have deep meaningful conversations, but when getting to know new people, I usually let them initiate deeper conversations because I don’t like making people feel as uncomfortable as I do in social settings. I don’t give a shit about your weather or LA traffic talk although I understand the importance of small talk in the social sphere. Sometimes, I’ll play along. If I enjoy your presence in general, I’ll oblige. Otherwise, most of the time you’ll get my infamous blank stare while I think about something more interesting. Even reading “The Power of Now” and meditating could not change this.

I remember wanting to do the home schooling program in my junior year of high school. I didn’t make a convincing case to my parents at all. I just wanted to do it and thought I should be allowed to explore it. That’s what my logic told me. Persuasion has never been my strong suit. I really wanted to focus on computers at that point and even had a couple of business ideas. School wasn’t interesting and never really made sense to me. I was highly capable of learning on my own without guidance. My parents wouldn’t let me though. My step-mom stressed the importance of social skills :-/ Thanks. Those social skills I learned in high school really came in handy :-/ Not that I blame them. They didn’t really know about me or how I roll.

Career

I guess this was the big telltale sign. I’ve been fixated on computer technology since we got our first computer in the house when I was young. I’ll learn a new programming language just for fun. A new language is just another way to create and manipulate a new world. Inside computer networks is an alternate reality that I’ve made a lot of sense of, and I can manipulate it and make it do what I want. I can give it order. It’s always at my command. I’ve even replaced people with it. Sadly, this is an ongoing joke with an old coworker and is one way we’ll threaten each other (I’ll write a script to replace you). When I was younger and I realized this, it became my escape from reality when life sucked. I became a god in my own right in this place. I could create order within a world of chaos that I couldn’t understand. If you do an analysis of personalty types in Silicon Valley who work in IT, you’ll see a large percentage of them also have AS. Why? I don’t know, but I bet they’ll give you similar reasons if they think about it hard enough. We strive for knowledge and order. It’s easier for us to accomplish that in this artificial world we call the internet that is void of corrupt politicians, and a ruling body that does not have the the betterment of humanity at its best interest. So we take our newly created worlds and use them to interface with and make an effort to bring order to the world we actually live in because that’s the best way we know how, and that’s why Silicon Valley is so “disruptive” yet so elusive to those who aren’t part of the culture. Although I’m jaded at the notion that they are all changing the world as they proclaim, I don’t doubt in my mind that they actually feel that way.

In closing…

I guess another reason I wrote this is to show and tell that we all have aspects of ourselves that we have to manage. To most people I seem normal on the outside, but rest assured, I struggle and suffer just like you do albeit in different ways. Yes I’m weird socially, but before out-casting people like me and other types, recognize and understand that some people are wired differently. Who knows, you might gain the most loyal friend you’ll ever have. Suspend your judgement until you’ve come to understand someone. Sometimes, just acceptance and a non judgmental attitude is all you need to help someone who thinks differently. I’ve been rejected many times in social situations. I’ve learned to stop letting it keep me from making the effort to make connections with people outside of my world and I urge you all to do the same.

I’ll say that there is nothing more powerful than fully getting to know yourself and recognizing your own behavioral patterns. To me, life is a never ending journey of self-discovery. We all live a life of duality and I encourage you all to learn what both your blessings and curses are. They both are what make you whole.

Know thyself. Peace.

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13 Life Lessons From an Almost 30 Year-old

I had a long phone conversation with my uncle a couple of months ago who is in his 50s and I asked him if he had any advice for someone who was about to turn 30 (me). He told me something that made a lot of sense to me that is actually occurring in my life. He said that after each decade of your life, you try to correct the things you didn’t do or should have done in your previous decade.

With that being said, I present to you the lessons I’ve learned and things I wish I would have done in my 20s.

Define what success means to you

Otherwise, you will end up chasing something that means nothing to you. When defining success, I ask myself “how do I want to live?” and “how do I see myself in the future?” and the answers change from time to time which is ok. Just make sure you reevaluate your goals and adjust as necessary when your answers to those questions change. Otherwise you end up on a divergent path, that you didn’t mean to go down.

Name your price for that success

What are you willing to give up to reach your goals? This is the part that is often overlooked when creating goals. Life is a huge balancing act. For each success that you strive for, something will have to be neglected. Example, in my teens, I was advised to do all of my hard work while I was young so I wouldn’t have to work hard when I was older. I took it a little too seriously. I was both working and going to school full-time and was making decent money while I was in college. By the time I was 22, I had a house in Texas. To this day, I have only seen pictures of the inside of this house and driven by the outside a couple of times. Then, when I turned 23, I got a condo. It took a lot of work to pull that off while I was in school, but at the same time, I gave up my social life for the most part. I had a serious girlfriend at that time of about 4 years and even that relationship suffered because of how hard I was working.

Meet people

This period of my life mentioned above also should have been the time to build relationships and network with my peers and individuals I admired which I also didn’t do… partly because I am introverted which is a whole ‘nother deal. So while I had some successes in terms of career and owning stuff, there were some things I had to give up to make that happen at an early age, and now I’m making up for the things I didn’t do in my early to mid 20s. When networking, don’t just stick to the people that are similar to you either. Increase your social diversity and learn about and exchange ideas with people who are very different from you. Why do you need to network…?

You can’t make all of your humongous dreams and goals come true by yourself

My dad was in the air force. For those of you that don’t know what it’s like growing up with a military parent, that means I was raised to be very independent… fiercely so I might add. I was washing my own clothes and cooking at 7. And although it wasn’t a written rule, the word “can’t” was not allowed to leave my mouth, nor either of its synonyms. So I grew up with an “I can do it all by myself” attitude. No amount of group work at school could convince me otherwise. I’m still fiercely independent and possess that attitude, but at this point in my life, I’m building something much larger than me and to do that, I’m realizing it takes much more than me to make it happen. Until the day when we are allowed to clone ourselves, I’m going to have to rely on you all and vice versa so we can help each other build our dreams and reach our goals.

Find mentors

Another thing I wish I had done. My independent nature led me to believe I didn’t need any. In order to go where you want to go in this life, you need people who have been there already. Ideally, a mentor should be someone you respect and admire who has excelled in an aspect of your life where you are lacking. I wouldn’t dare take advice from anyone who hasn’t been where I’d like to go. Mentors are like extra parents for other areas of your life. They are good guides. Having a mentor doesn’t mean you have to take all of their advice, but they’re there to help you along your way.

Don’t work for people or organizations that you don’t respect

Not only is the work you do for these people unfulfilling, but it ends up being a waste of your time on this earth because it didn’t mean a damned thing to you. Sometimes you will respect the new people you start working for and over time, it fades for whatever reasons. It’s important that you recognize when it does. There was a point in time where work was just work so people could take care of their families which provided meaning. For whatever reason that is not this generation’s case any longer. Our sense of work has evolved to something that requires meaning and purpose. Why? I don’t know. Hasn’t our work as always had meaning? I think it has something to do with that fact that we don’t have to worry as much about meeting our most basic needs anymore. We no longer have to hunt. Hunting was work and it had meaning. It was your means of survival and there were rituals that took place before and after hunting. Now that our food for the most part is massed produced for us, we now strive for other ways to provide meaning to our lives. That’s just my take, but it’s in our nature to have meaning for our existence and what we do. Otherwise we get stuck with the dreaded question “why am I here?” It’s no longer necessary to go down that rabbit hole when you do meaningful things in your life. It gives your life a purpose.

Always poop BEFORE you shower instead of right after

Otherwise, you just negate your shower. There have been a few times where I actually ended up taking showers back-to-back. So try to drop that deuce before, even if it feels like you don’t have to.

Travel

I don’t think there’s any bigger eye opener other than a(n) epiphany/near-death/out of body/transcendental experience. Learning how other people get down in life is good for you. It makes you a more tolerant, understanding, and loving person when you can appreciate and embrace how other people live instead of simply separating yourself from them because they are different. The more you get to know people, the more you see yourself in them. I know it sounds like cheesy, hippie “we are all one” bs, but it’s true. I had a lot of friends who graduated during the the financial crisis in 2008 and had a hard time finding jobs so they just went and traveled for a year. To be honest, I was envious. I was hoping to get laid off so I could do the same. This is also one of those things I’m making up for because I didn’t do it in my early 20s.

Be careful who you associate yourself with

I wish we lived in a world where reputation didn’t matter and we could see each other for who we really are upon first glance, but it takes time for us to get to know one another in order to establish trust which is a huge life lesson in itself. This is also why you need to network. So when you have “bad” associations, your reputation is already ruined and when you meet someone new who knows of this association, you already have a hole that you need to climb out of to make a decent impression.

Learn to laugh at your misfortunes

Definitely allow yourself to grieve when “bad” things happen, but do your best not to let it turn into a downward spiral. One thing that helps me to do this is when I look at all the events in my life (both good and bad) as learning lessons. When something “bad” happens, I say to the universe “haha, you got me.” Recently my laptop got stolen while visiting friends in the bay area. I could have looked up at the sky, cursed in a rage, and had a bad attitude about it, (It was in Oakland so whoever did it decided to live up to their NFL team name… Raiders) but instead I looked at it as the universe giving me a clean slate. I was in the process of rebranding my company. I had a lot of old stuff in the way, pictures of old girlfriends and other crap. I was going to replace that laptop anyways because it was pretty old. Here’s what I wrote on my Facebook wall right after it happened: “laptop got stolen from my rental car in Oakland, but it’s all good. They can’t stop my hustle nor steal my joy and love for life. ‪#‎cantstopwontstop ‬‪#‎takethattakethat‬ ‪#‎diddystyle‬ ‪#‎hashtagabuse‬” I hope that whoever stole it gets what they need in life so they no longer feel the need to commit these kinds of acts. I took this clean slate as a gift and moved on. There are much bigger things in life to worry about.

Stay fit and eat healthy

Another thing I didn’t do much of in my 20s that I’m doing now. I never worked out at all. I have good genes fortunately and stay in shape naturally. I didn’t develop the ethic of working out and that’s the hardest part now. In my early 20s, I didn’t eat well either. I was too busy hustlin’. Once I’m in the zone and ultra focused, sleep nor hunger can stop me from finishing what I’m working on. I’m still like that today except I force myself to take a break and eat which I still fail at sometimes. Whatever woman I end up with is going to need to make sure she has sandwiches ready. Horrible sexist joke, I know. Don’t get offended. Seriously, though, I only eat when I’m hungry and I work on computers A LOT so I’m sitting down and don’t burn a lot of energy so I don’t eat a lot. Working out has definitely increased my appetite and I make sure that when I do eat, it’s usually something healthy.

Connect with family

Growing up, I never lived close to my family. It wasn’t until I moved to Los Angeles when I was 20 that I actually lived close to them. And even then, I was too busy working to connect with them.That, coupled with an independent nature meant I barely saw them after I moved out of my aunt’s place within a few months of living there. Connecting with family is important because no matter how crazy your family dynamic is, they are usually the ones who have your back when things go wrong in your life. It makes it easier to do so when they actually KNOW you. Aside from family, they say the best way to tell who your real friends are is to look around and see who’s still there after you’ve fucked up really bad. The people you call your family are usually your main source of support even if they don’t understand you. So try to make yourself understood by them as much as possible by making the effort to connect with them.

Don’t become obsolete

Stay on top of your game. Whatever it is you love and love to do, keep doing it and keep learning about it and ways to improve your skills. I work with computer technology. Technology changes every morning when I put on my draws. The longer I sit at a company that’s not doing anything to stay up to date, the worse off I am. Even when that does happen, I have to make an effort to stay up to date with the latest trends and try out the latest technologies just so I don’t become obsolete myself because it can happen very quickly in my field.

That’s all I got for now. I hope this advice was of some help to someone out there who needed it, and if you are already in your 30s and have some wisdom to share, please do! I wish you well in your journeys. Peace!

Hey, Je suis Marc

So I’ve been contemplating starting a blog for a while now, and finally decided to be like Nike and “just do it.” I plan to use this blog as a creative outlet and to let people know what I’m up to along my journey. I got the domain jesuismarc.com for a couple of reasons. The first being that I’m learning to speak French (by all means if you are learning to speak, then let’s learn together!), and second because of the dope song from Hocus Pocus on this page.

What I’m doing with my life right now? EVERY DAY I’M HUSTLIN’! Working hard ’til I go on vacation in Europe for the Olympics. Then back to hustlin’ and going H.A.M. on a business that I’m bootstrapping which I’ll share with you all soon enough. Getting back to work now. Plus tard!