Monday, December 26, 2011

#6 Traveling by Train

There are many things one should do before they die, brush your teeth, sleep occasionally, be good to others, but traveling by rail through Europe should be added to that list.

This is our third trip (in three years) through Europe by rail.  Today's leg takes us from Berlin Germany to Krakow Poland via Warsaw, where we will change trains.

There are many advantages to traveling by train over plane - the two major ones for me are the comfort and the efficiency.  Trains in Europe seem to travel in almost clockwork fashion running mostly to the minute or two of schedule.

As past experience has shown however, occasionally things go and often will go, awry.

Our first trip in 2009 was with a party of 6;  teenagers, adults and a small child of 4 years old all included in our party.

In the planning I took over the responsibility of the train schedule with Aspergian precision (not to be confused with military precision which is less precise).

I had train connections, stopovers, transfers, platforms, tickets, reservations all under control, often checking daily on the Internet to see if any changes had been made by the railways to any of our connections.  I was also in charge of the accommodation, finding our way to and from hotels from the train stations.

It was all under control or so I thought.  How wrong I was.

My well versed plans didn't take days to unravel, it started from the very first city, Frankfurt.  We had safely navigated customs and the trip from the airport to the main train station where our hotel was located just a few short steps away. It was raining, our family was tired, we were jet lagged. 

But I couldn't find our hotel.  More to the point, I didn't know which direction it was in as there were so many departure gates from the train station.  My map suddenly seemed woefully inept. We walked in many directions that night, we passed many streets, we assailed many people to beg for directions.  Lesser people may have crumbled, we battled on.  We survived and eventually found our hotel more by luck than by anything else. 

Now we use google maps, we write directions down, we take taxis.  Mainly we take taxis.

There were other misdemeanors on this trip.  Namely I lost a backpack with our daily food supplies, train timetables and hotel information, left on a train.  My wife left a $1000 camera in a taxi in Paris .

These however are merely footnotes, the story of us trudging through the rain and sleet in Frankfurt is the tale my wife has never forgotten (she can't let it go!).  Like life itself,  things will and do go wrong on holidays no matter how well you plan.  Sometimes the memories (almost) make the mistakes worthwhile.  Especially if you can laugh about it later.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

#5 The Essence of Books

The essence of books......

I'm sure there are plenty of people out there who love reading a good book, I certainly do and when finished I pop it on the overflowing shelf near my bed to keep for another day.  

One of the many benefits of having Aspergers is the ability to collect. I collect my books, each has a special memory attached to it, whether it be from the day I purchased it, to the time I read it, or even a memory attached to the person who may have given it to me.

My NT (non Aspergian) wife is not like this.  She is a thrower.   She reads then throws the book.   Maybe she will keep a large coffee table book or a travel guide but once read books to her are like a newspaper. 

It must be a shame to live this way I think, with no order amongst the chaos. 

We argued last night over my bulging book collection..... books were made to be thrown out, novels mostly, but to her, my memory of buying a book with her in a Jindabyne book store and having a wonderful day, well that memory in my mind obviously means little to her.

I could have fought back, but my best lines in arguments often come hours later when I gather my thoughts and come up with amazing one liners that could have stopped her in her tracks.  I mean what if I had got out the photo albums for instance and said, " oh you've looked at these?" ok I'll toss them out......with the books.

But have no fear book lovers, I will recover and more on to bigger and better books. I"ll simply hide them from now on.

I know in a future life, I will suffer for saying this, but has anyone else ever fantasised on holiday, that their family will have a short 24 hour virus that means the only healthy one (me) can spend the day poking around book stores?

Now if only I can find those missing books....

Saturday, November 19, 2011

#4 Collecting

It was Guy Fawkes day last week.  In Australia  this day is not celebrated, however in New Zealand where I was born, Guy Fawkes is still celebrated, although in a smaller more regulated way than 35 years ago when I was a boy.

One of my earliest memories was when I was 5 years old and my older sister going to a fireworks party.  At night!   I begged her to bring any used crackers home.  She came home when it seemed very dark, and opened my door and left a bag just inside.  I was up in a flash, light on, exploring my new treasures. There were at least 10 rockets with all the black soot still flowing from the now extinguished tubes. Mostly I was fascinated by all the colours and the smell. Intoxicating. 

I placed them carefully all around, and in my bed, and fell asleep. Yes, mum nearly passed out the next morning on seeing my now blackened sheets and floor, but that day was the start of my first obsession, followed in the years ahead by stamps, coins,  beer cans, rugby programs, rugby books and a flirtation with baseball and sports trading cards. If it was collectable I wanted in.
There were various types of fire crackers from the smallest Tom Thumbs up to the larger rockets and Catherine Wheels.  I knew them all and more importantly,  I knew the origin of them all. Made in China was my favorite with the wrappers in a foreign tongue . Imagine these firecrackers coming over on a boat, all the way from China, I would tell friends. I eagerly awaited each year, the day after Guy Fawkes when I would eagerly scout the local streets collecting the used crackers. If any kid at school ever needed to know the country of origin of any cracker then I was the go to man . Of course there was trouble, I let off crackers once at school and once threw some small ones under a car to see what would happen. How that lady identified me from school photos I'll  never know.

This obsessiveness was  repeated years later, when as  teenager I would walk up and down every aisle in the Rugby ground and collect any left programmes.  Sometimes I got  as many as 12,  sometimes only 4.  Some were beer soaked, others screwed up, the odd one still in mint condition.  All were taken in and necessary repairs done.  I was quite often disgusted the way other people did not look after important things like this.  There was always something being flattened under my carpet during my childhood, tickets, magazines,  posters.  I loved getting every last crease out of things.

I never thought of myself as any different to any other kid at school, but looking back maybe I was more quirky in some ways.  I never thought an 11 year old reading a 900 page tomb on the history of All Black Rugby was anything unusual,  I simply knew a lot lot more on some subjects than my peers.  With most other things I was at the same level, and some things I had no interest in whatsoever, so therefore I knew nothing at all.

Mostly I struggled with disecting various information fed to me. 

Life was all highs or lows nothing in between.  Balance is something I've always struggled with,  I'm always moving if not physically then mentally, always struggling with too many thoughts so my brain feels overloaded.

Sometimes the everyday things are difficult and I really have to remind myself to be thankful for all the good things in my life.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

#3 Jose Feliciano

Jose Feliciano was on the radio singing "Light My Fire" -  a melodic mesmerizing version of what would later be a hit for The Doors.  Jose only had one other hit single, the Christmas song, Felix Navidad.  He was one of those rare one hit wonders to have two hits. 

It was winter 1967, the Beatles were in their Yellow Submarine stage, Kennedy was President and young people everywhere were getting high on pot and free love.  Life was one big party in San Francisco, Paris, London and probably Amsterdam too.

I indicated left and slowly drove into Blackwood street , Mitchelton.  Unable to leave the thought of Jose behind;  did he have other hits that I was unaware of?  What year were his hit singles released? Is he dead?  I needed to know, I would have to google them later.   Information like this was important.  It is always the way my mind worked, unable to leave mild distractions alone, instead, focusing on them and searching for answers.

#2 Emotions/Feelings

I can almost remember the exact day I lost my self confidence and realized that maybe I wasn't as bullet-proof mentally as I thought I was. 

It was after my first marriage break down, I was in Brisbane,  I was jobless, I was penniless and most worrying was, for first time in my life, I was alone.

It concerned me that I was concerned at all.  I had been confident, I was happy go lucky, I thought I had life mastered, but had I really? What if it had all been a lie. What if I had simply been playing a game all this time, my whole life. 

It was all too hard to process so I pushed the negative thoughts away, they would be hidden but the thoughts never went far below the surface like they once had. They simmered for years, they were like a Rubiks Cube that couldn't be solved. 

It was only this year that I was diagnosed with Aspergers.  Things finally started to make sense, old wounds resurfaced and puzzles were solved. I was a free thinker in the world.  My thought processes was different to the followers that the rest of society were. It was the wake up call I needed but didn't want to deal with.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Post #1

Ready and set.

Coffee sits on bedside table (undisturbed).  iPad at the ready.  Awaiting the first typed words for this blog.

Sometimes the magic doesn't happen.  It happened two nights ago when I dreamt a giraffe laid an egg in my bed, before the egg was sold to an art dealer with a receding hairline, who was dating a new age voodoo doctor.  Apparently the egg would pay the bills if sold in Africa. But really I ask, who has money in Africa?

Random thoughts on the following subjects (no particular order)
1. The government - apathetic
2. Racism - not racist apart from English sportsmen and hippies
3. Clothing - optional
4. People - overrated
5. Blogging - weird

Anyone else interested in numerical facts, obsessions, and themselves? If you scored 3/3 you may have Aspergers.  My son(6) and I (44, still thinking I pass for 28) both scored 3.  Apparently we aren't the same as others, our brains are wired a little different but being insular this doesn't worry me at all, I think life's like poker, you can win just by bluffing.

Finishing off here is some (very) light bedtime reading.
Bite sized stories written for the time poor. All 25 words or less.

James passionately kissed his wife Sara until his mouth went cold.  Then he closed the freezer door.

HONEYMooN part 2
Nothing annoyed James like uncooked thigh fillet. So he placed Sara's leg back in the oven.

This next one placed 3rd in over 8000 entries in an online site, personally I don't think it's anything special.

The Perfect Crime
The guilty man looked defiant as the judge set the term at 12 years non parole.
The innocent man was led away by police.

How Jim Was Eaten
He never saw it coming.  Daydreaming until it was too late.  It's a mistake he will never make again. Obviously.

Last one now.

A Better Time
If time stood still then Eric's life would remain exactly the same.  He wound his timepiece back and wondered if he would time travel.

Au Revoir