Monthly Archives: September 2012

Sept. 30, 2012

Scorpios watch their inner life, in addition to the outer world and other people. Above is demi-breast pic of me watching my inner life (it’s up in the trees). I pushed my breast up with my hand to get this picture (which I love). How many pics of old(er) women, like this one (above), do you see? I’ll tell you: almost NONE.

Some famous woman author wrote that if she’d had breasts (big boobies), her life would have been totally different.

I am sure all male-dominated societies have rules to keep old women in line. One is: don’t show the fat on your upper arms; cover it up. Another is: you are not sexy; you are not allowed to be sexy, or look sexy, or think sexy thoughts, or–God forbid!–act on any sexy feelings you may have. In general, we are supposed to keep quiet, be inconspicuous, and stay out of the way, And be helpful, if possible.

_______________________

CAMPING

A coyote barked at me as I was packing up this morning. I heard it earlier, settling down in the woods near me; then, when I started rustling around, the coyote got scared and barked for about 15 minutes, telling all his/her friends what was going on. He left the area.

When the night begins, the owls start hooting (last night at 7:07 pm); in the morning, they are the last wild sounds I hear before the songbirds start singing.

New bed-space at Pratt Trail camp. Sept. 2012

____________________________

Ojai is my “Bouncing Pad.” It’s where I sometimes come to settle down after long travels and to prepare for new travels.

As a teenager, I used to go to the high school dances in the gymnasium. “Sock hops,” we called them. I never (I mean never) got asked to dance. I was a Wallflower; I was a geek, nerd.

My German adoptive parents’ sense of extreme order and discipline was outrageous. I, of course, totally absorbed it and passed it on to my kids.

I am going to start being more straightforward; since spending so much time outside the Northeast, I have forgotten the wonderfulness of people being very direct. Now, when I don’t like people, I am just going to tell them, “I don’t like you.” Thank you, Gabriella Hamilton (author of Blood, Bones and Butter) for reminding me of  this one of the many joys of the Northeast coast.

I am living a life of my own choosing.

Society says: “Be nice.” I say, “Be real; be honest.”

As a mother, I threw away conventional social status for adventure.

___________________________

Asperger Syndrome

While both males and females with Asperger Syndrome (and autism in general) are theorized to have a “male (-type) brain,” Williams Syndrome people are thought (by some people) to have a “female (-type) brain.” See below:

Overly friendly (excessively social) personality 
Individuals with Williams syndrome have a very endearing personality. They have a unique strength in their expressive language skills, and are extremely polite. They are typically unafraid of strangers and show a greater interest in contact with adults than with their peers.
Aspies are described like this (Simon Baron-Cohen is a famous researcher in the field of autism):
Low-empathizing, high-systemizing: That, in a nutshell, is Baron-Cohen’s theory of what characterizes autism. Those traits span the autism spectrum, from people who are mute and unable to function to people who find a niche in society. Moreover, Baron-Cohen’s theory embeds this autism spectrum firmly in a much larger two-dimensional continuum—one that includes all of us. The essential difference between men and women, according to Baron-Cohen, is that women are better at empathizing and men at systemizing—on average, he stresses. There are plenty of male brains in female bodies, and vice versa. There are even female autistics, but there are many more male ones: In Baron-Cohen’s theory, autism is a case of the “extreme male brain.”
(from “Autism: What’s Sex Got to Do with It?” in Psychology Today magazine)
I SO TOTALLY AGREE with Baron-Cohen’s theory. People are ALWAYS expecting me to be empathetic and all that (I wanna say) crap. I feel it, and I know compassion is a good thing, but I don’t function that way or express myself that way. AND I DON’T WANT TO HAVE TO or PRETEND TO just because that kind of response is normal and expected of women.

I like how I am, and I feel I have more of a “male brain.I do NOT want to constantly be responsive to others, not even 1/4 of the time do I want to be responsive. I much prefer to be active (yang), rather than being the soft (yin) responder. I am the aggressor, the actor, the force; I am not the receiver, the audience, the one who absorbs the force.

It seems like people will do anything to prove to themselves that women are yin and receptive/responsive They even get mad at us when we are not like that. We Aspie Girls prove that women are not always yin.

I don’t have to explain this to anyone. Being different is OK.

________________________

Below is more on the Asperger’s “male brain”:

Baron-Cohen and colleagues have come up with a model for this idea which divides the way the brain works into two major dimensions: systemizing and empathizing.

Systemizing is defined as “the drive to analyze or construct systems” that “follow rules.”  13  It also involves being able to predict the behavior of a system (as opposed to predicting or understanding the behavior of other people). 11 Males are, on average, more skilled at “systemizing” than females are. Think of mathematicians and engineers as good systemizers.

Empathizing is defined as “the drive to identify another person’s emotions and thoughts, and to respond to these with appropriate emotion.” It also involves being able to predict the behavior of people. Females are, on average, more skilled at “empathizing” than males are. Think of therapists and teachers as good empathizers.

Please note: The gender differences being discussed are “overall average” differences. In other words, it is understood that there are individual men who are wonderful at empathizing and women who are fantastic at systemizing; there are intuitive male therapists and brilliant female mathematicians.

The extreme male brain theory, meanwhile, views people on the autism spectrum as hyper-systemizers: people who are extremely interested in and engaged with rule-bound non-human systems, whatever their level of functioning. 14  For someone with less cognitive ability, “hyper-systemizing” might translate into collecting buttons, stones, or some other objects and organizing them by type. For someone with a higher IQ, it might translate into a huge catalog of knowledge on a particular subject, like insects, astronomy, or history — a subject that is endlessly thought about, talked about, and expanded upon. Routine would be one form of system, and disruptions to routine would be upsetting because they interfere with expectations of a rule-bound system. Rigidity, not flexibility, would be the rule.

Empathizing, on the other hand, would be impaired in individuals with ASD. Reading social cues, noticing what others are feeling (let alone figuring out how to respond appropriately), and making sense of social hierarchies would be very challenging — even more challenging than it might be for the average male.

Me: One thing I’ve never read is that we — or, that is, I — DON’T WANT TO BE EMPATHIC. I like people; I want people to be happy; but I am NOT willing to put myself in the position of being empathic in order to facilitate that. It is not who I am; I do appreciate others’ empathy on occasion, but that doesn’t mean I want to do that.

______________________________________

I am seeing the persimmons and pomegranates growing on some trees along Carne Rd. out in Ojai’s East End.

Full moon today.

Travel has a lot to do with cultures and their foods.

My true voice comes out really well when I am out in nature.

Sometimes I wear my headlamp to bed (like now, when I’m sleeping out in the woods).

My deep, ancient fear of the woods is still there; I saw it the other night when I awoke suddenly from a dream. I have just set it aside. My earliest and almost-only remembered dream is of me, running from a witch in the woods; I can see a friendly, helpful young man waiting from me just outside the woods at a soda fountain.

Yesterday, for the first time since they have been dead (over ten years), I missed my adoptive parents.

____________________

I have had many Alternative Homes, starting in 1975. They include:

houses (in suburbs and out in the country)

apartments (in big cities)

trailers

RVs

SROs (Single Room Occupancy or “Transient” hotels)

Tents and camping on the ground (“camps”)

Couchsurfing is like a “home” at many people’s houses

 

Sept. 27, 2012

TABLE OF CONTENTS 

(in no particular order and not all of these will be included in every issue of Globally Nomadic Woman)

The Old Way

Camping (and Nature Studies)

Travelling

Asperger Syndrome

Pond-erings

Conversations in MY REAL VOICE

______________________________

Olaus Murie — a great animal tracker and naturalist.

____________________________—–

Conversation In MY REAL VOICE (Voce)

Of course, when you are totally being yourself out in the world, some (perhaps well-meaning but careless) people will say you are just pretending. That you couldn’t possibly be that cute or weird or unusual. Etc. They do this with Aspergers, too (“You’re just faking it to excuse being rude.” I was told this a few years ago by someone.) It’s like with alcoholics who aren’t using alcohol anymore, and they are completely functional in society… but, as they will insist, they are still alcoholics. People don’t want to believe this. Or with someone like me who did something very bad ONE TIME, begged for forgiveness, sought and got  professional help, and confessed publicly; some people will not believe that I won’t do that again (even though it was 30 years ago; some people still don’t trust me).

It’s the same way with being one’s true self and speaking/writing in one’s true voice: some people can’t tolerate this diversion from normalcy; they demand that it be negated in some way, called “weird and unusual,” and forbidden.

I have Guardian Spirits. Some people call them Guardian Angels or Spirit Guides. There are lots of them, and the year I met my Eternal Soulmate (in the Divine Marriage) — I was 51 — many of them appeared to me clearly (the Black Motorcycle Rider, the Japanese woman, the Elephant… or was it a Bear? Yes, a Bear, I think) in the weeks before I met Jeremy B. I formally recognize three of my Spirit Guides every day. I thank them for helping me. Recently a woman I call Sheila (though I don’t think that’s actually her name) left me to go work with someone else (at least, I think that’s what happened). She had been with me for a long time, and I bid her a sad farewell. (So much of this, unsubstantiated by my society, but fully validated by other — eg., Native American –societies, is often hazy, as if I can never be sure what’s true and real and what’s my imagination. This does not discourage me.) A man came in to replace her: I call him “Will” or Willis or Wilson. He has helped me a lot already.

I am a Muse, like Oshara (whom I recently met here in Ojai). Muses are often completely “crazy” by the definition of our own uptight society; that’s why we are so effective! Thrilling and challenging people (eg., to take chances) is our job.

At the end of an early morning dream today, the narrator (a guy) revealed that I was insane (was I in a mental hospital? I forget.) I woke up and remembered it, and I felt very freed and healed by that dream. Like I can really be me now and not fear what people will say or think about me.

In my bed on the ground (after this dream), I noticed that some little thing from the tree was in my ear.

After this, the early morning jogger on the Pratt Trail drove up and parked his car (I heard this). Then, he jogged past my camp (across the barranca) with, I suppose, a headlamp (some kind of light). It was pre-sunrise, when it’s just barely starting to get light. I figured out lately why there’s so little wildlife, comparatively, on the Pratt Trail: too many houses around, even farther up the Trail. It’s sort of a good thing: I don’t have to be afraid of encountering a mountain lion there.

I packed up soon after Mr. Jogger tripped by, and I was out on the road by sunrise.

Stigmata (according to Elizabeth Marshall Thomas whose 2nd book I’m reading: The Hidden Life of Dogs) are unacceptable to people who are exquisitely sensitive to social status. (Thomas is describing the residents of Cambridge, Mass., home of Harvard University.)

_______________

Stigmata = stigma:

(from Dictionary.com)

~~a mark of disgrace or infamy; a stain or reproach, as on one’s reputation.
____________________

I like the “insanity” (weirdness, differentness, unexpectedness) of sleeping out in nature alone and also of traveling.

The voice of Kay Thompson’s Eloise was and is one of my favorites. I would never have discovered her, at least not in childhood, if not for my bestest childhood friend, Jane Britton. They had it up at her way-higher-class home. I never showed it to my Mom; she would have loved it.

Where am I and who are these people? is what I often think when I’m out in public.

I see things (life, other people) MY Way, and I’ve always been afraid I’d be “Found Out” (i.e, people would realize I wasn’t seeing life the “right” way, the mandated, sanctioned way, the way we all are supposed to see it). Now I realize that having my own view, my own ideas, my own voice (voce) is not only OK, it’s the absolute goal.

The #1 fear of all life-forms: loss of control.

High status? Dominance (use of force) and ownership (territory)? These are very different (and much less ethically palatable) in the artificial environment we humans live in. These are natural things within other species’ societies (Thomas writes a lot about this in The Hidden Life of Deer). Hierarchies are dangerous in human society: those on top (or who WANT to be on top) commit all kinds of very unnatural crimes. These are crimes for which an animal would be killed in nature.

How dangerous is life for an old woman? Old women are often hated (the reason is that we know too much: women are not supposed to know as much as we do; this threatens many people).

My High (according to the Old Way of indigenous people) Status in human society is revealed by a crucial element of high status among animals (and fish and ???): Courage. Bravery was a requisite of high status among people living in the Old Way. It is also a requisite today; but bravery today is often measured according to how cruel a person can be, how without conscience, and how much money/etc. a person can accumulate (hoard).

My Courageous Gift to my children was not money, territory, status (in the conventional sense), or possessions. My gift to my children was and still is doing these things: Experimenting, Exploring, Investigating, and Adventuring. These are the things that are always new and untested — to me and to everyone (because I am doing them in my own way and in my own creative context).

Doing these things — WHICH I DID WITH MY CHILDREN WHEN THEY WERE YOUNG AND WITH ME — can appear to be reckless, insane, and irresponsible. In reality, it takes a lot of ovaries (for men: balls) to even dream of doing such things. Almost no one tries things that are really different — especially not with children. But to have a pattern of raising children this way, as I did, is very unusual and, in my way of looking at things, highly commendable. My children have been left with gifts they can’t even fathom and perhaps never will.

It is only now that I am realizing all the gifts my parents gave me… and these were not even socially unacceptable gifts (as were mine to my children). Yet it has taken me all these years to appreciate them.

Being what (it’s not “who” if it’s not alive) people expect you to be is very warm and cozy and fun and even funny. Perhaps in another life I’ll be that kind of Performing Bear of a person. But, as Elizabeth Thomas says of dogs (in The Hidden Life of Dogs), these Bears and these people are slaves.

I know I’m “crazy” (i.e. non-conformist, unique), and I’m getting less and less afraid to show it. All the people I have always admired are also “crazy.” Yayoi Kusama, the artist who has a show right now at the Whitney Museum in New York, lives in a mental institution.

Demanding the right to think my own thoughts and not be distracted by social correctness and acting “appropriately” is how to beIF you truly dare to be yourself. Some people prefer to be defined by the mob (society).

Very wealthy people are no different from anyone else. They are part of life inside the bubble, inside the box, the status quo, the life that’s handed to us at birth: “Here is the paradigm; deal with it!” Take your place within the System; step right up. Pink Floyd wrote: “Come in here, Jim Boy. Have a cigar. You’re gonna go far…”

Gabriella Hamilton in Blood, Bones and Butter writes about “compulsory approval,” that subordination people in society are supposed to demonstrate to their superiors. Those who benefit from the current hierarchy (what- and wherever it is) don’t want their version of society questioned or interfered with. Those of us who intelligently question it, disagree loudly, and demonstrate other viable, possible ways-of-living are punished in some way by all societies.

Some of us will never bow down to our supposed social superiors; we won’t even pretend we will. We drop out of the game, and, as a result, we are called crazy, sick, pitiful, dumb, and worse. We become intolerable embarrassments to their own inadequacies. And if we are women in a male-dominated society, and we have the guts to do what others (both men and women) are afraid to do, we are ridiculed. We are stripped of our power, if possible. It’s no one’s fault. Nature is unforgiving. To keep control over one’s life is the ultimate freedom. I certainly intend to stay in control of my own life.

Sept. 26, 2012

Camping Sept. 25

Camp at Horn Canyon/Thacher School, Ojai, California: Screaming (a rabbit?) and low growling (bobcat?) at 5:30 am in the brush to my left. Rats jumping around me, mostly crepuscular (at dawn and dusk). I am interrupting their lives so, after 3 nights in that spot, I’ll return to the Pratt Trail camp tonight.

Coyote hunters apparently (also) use a call that sounds like a rabbit screaming.

Last night was very chilly. I used my space blanket and had the tent rain fly (the only part of the tent I’ve kept) over me as well as under me. I was warm though noisy (the space blanket makes a racket whenever I move!).

Elizabeth Marshall Thomas writes about “The Old Way.” She learned about this during her childhood years with hunter-gatherers in the Kalahari Desert. I want to learn more about this. Apparently, the Kalahari people are very tough; they can endure a lot of pain (like animals). Thomas writes about how soft our population has become.

_______________________________

I enlarge the social playing field here in the US by pushing boundaries. As someone with a history of mental illness (1975 suicide attempt and subsequent two-month incarceration in Napa State Hospital in California) and homelessness (irrelevant that it’s by choice), pushing boundaries is easy. Life-long social outsider status has made my skin thick and my boundaries wide. I can push boundaries all day almost without even noticing I’m doing it! It’s normal to me.

It’s so important to “question authority,” as we used to say. So many  lies are passed on as fact. Elizabeth Thomas writes about this in The Hidden Life of Deer: as a kid she was told lots of lies (misinformation) about nature (e.g., about deer). It wasn’t until she was in her 20s that Thomas began to question the things adults had told her, and she began to realize how much of it was just bullshit.

Lots of misinformation is circulated because it benefits someone or some group. For example, the lie that women past menopause lose interest in sex and the lie that old women are not sexy; these lies benefit men, especially older men (who then have justification [though they don’t require it; they have social privilege] to date young women and ignore us oldies).

Now that I am empowered and liberated, I can date whomever I choose (as men have done for a very long time). And I also (like men) choose young people (young men, in my case).

_____________________________________

Asperger Syndrome

“If we could eliminate the genes for things like autism, I think it would be disastrous,” says Wilhelmsen. “The healthiest state for a gene pool is maximum diversity of things that might be good.” from “The Geek Syndrome” by Steve Silberman in WIRED (online news magazine)

From the same wonderful article:

The (Silicon) Valley (in California) is a self-selecting community where passionately bright people migrate from all over the world to make smart machines work smarter. The nuts-and-bolts practicality of hard labor among the bits appeals to the predilections of the high-functioning autistic mind. The hidden cost of building enclaves like this, however, may be lurking in the findings of nearly every major genetic study of autism in the last 10 years. Over and over again, researchers have concluded that the DNA scripts for autism are probably passed down not only by relatives who are classically autistic, but by those who display only a few typically autistic behaviors. (Geneticists call those who don’t fit into the diagnostic pigeonholes “broad autistic phenotypes.”)

The chilling possibility is that what’s happening now is the first proof that the genes responsible for bestowing certain special gifts on slightly autistic adults – the very abilities that have made them dreamers and architects of our technological future – are capable of bringing a plague down on the best minds of the next generation. For parents employed in prominent IT firms here, the news of increased diagnoses of autism in their ranks is a confirmation of rumors that have quietly circulated for months. Every day, more and more of their coworkers are running into one another in the waiting rooms of local clinics, taking the first uncertain steps on a journey with their children that lasts for the rest of their lives.

In previous eras, even those who recognized early that autism might have a genetic underpinning considered it a disorder that only moved diagonally down branches of a family tree. Direct inheritance was almost out of the question, because autistic people rarely had children. The profoundly affected spent their lives in institutions, and those with Asperger’s syndrome tended to be loners. They were the strange uncle who droned on in a tuneless voice, tending his private logs of baseball statistics or military arcana; the cousin who never married, celibate by choice, fussy about the arrangement of her things, who spoke in a lexicon mined reading dictionaries cover to cover.

The old line “insanity is hereditary, you get it from your kids” has a twist in the autistic world. It has become commonplace for parents to diagnose themselves as having Asperger’s syndrome, or to pinpoint other relatives living on the spectrum, only after their own children have been diagnosed.

High tech hot spots like the Valley, and Route 128 outside of Boston*, are a curious oxymoron: They’re fraternal associations of loners. In these places, if you’re a geek living in the high-functioning regions of the spectrum, your chances of meeting someone who shares your perseverating obsession (think Linux or Star Trek) are greatly expanded. As more women enter the IT workplace, guys who might never have had a prayer of finding a kindred spirit suddenly discover that she’s hacking Perl scripts in the next cubicle.

One provocative hypothesis that might account for the rise of spectrum disorders in technically adept communities like Silicon Valley, some geneticists speculate, is an increase in assortative mating. Superficially, assortative mating is the blond gentleman who prefers blondes; the hyperverbal intellectual who meets her soul mate in the therapist’s waiting room. There are additional pressures and incentives for autistic people to find companionship – if they wish to do so – with someone who is also on the spectrum. Grandin writes, “Marriages work out best when two people with autism marry or when a person marries a handicapped or eccentric spouse…. They are attracted because their intellects work on a similar wavelength.”

(*Hey, that’s where I grew up!)

__________________________________________

THOUGHTS in my regular “Two-shots of espresso, please” (“That’ll be $2.95.”) morning hang-out, The Ojai Coffee Roasters:

(By the way, Ojai is the kinda place where you only have to know one thing in order to successfully socialize: how to be/act snooty.)

1.)     Eccentrics = contentment. Song: “Takin’ the Easy Way Out” (rather than, like most folks, wanting to influence others and gain power over them). I notice it when others try to influence me.  Nature is about relaxing (Nature takes you as you are); City life is hyperactive (no one takes you as you are). Gaia (the earth/nature): no emotion.

2.)     Article on pg. 1 og “Late Extra” in the L.A. Times: “Stressful at the top? Not really: A study finds low anxiety among executives and other leaders”. This article says people with “a sense of control (over as many others as possible [the more the better]) are content and relaxed (more than people “below” them who are fighting for power and not sure they’ll ever get it. This is all within a framework of “hierarchy” and involves people “enjoying control over their schedules, their daily living circumstances, their financial security, their enterprises and their lives.”

I THOUGHT about this while sipping my espresso out of a sweet little cup. I have felt this kind of relaxed control for 36 years… ever since I got on SSI (thank you Napa State Hospital). My income is low, but it’s not going anywhere (it’s secure). I choose what I do everyday; no one tells me what to do. I can indulge my creativity to any extent I choose. My life is a pleasure, and I am fulfilled, happy and relaxed.

Maybe feeling a “sense” of control and feeling just plain “in control” of one’s life give a person the same kind of relief from stress. What then is REAL “control” over one’s life? All control is an illusion. The idea of social status though is real; Thomas goes into this in The Hidden Life of Deer.: high status deer control access to food and good sleeping places. So what is “high status” in the human realm? I think I have very high status since I have left behind (“dropped out of”) the competition for money (and possessions and territory) and the struggle for class position and power over others. I guess really those two things, money and class position/power over others, are the same thing or amount to the same thing.

To me, contentment means not fearing or desiring anything. Including money, class position, and power over others. Is this an illusion?

Sept. 26

I thought about this issue at camp last night, and I realized what the fly in the pudding is. It is wrong to control others (whatever their species).

As Elizabeth Thomas relates in her …Deer book, even mice strive for control in lab experiments. (“Mice and rats… are our closest relatives in North America,” she writes. She also relates the fact, observed by many people including herself, that mice sing!) Every living creature wants control over their own life. And this is why it is arrogant and wrong for people to be relaxed because they are in a position of CONTROL OVER OTHER PEOPLE. They are finding succor in a basic tenet of American society: it’s OK to compete and get in a superior position in the social hierarchy, even if that means control over other people or any species. Taking away the freedom of any living thing to control its own life is just plain unethical and immoral.

_______________________________

From May 2011 Discover magazine:

What’s the News: In another glorious reminder of how weird nature really is, it’s time to get ready for the swarm: This May, after spending 13 years underground, huge populations of cicadas will emerge in the southern U.S. to molt, sing their riotous mating tunes, and breed. It’s a brief coda to their long adolescence in burrows 30 cm beneath the soil—by July, they will be dead, and their children will be beginning their years of exile from the surface.

What’s the Context:

  • While there are plenty of cicada species that send a generation to the surface every year, cyclical cicadas (of the genus Magicicada) come out en masse after 13 or 17 years. Scientists believe that this strategy evolved as a way to overwhelm predators—when there are so many cicadas around at one time, a good many of them will probably survive.

__________________________________________

I am aware that I prefer being a witness to good things that happen rather than seeing the bad things. Watching bad things happen is very hard. Most people would agree with this. But it’s still cowardly. I have to be stronger and not turn away; I can look at bad things and then write about it.

I realized this (that I avoid the bad) when I was reading Elizabeth Thomas’ …Deer book: she writes about seeing a deer hit by a car — a deer she knew from her long, daily observations of wildlife around her New Hampshire house — and then watching the thoughtless cruelty of two men (her neighbors), dragging the deer (bumping her head and pulling on her broken legs) for 50 feet, away from the little kids who were there watching, and then shooting the deer (“to put it out of its misery”). I would not have wanted to see any of this, and I know Thomas didn’t either. But she did, and then she wrote about it.

__________________________________

The poorest state in America is Mississippi, data released from the US Census Bureau from 2011 found, with median income there reaching only $36,919.

 By comparison, the nation’s richest state, Maryland, had a median income nearly double that of Mississippi, $70,004,

Read more at http://www.inquisitr.com/342884/poorest-state-is-mississippi-also-the-fattest/#TpzkR24bdRS7i4P6.99

__________________________________________

I wanted to create a new paradigm for living. Most people, including really smart people, just do as well as they can WITHIN the social context they have inherited (i.e., their society and their culture). They stay “within the box”; they may succeed really well within the box; they may get to the top (a controlling position) within the box. But they are still within the box.

I found another way to live. I created it out of my dreams. It has morphed continuously since I’ve been practicing this new way of life, which is about camping out in the woods alone (with or without a tent) and traveling around the world, usually using the website Couchsurfing.org.

The Old Way Elizabeth Thomas writes about has its roots and reasons things that are “lost in time.” The Old Way is passed down through the generations, from the Older and Wiser ones to the Young and Dumb ones. But then along comes someone like me with Asperger Syndrome, and we see the paradigm, the Old Way, in a new light. We change the dimensions of our lives; we don’t just accept what has been passed down to us.

I think our American culture is deeply flawed; if I didn’t, what would be the reason to change it? I would find contentment, satisfaction and fulfillment in living in the Old Way. Our society, however, needs a deep overhaul and a massive infusion of new perspectives.

But the Old Way Thomas is writing about is really deeper than any surface changes I or anyone else may make. American society doesn’t even scratch the surface of the Old Way.

__________________________

Thomas opens her book with the poem “Camping Alone” by Howard Nelson.

My friend Antler spends weeks alone in the wilderness every fall…

He says that every year he leaves a little more of himself in the woods,

And that someday there will be more of him out there than here—

I think it may have already happened.

Someday, maybe—I’ll go to some lonely spot and pitch my tent

and spend my days doing what one does when alone in the woods

and sleep night after night under the ten thousand stars….

The solo camper, Antler, that Nelson writes about is different from me. He goes out into the “wilderness.” I go into woods at the fringes of the wilderness and the fringes of the town. At the border, in no-man’s-land. I like it there; were I with a friend, I may go deep into the wilderness, and someday I might do that. I have camped, years ago, with some people, and we went way back into the New Mexico woods to a spot called “Turkey Creek.” It was 6 miles in; Seth was with me (he was about 7 years old), and he walked all the way in, too.

What I like to do is go out into the woods around 5 pm and spend the night out there. I read and watch the life around me from whenever I get there at the end of the day until it’s dark. I watch the birds and squirrels settling down for the night around 6 pm. Early in the morning, around dawn or a little later, I head on into town. I socialize, though I am a loner and often I don’t talk to anyone all day. But I am not a hermit by any means, and I don’t know if I would enjoy being out in the woods, alone with the animals and trees (although I do love them) all day without other humans and stores and coffee, etc.

But I do love spending my nights in the peaceful woods, with other species all around me. Am I an unwilling exile from human society, forced out by my differences and outsider status? Or am I a voluntary defector who has found a solution and a salve for some of the modern ills of society?

_________________________

I try to avoid ego and courting social respectability. I try to not flatter others’ egos (especially men’s who, in a male-dominated culture, have big enough egos as it is).

Sept. 24, 2012

I am looking for a title for my individual blogs: I want them all to have the same name. I am trying “Tree Spirits” as a way of calling up Guardian Spirits (or Guardian Angels). I think it’s a little weak for a title, but then perhaps having a new title for every posting is better anyway.

I am sleeping under trees every night. I believe they are protecting and helping me in many ways, including the physical: the space at the base of a tree is warmer.

from Wikipedia:

A guardian angel is an angel assigned to protect and guide a particular person or group. Belief in guardian angels can be traced throughout all antiquity. The concept of tutelary angels and their hierarchy was extensively developed in Christianity in the 5th century by Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite.

The theology of angels and tutelary spirits has undergone many refinements since the 400s. Belief in both the East and the West is that guardian angels serve to protect whichever person God assigns them to,[1] and present prayer to God on that person’s behalf.

_________________________________

We all know that men in Western societies experience a 50% decrease in testosterone between age 30 and 50 when they go through andropause. John Gray (author of Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus) was speaking recently in Ventura, California. He said that men in indigenous societies do not go through this loss of testosterone. Why? Gray didn’t answer this question directly. Indirectly, he seemed to say that it’s stress-related: men in the US are over-stressed. (from The Bubble, Vol. 6, Winter/Spring 2012: L.A., Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties)

______________________

Camping Sept. 23

I am camping up in Horn Canyon again. Last night the dusky-footed woodrats were jumping around in the leaves all night long. I couldn’t sleep. Around 2 am, a skunk or an opossum came through my camp. It was about 5 feet from where I was lying! I was afraid it was a skunk so I didn’t shine my light on it to see what it was.

In the pre-dawn hours, wild noises — like squawks — came from the hillside above me to the left. I have no idea what bird (or animal) this came from. It was very loud, but not really scary, just odd.

Three things cannot be hidden for long: the sun, the moon, the truth. ~~Buddha

___________________________________

May we live like the lotus, at home in muddy water. ~~Buddha

I am eating one meal a day now. This is for two reasons: it’s the end of the month, and I’m broke (although my Bank of America account has about $50 more dollars in it than it should…); and I absolutely have to lower my cholesterol. My one meal consists of: raw veggies (1 carrot and some red cabbage, for example), fruit (any), some protein (like a can of sardines). I am not getting enough food (especially protein), but I feel good (although I have much less energy) and the first is in about a week and then I’ll start eating more. I like the discipline of this kind of small, limited diet.

I need sensation. No one touches me… maybe a brief hug or air-kiss now and then. Ugh! This is what makes me want one-night-stands. I want to be touched! Whether or not I want sex is questionable. Well, no, it’s not. I always welcome good sex. Nothing like it in the world! But how does one get it without personals ads or Craigslist ads. My ads are always removed from CL within a day now* anyway: too many men object to sexually active 66-year-old women getting laid (when they can’t find a dame to save their souls). (*”now” is relative: I haven’t even tried to post a personals ad on CL for about three years)

_________________________________________

Someone is killing coyotes up in the hills. For the last week or so, no coyotes have been howling. During the past few weeks, they were howling like crazy every night. I heard a strange, coyote-like sound in the hills after the coyotes stopped howling: I bet it was a coyote imitation thing that I read about. But the coyotes have left the building for the time being.

I am trying two weeks without sugar (starting today). I did this once before, and I completely lost my taste for sugar. I want to do this again.

My fears while camping are lessening to such a huge degree that my attention is free for being aware of my surroundings. I have mentioned this here recently. It’s a very big change, and I’m loving it.

As an Aspie, I never used to take my kids to parks. Our “animal-like” autistic brains can’t tolerate the open-space of most parks: we feel too exposed and vulnerable in such places. This is just one of many differences between me (and other Aspie parents) and NT parents. When Megan was about 13, her best friend, Katrina, was so loud and so chaotic, I asked Meg to not bring her into the house when I was there. I couldn’t tolerate the noise and the unbalanced energy. Megan was very resentful of this and didn’t understand it; in fact, I didn’t understand it either at that point because I didn’t yet know I was autistic. It was a terrible thing to have these intense, unusual, and confusing sensations and not be able to justify them. I just seemed and felt like a weirdo. This is what used to frustrate Aspies so much: they knew they weren’t weird people, but there was no explanation until Asperger Syndrome was discovered in the mid-1990s. Awful. Depression and, in my family, suicide often resulted from this intolerable situation. That is why depression is considered one of the symptoms of Asperger Syndrome; I don’t think it’s a physical, neuro-physiological part of the disorder. It is, rather, a response to the social situation around Aspergers.

People in the Silicon Valley (IT center in California) are producing 2 to 3 times more kids with Asperger Syndrome. It’s genetic!

__________________________________

Portugal has decided to not change the amounts of money workers contribute to social security. They were going to have workers contribute more (18% of their salaries) and employers contribute less (also 18% of their earnings); they decided not to. (from 9/24/2012 Wall Street Journal) I wrote about this in a recent edition of these notes, and I thought I’d just edit it to stay up-to-date with information.

____________________________

How to fight: make fun of the thing you don’t like.

______________________________

On U.S. veterans and PTSD: for every soldier killed in battle now, 25 veterans commit suicide.

_________________________________

Camping Sept. 24

Got to camp at 5:15 yesterday afternoon. Still hot. Lots of flies buzzing around. 6:30 flies stop and it cools down a bit. The California quail start making some noise around 7 pm, prior to their finding roosts for the night (they are no longer coming to the trees around my camp).

I was lied to about sleeping outdoors. Granted my adoptive parents were city people, especially Dad (from Berlin, Germany). Neither of them knew anything about the countryside, camping, nature, etc. ad nauseam. But even post-childhood, I never heard anyone talk about just sleeping out in the woods, alone, with or without a tent. Why not? It’s so much fun. And now that I’m starting to relax out there (it only took me 35 years), it’s even more awesome.

Last night, I heard a rather large (for a mouse or rat) critter in the branches right above my head. I am daring now to shine my light about at night if there seems to be a creature to be seen in my general vicinity. I looked around the thicket and spotted him (her?): a white and light brown rat 6 or 7 inches long plus a shorter tail. Yikes! She/he was looking right at me (from about 7 feet away) in a very sweet, friendly way. I don’t think this is a woodrat. I will look this up in a minute and report back. I thought woodrats were about 4 inches long and grayish-black. I’ve seen such a creature, and the little animals that usually jump and scratch around in the leaves all night seem to be like this.

I smelled a skunk during the night, and it might have been my visitor from the other night. The weirdest thing last night at camp though was a humming sound coming from under my pillow. It hummed for about 2 seconds (going up a little in pitch), then repeated this sound after about 6 seconds. This went on and on until I got so excited I couldn’t stand it. I accidentally made a lot of noise, moving my pillow (actually my folded-in-half backpack with a small bag of clothes on top of it for softness). I was trying to hear it better, but of course I just scared it away. Now, what in the HELL could that have been? This really miffs me. It’s VERY exciting, isn’t it? Something humming not far under the ground (which is covered with dry California Black Oak leaves)!

OK, I just did some googling: 1.)     The Desert Kangaroo Rat, whose territory probably overlaps into this area (not sure), fits the bill. It’s big — can get 14″ long and it’s lighter-colored than the Dusky Footed Woodrat. 2.)     Cicadas (which can stay underground in their larval state for 13 years) and other such insects may be humming under the ground and near enough to the surface that I heard one of them last night. Absolutely fascinating!

_________________________

I am reading Elizabeth Marshall Thomas’ The Hidden Life of Deer (2009).  It’s a magnificent book, as good as Reid’s Coyote, which I just finished. Thomas lives in New Hampshire; she also wrote The Hidden Life of Dogs and studied elephants with Katy Payne in Africa. What’s really interesting about Thomas is her early-life adventures. Here’s a bit on that:

When I was in my late teens and early twenties I lived in the unexplored interior of the Kalahari Desert in Africa with people who were hunter-gatherers. My father was more than a farmer. He was also a civil engineer and a businessman, and later in life, an explorer. My mother was an anthropologist. That’s why we went. The experience stayed with me, and ever since then, I’ve seen the world through the lens of the Kalahari. The people among whom we lived had been there for 35,000 years at least and as such, were living the life we all once lived when we were part of the African savannah fauna. They lived in the Old Way, and their culture had enormous stability, meaning that they kept the Old Rules that were laid down by necessity — the kind of rules that all who live in the natural world must keep.

…Few things are predictable in the natural world. This is an Old Rule, and the deer know it.

At one point Thomas says of the deer that some have higher status than others, and status means territory which is all-important. I thought about now, how I camp on other people’s land (or National Forest Land), and why people get so upset when other people — like me (a “homeless” person) — take over their land a little bit. Are we thus trespassing on their social status? Am I, a humble social “inferior,” taking more than our society says one should?

______________________________________

James Bond became “a Totem of Western Culture” (read in a magazine: AARP, I think). What is totemism (when used in this way)?

from Bing’s online Dictionary:

~~(refering to) social organization: the organizing of societies into groups whose members share a common totem

from Wikipedia:

The founder of a French school of sociology, Émile Durkheim, examined totemism from a sociological and theological point of view[citation needed]. Durkheim hoped to discover a pure religion in very ancient forms and generally claimed to see the origin of religion in totemism. For Durkheim, the sphere of the sacred is a reflection of the emotions that underlie social activities, and the totem was, in this view, a reflection of the group (or clan) consciousness, based on the conception of an impersonal power. The totemistic principle was then the clan itself, and it was permeated with sanctity. Durkheim held that such a religion reflects the collective consciousness that is manifested through the identification of the individuals of the group with an animal or plant species; it is expressed outwardly in taboos, symbols, and rituals that are based on this identification.

In further contributions, Goldenweiser in 1915–16 and 1918 criticized Lang, Frazer, and Durkheim and insisted that totemism had nothing to do with religion; he held instead that man in no way viewed his totem as superior to himself or as a deified being but viewed it as his friend and equal[citation needed]. Goldenweiser also rejected Frazer’s thesis of conceptionalism as an explanation of totemism. On the other hand, Goldenweiser was of the opinion that all totemistic manifestations do have at least something of a kind of religion, but he was not inclined to include the guardian spirit conception within totemism.

In 1916 an American ethnologist, Franz Boas, suggested that totemism exhibited no single psychological or historical origin; since totemistic features can be connected with individuals and all possible social organizations, and they appear in different cultural contexts, it would be impossible to fit totemistic phenomena into a single category[citation needed]. Boas was against systematizing and thought it senseless to ask questions about the origins of totemism.

__________________________

What made me a radical and a crusader?

1.)     Dad , who was bitter over his life-experiences (childhood poverty, childhood abuse, immigrant status, hatred of Germans in post-WW II USA)

2.)     Responses to my being an adoptee.

3.)     Responses to my family being German (post-WW II).

4.)     Responses to my sudden post-divorce “poverty.”

5.)     Being on-the-street in 1975 and afterward.

6.)     Responses to my incarceration in a mental hospital.

7.)     Responses to my being an unmarried mother, and a mother on welfare.

to be continued…

Sept. 23, 2012

    To be unaware of or unresponsive to other’s body language can be a great asset. Sometimes I “rock” (a classic, autistic movement) just to keep my own focus undistracted.

I observe myself making choices all the time to NOT respond to others in order to keep my own focus.

Today on Facebook, I wrote that a friend had clarified her boundaries for me when I told her she was   confusing me. Sometimes I thought she wanted to be a friend; at other times, she was distinctily unwelcoming.  I got some input from another Facebook friend, Vicki, whose husband and two children are Asperger Syndrome people:

“I actually think it’s a deficiency in neurotypical relationships that people don’t seem to be able to talk clearly & openly about boundaries. Good for you & for your friend for talking this out.”

Here is a picture of me with my two daughters, Anya on the left, and Megan on the right. Boulder, Colorado, 2010 or 2011.

______________________
from Sept. 22, 2012 Wall Street Journal:
30,000 protest at the gates of an Islamic extremist group that (it is said) killed 4 Americans (U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and 3 other Americans) in Benghazi, Libya’s second largest city (pop. 1 million). Libya has many heavily-armed mini-armies since Gadhafi was ousted; these groups fought Gadhafi. These militias (Libya’s Islamic radicals) attack Muslims who “don’t abide by their hard-line ideology).
World’s Most Violent Cities: Karachi, Pakistan is one. Here are some more:
The 10 Most Dangerous Cities in 2012
January 26, 2012 by in History, Misc, Places
Tourists and travelers looking for a good destination in 2012 should be aware of problem areas all over the world in terms of crime and stability so they can know what they’re getting into if they decide to go to one of these places. Some of the best tourist countries and destinations in the world have their unsafe areas and regions, so let’s take a look at some of the most dangerous cities in 2012.
Please keep in mind that statistical crime data is very difficult to obtain in many of these unstable regions, so the order of the list is approximated instead of calculated.
10. Caracas, Venezuela
Caracas is a city torn apart by drug trafficking and an abundance of petty crimes. Robbery is commonplace even in broad daylight, and the police have very little control over criminal activity. Many locals blame the government who is apathetic to these issues, much more protection is needed for many cities in Venezuela because it’s geological position makes it a drug running haven.
9. Mogadishu, Somalia
The capitol of Somalia is still in turmoil and the outlook for 2012 is not bright. Civil war has torn apart the city (and the country) for two decades and political violence is very easily sparked. Accurate statistical data is almost impossible to obtain because of how belligerent local militias are, but it’s safe to say that Mogadishu is quite dangerous, an essentially lawless city with an abundance of bandits. A huge amount of it’s citizens abandoned the city three years ago leaving behind bombed out shells of buildings, but it remains as violent as ever.
8. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

While Rio de Janeiro has some fantastic beaches and beautiful landscapes, you should not be lulled into a false sense of security should you visit. There are many slum/shanty areas where about %20 of the population lives in economic turmoil, and this struggle has given way to an ongoing conflict between drug traffickers and the local police force. Tourists and travelers are advised to stay away from the mountainous regions and poor areas of the city, especially at night. The police are there to protect you, but be aware that bribery is commonplace with them and that you may need some money to get out of a bind.

7. Grozny, Chechnya, Russia

In the mid 1990′s a very destructive conflict began between Chechnya and Russia. Grozny was left in shambles after a barrage of shells, missiles, and dynamite tore the city asunder- there were thousands dead and the toll on the city was massive. While the fighting apparently ended in 2006, it remains a very dangerous place full of crime both organized and petty. It’s especially dangerous for western tourists because of high kidnapping rates.

6. Ciudad Juarez, Mexico

The drug cartels in Mexico show no signs of slowing down their business, and Ciudad Juarez is one of the worst affected areas. The drug trafficking groups in Mexico are notoriously violent and stop at absolutely nothing to move their product, they have control over the region and can do pretty much whatever they want. This city has been called one of the most violent places in the world outside of war zones, and the police force is known to be corrupt. The blame for this violence is often attributed to the Mexican government, but others blame the ongoing American war on drugs that facilitates the illegal drug trade.

5. Bogota, Colombia

Bogota’s main problem lies in the drug trade and extremist political groups rebelling against the Colombian government, but fortunately there have been some improvements since the 90′s. The north side of the city is absolutely more safe that the southern regions, it’s advisable to stay in this area and no to wander past the city limits. Bogota is a great tourist destination with lots to see, just be careful and don’t stray too far from safe areas.

4. Baghdad, Iraq

Baghdad suffers from a very unstable political climate with many different factions destroying the city in their own way. The infrastructure has been torn apart by bombings and the streets are filled with unpredictable violence. The invasion by the United States in 2003 further escalated violence in the city and it has been a hostile place ever since. A lack of organization and infrastructure further exacerbate tension among Iraqis.

3. Guatemala City, Guatemala

Guatemala as a whole is riddled with crime because of a corrupt government and police force who are not at all equipped to deal with the abundance of criminal activity. The capitol has it the worst, the huge gap between the rich and poor is brought into stark contrast and robbery and violence are commonplace. It’s a shame because it’s such a beautiful city and country, but the corruption runs too deep for the streets to be safe.

2. San Pedro Sula, Honduras

This city in Honduras has one of the highest murder rates in the world and is considered even more dangerous than areas of Iraq and Afghanistan. Robbery is a rampant problem and almost everyone must carry a weapon of some sort for protection. Even minor disputes are often settled with violence and walking the streets requires extreme caution. Tourists are especially warned, anyone appearing to be a foreigner are specific targets for criminals.

1. Cape Town, South Africa

While Cape Town is a huge tourist attraction and a big city full of things to do, it also has extremely high crime rates and walking down the wrong street at the wrong time can put you in harms way. The disparity between socioeconomic classes is a major factor for criminal activity, and robbery is extremely common. Tourists are advised to do their research and stay in a relatively safe part of the city, don’t walk around unless the streets are well-lit with plenty of people out and be extra careful if you have to use an ATM.

______________________________________

Employers and workers in different countires contribute widely-varying amounts of money to Social Security.

In the USA workers contribute 5.65% of their salaries and employers contribute 9.7% of the payroll.

Here are some figures from the euro zone:

Ireland: 4% – workers, 4.25% – employers

Spain: 6.25%, 31.08%

Italy: 9.19%, 31.78%

France: 9.9%, 32.68%

Portugal: 11%, 23.75% (WSJ article focused on Portugal’s upcoming changes: workers will pay more, employers will pay less)

Greece: 12.05%, 22.6%

Germany: 20.43%, 20.85%

Slovenia: 21.1%, 16.1%

____________________________

A columnist in the WSJ was writing about his income. He said that, by calling himself relatively poor, he was describing “a quality problem.” In other words, this man couldn’t always have the amount of quality in his food, housing, etc. that he wanted. I don’t have to choose between food and groceries, he said, like some people do. So, he understood that he wasn’t poor, only dissatisfied.

That’s what I have experienced financially for over 35 years: a quality problem. I recognized it as such early on, and I have never resented it (well, almost never). Instead, I have made it a mission to find ways to exploit it: such as camping while saving money for my next trip. Many more inventive, creative discoveries await me in this field!

Yesterday I went to Dr. Raheel, my doc who was born in Afghanistan. My “bad cholesterol” is totally out of whack. I have been over-indulging myself with yummy food for months. Making my coffees half-and-half plus a little coffee; having day-old chocolate croissants every morning; eating fudge and ice cream whenever I wanted. Oh, it’s just real bad! Now, if I value my heart, I have to cut way, way back. It’s not about looking/being “fat” (which is such a vanity issue); it’s about having a heart that will keep beating. I have really been stressing my heart out, and I could sometimes really feel it working overly-hard. It’s a lot more work for my body to digest rich foods now, especially after a life-time (starting in earliest childhood) of eating lots of sugary, heavy sweets (like Mom’s wonderful homemade brownies and cookies).

_________________________

As an Aspie, I often purposely, consciously reject Neuro-typicals’ values as flawed or unnecessary or excessive. I don’t think people with Asperger Syndrome are usually considered as making this decision consciously, but I believe that at least some of us do.

My responses toward NT men are often so negative (because they EXPECT certain NT responses, and I don’t give these) that I occasionally worry that my health is affected. Negative reactions have physical, not just psychological, effects, and I do have to pay attention to this.

__________________________________________

Women’s Rights in the news:

Human Rights Watch urged the Afghan government to take immediate steps to end the unlawful imprisonment of women and girls accused of “running away.” Up to 70 percent of the approximately 700 female prisoners in Afghanistan have been imprisoned for running away, nearly always for fleeing forced marriage or domestic violence, a March 2012 Human Rights Watch report found. (Sept. 18, 2012)

________________________________

Here is a picture of me with my son, Seth. It’s almost two years old.

Sept. 22, 2012

Lola, my divine-diva computer teacher in Ojai, Ca., summer/fall 2012

It is so much fun learning computer skills with the bodacious Lola (a.k.a. Laureli). She’s a natural computer-genius type. I am learning a lot from Lola.

In a little over a week, I will buy my own computer. I am very excited about this! I plan to go to Best Buy and get an Acer.

________________________________

I think the fact that people with Asperger Syndrome are less sociable liberates us Aspies from over-extended contact with our own species and makes us more aware not only of inanimate objects, but also of other species. Thus, as humans become ever-more civilized, Aspies add the element of non-anthropomorphism.

Anthropomorphism or personification is any attribution of human characteristics (or characteristics assumed to belong only to humans) to other animals, non-living things, phenomena, material states, objects or abstract concepts, such as organizations, governments, spirits or deities. The term was coined in the mid 1700s.[1][2] Examples include animals and plants and forces of nature such as winds, rain or the sun depicted as creatures with human motivations, and/or the abilities to reason and converse.

Let’s look at anthropomorphism and Asperger Syndrome:

In the last decades, evolutionary psychologists have proposed that a propensity to believe in a supernatural power derives from something very fundamental: humans’ highly developed mentalizing abilities, which are part of our evolutionary heritage and are believed to have evolved to help us live in complex social groups. Mentalizing abilities include our frequent need to imagine what others’ are thinking, and our tendency to anthropomorphize. We may jump to conclusions such as believing that damage to our property was purposefully caused by that neighbor we’ve been arguing with, rather than thinking it was caused by some natural event or accident. Evolutionary psychologists such as Scott Atran, Justin Barrett, and Jesse Bering have proposed that believing that a supernatural being was active in events around us is only one step removed from this kind of daily inference about others’ motives.

But what does mentalizing have to do with Asperger’s syndrome? Neuropsychologist Simon Baron-Cohen* was among the first to popularize the notion that autistic individuals either have lower mentalizing abilities than neurotypical individuals, or are simply less interested in the drama of others’ internal beliefs and motivations. The inference is that if autistic individuals are less likely to mentalize and anthropomorphize, they may be less likely to believe in God.

(All underlines, bold type, italics, and the star are mine; *Simon is the cousin of Sacha Baron Cohen of Borat fame and the director of the  Autism Research Center at Great Britain’s University of Cambridge)

For me, I am “simply less interested in the drama of others’ internal beliefs and motivations.” It is a choice I make many times a day when people call for my response and attention and when social norms require that I respond to others of my species. I choose instead to focus on what I am thinking and feeling. NTs (Neuro-typicals or non-autistics) absolutely can not fathom this; they do not know what we are doing, and they don’t like this deviation from the norm.

Social norms are described by sociologists as being laws that govern society’s behaviors. Although these norms are not considered to be formal laws within society, they still work to promote a great deal of social control. Social norms can be enforced formally (e.g., through sanctions) or informally (e.g., through body language and non-verbal communication cues.) If people do not follow these norms then they become labeled as deviants and this can lead to them being considered the outcast of society. What is considered “normal” is relative to the location of the culture in which the social interaction is taking place. Norms in every culture create conformity that allows for people to become socialized to the culture in which they live.

(Note: “body language and non-verbal communication cues” are things we Aspies are not attuned to. I think this non-attunement is partly an intentional choice and partly a response that is required by our particular brain structure.)

It’s a very creative attribute to not need or desire to care about others ALL THE TIME and to not feel the need to conform to (or pretend to conform to) what Neuro-typicals demand. And I absolutely think that we Aspies, because we don’t constantly care about other humans and because we have these “primitive,” more animal brains, are much more attuned to other species. And I personally believe this is a much-needed and long absent quality in human beings.

When I was raising children, I didn’t know I was an Aspie. I didn’t have that justification for my need to be so different from the norm. In American society, being myself means being different from the majority of people. When my children turned about three-years-old, I began to turn away from them slightly; I noticed this enough to still remember it to this day. It bothered me because I didn’t understand it. Now I know it was because of my Aspergers: I was turning away from socializing to an extent with which I am uncomfortable. Children are very sociable and open at that age, and they were turned outward at the point where I turned naturally inward.

Another thing about Aspies is that we all are said to have “male brains.” This is why I am a great adventurer (much more than most women), and it explains why I have never known how to flirt and meet men for sex. Even the way I write about this (“meet men for sex”) reveals my uniquely Aspie approach to sex. On my Couchsurfing.org profile, I say: “I love sex! And I love sex with younger men. Older men are good for friendship; younger men are good for sex.” I don’t think most women would write something like this (although women are changing in this respect), but to me it is not only true, it’s natural. That’s how I am: and that’s why I had to resort to newspaper and Craigslist ads to meet men (which is how I eventually got into a position to investigate the field of prostitution).

Aspies also don’t like, follow or understand trends. A trendy car, for example, is a THING that has accrued a certain MEANING because of ways people in our culture THINK about that car. This is just too weird. It’s a big fake construct, to begin with.

____________________________________

I saw two beautiful gray foxes in the early morning in the woods near Thacher School a few weeks ago. Catherine Reid in Coyote writes that gray foxes are more secretive than reds, and they can climb trees.

___________________________

Our society and our culture teach us how to SEE. People in some societies can literally see things we cannot because they were told these things (like ghosts or colors) are there.

We are told older men are and look “distinguished” and that older women have no sex appeal. So that’s what we see. And that’s how we age in a male-dominated society. If we were told that older women are very sexy (maybe based on physical appearance, but maybe also based on wisdom and experience, etc.), then THAT would be the nature of our reality. And then women would act and feel more beautiful and sexy and have tons of younger lovers to make them feel wonderful! Think about it.

__________________________________

I am amazed that life is so good. Why didn’t anyone tell me I could camp in the woods for months at a time, being around the animals and birds and lizards for half the day and all night? Has anyone ever told you that you could do this (if you wanted to)? Probably not. Why not? Is this some kind of secret knowledge or something? Have I always been in social groups which ignored and spurned this kind of knowledge or something? I don’t understand why sleeping outdoors, on the ground, in the woods (not to mention being alone) is not talked about more. It’s such a radically wild and wonderful thing to do. Perhaps if I had hung out more with naturalists and outdoor people I would have heard of people doing it a lot more.

Yesterday a lizard came to watch me at camp. She stayed for about 20 minutes, then she jumped and ran from tree to tree to rocks and along the 60 or so feet of old branches that go around one and a half sides of the camp. These woody piles are where the dusky-footed woodrats live. I waited for an hour, watching for one to appear, until darkness took over. Perhaps the smell of my jar of coconut oil scared them. A couple of squirrels ran around, but it was the friendly, curious 5″ lizard that made me feel, for the first time at this camp, welcomed and befriended.

 

Below is a picture of my bed on the ground before I moved my bed about 15 feet forward to a lower spot where I am not as visible from the trail. In the middle of the left side of this photo can be seen the brush pile that extends around 1 1/2 sides of my camp.

Sept. 20, 2012

I love E.O. Wilson, the myrmecologist (person who studies ants). He won a Pulitzer for two of his books: On Human Nature (1979) and The Ants (1991).

E. O. Wilson

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
E. O. Wilson

October 16, 2007
Born June 10, 1929 (age 83)
Birmingham, Alabama, United States
Nationality American
Fields Biologist
Institutions Harvard University
Alma mater University of Alabama
Harvard University
Thesis A Monographic Revision of the Ant Genus Lasius (1955)
Doctoral students Daniel Simberloff
Donald J. Farish
Known for Coining the term ‘sociobiology’
Epic of Evolution
Character displacement
Notable awards Pulitzer Prize (1979)
Crafoord Prize (1990)
Pulitzer Prize (1991)
Kistler Prize (2000)
Nierenberg Prize (2001)

Edward Osborne Wilson (born June 10, 1929) is an American biologist, researcher (sociobiology, biodiversity), theorist (consilience, biophilia), naturalist (conservationist) and author. His biological specialty is myrmecology, the study of ants, on which he is considered to be the world’s leading authority.[1]

Wilson is known for his scientific career, his role as “the father of sociobiology“, his environmental advocacy, and his secular-humanist and deist ideas pertaining to religious and ethical matters.[2]

Wilson was the Joseph Pellegrino University Research Professor in Entomology for the Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University and a Fellow of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry. He is a Humanist Laureate of the International Academy of Humanism.[3][4] He is a two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction.

_______________________________

Yesterday’s L.A. Times had an interview with Wilson by Patt Morrison. Here are some highlights:

~~ On sociobiology (the study of social organization as an aspect of evolution): the whole “kin selection” theory, which said organisms sacrifice themselves to preserve their own genetic legacy, has been rewritten by Wilson and others. Now, they say that “it’s not just relatives but groups with other common goals (besides genetics) that inspire self-sacrifice, an insight that provides an evolutionary basis for all kinds of human collaboration.”

~~The U.S. is “still a frontier country,” according to Wilson. Unlike much of the rest of the world, Americans are often hostile toward science. As frontier-dwellers, “They have no guidelines except one — faith in the literal acceptance of the holy Bible… and that’s what fundamentalism is.”

~~Expanding the “kin selection”paradigm (with the “multiple-level” or group selection concept) upset many people’s apple carts.

~~Wilson likes Schopenhauer’s idea: “every new idea is greeted first by ridicule, then outrage, then “That’s just another way of saying what I knew all along.”

~~”I’s not cool to want to go out and watch birds or collect snakes the way it used to be. That’s a big problem. It should be a primal part of growing up… The important thing about learning is the kinesthetic sense of it. If you learn by doing it, handling it, making it, you know it. That’s what we haven’t been doing. That’s what natural history does.”

__________________________

People in Western societies are subject to The Cult Of the Individual. I didn’t make this up; I read about it. It means that we venerate and glorify individuals as though they accomplished everything by themselves with no one’s help. That’s ridiculous. Everyone has many, many helpers from the day we are born (and even before, during Mom’s pregnancy). The ego is comforted and enlarged by this Cult.

The illusion of control is fostered by The Cult Of the Individual. We think we have control of our environments and our lives because we live in houses, and when not indoors in our houses and offices and the stores we frequent, we are in our cars. In each of these places, we, as individuals, attempt to exert the most control we can. Usually, the more money and social power we  have, the more control we can have.

The illusion of control (and safety and security) is thus maintained. But it’s an illusion. Like the “guru” whose ashram I visited a few weeks ago here in Ojai, the illusion of power over the forces that move our lives (like death) only exists within certain carefully designated areas. Once that so-called guru steps outside his house, he’s in another reality where he is not only not seen as a guru, but where other paradigms and truths hold sway.

Individuality as a socially- and personally-desirable goal has benefited me immensely. I can live the way I want, say and think what I want, and not be forced to conform to many social norms, beliefs and mores. Until very recently, I have lived with a modicum of fear because I am “different” and because I am often seen as a harmless, but weird social outsider. This is changing with my awareness that fear makes me MORE vulnerable (to others’ rules, punishments and opinions) and fear makes my life much less free.

Pema Chodron writes that freedom is acknowledging that life is never totally okay. We try to ground ourselves and feel safe and in control, but there is no control over the real forces of life. People like to say “it’s all good,” but it’s NOT all good: life is full of problems and, of course, we die.

I am finally starting to watch for animals more that constantly hiding from people when I’m camping. This is a big shift for me. Catherine Reid writes about how people shut themselves up in their houses and never see or hear all the wildlife right outside their doors. And these animals and birds — Nature — is one gigantic, imposing, uncontrollable thing we humans know very little about and have very little contact with. BECAUSE we shut ourselves up indoors, away from nature, we think we have control over our lives. Nope. It ain’t like that.

____________________________

I am free and independent. I have enough money to live on. And I am very active (walking, going to the gym, traveling). My generation, Baby Boomers, are changing the definition of “old age.” In Coyote, Reid points out that Darwin was wrong: mutations can take place very quickly in a species, even from one generation to the next.

Mutations like Asperger Syndrome, which has definite benefits for our human species, happen fast. “Species don’t stand still. You can’t ‘preserve’ a species,” writes Rosemary Grant (in Reid). We have become so civilized in America; I love visiting countries which are not nearly as civilized just to see and experience the differences. Do we really know anymore what it’s like to live in a less civilized way? We know even less what it’s like to live outdoors and be a real part of nature. We have shut ourselves up in artificial environments; we have constructed our lives against and away from nature. This is (like) a mutation; it must have effects that are actual genetic mutations.

My anxiety,  my fear about living outdoors (in a tent or on the ground; and not in a designated campground) here in oh-so-civilized Ojai, California, centers around my fear of punishment for being different. Possible punishments include a ticket from the police or forest rangers, anger and some kind of reporting procedure taken against me by landowners and “concerned citizens,” or an actual physical attack by men who hate anyone who a.) evades social strictures better or more than they can, and b.)  is living in a wild (close-to-nature) way that they deem criminal, lawless, and lazy. These people feel they have the moral (and often legal) right to take action against people who live among them, but who don’t conform to what they think is acceptable.

_______________________________

I have been scattering my pee around my camp. This alerts animals to my presence. Living outdoors, one is constantly aware of the need to communicate with other species. The extent of coyotes’ ability to communicate with each other is obvious to those people who study the animals, but we still don’t know exactly what they are saying to each other. What does a howl mean? A yip? It’s like this with all the animals: they talk to each other, but we can’t understand them. We don’t listen; we are shut up in our houses and cars and other indoor places.

People in hot climates are becoming unable to survive without air-conditioning. We are forming an indoor, away-from-nature world that is an anomaly, an illusion, an ego-based imitation of actual life.

In Of Wolves and Men Barry Lopez paraphrases Henry Beston “about animals not being ‘brethren’ or ‘underlings,’ but ‘other nations, caught with ourselves in the web of life’ ” (from Catherine Reid’s Coyote). Yet our lives are intentionally lived well-separated from these other nations and from ANY concept of community — even with other humans, in order to better glorify ourselves as individuals.

______________________________________

The brains of people with Asperger Syndrome retain more of the ancient, animal brain (see below). In the current reality of people shutting themselves away from nature, I see the Aspie brain as a positive, beneficial mutation.

 

the anterior cingulate gyrus.

(This is) very important for Asperger’s Syndrome, and nobody’s even heard of it! So here’s the basics.

The cingulate gyrus is a banana-shaped section of brain, located in the centre of the brain. It surrounds the corpus collosum, which is the band that links the left and right sides of the brain. It’s part of the ancient brain, the unevolved, primitive, basic brain that we inherited from our animal ancestors.

The front part  is called the anterior cingulate gyrus. The back part is called the posterior cingulate gyrus. No surprise there.

 

Why is the anterior cingulate gyrus important in Asperger’s?

There are brain experts out there who believe this is the part of the brain responsible for Asperger’s syndrome. All or most of the issues associated with ASD come from issues with the cingulate gyrus, both front and back.

But the anterior part is responsible for fight or flight. When it’s running too high, the result is anxiety problems. Anxiety can take many forms — obsessions, inflexibility, emotional hypersensitivity, fearfulness, worrying. And these are key ingredients in Asperger’s syndrome.

Which is why said brain experts mentioned above believe that in Aspies, the anterior cingulate gyrus is overactive.

 

Anxiety is very useful in nature. Especially for prey animals. In the controlled, individual-centered, artificial environment most of us live in today, anxiety is considered dysfunctional and undesirable. Of course, unnecessary, useless anxiety (and fear) are not good, but a measure of anxiety is not only natural but good — a positive thing — for those people who (like animals) spend their time outdoors in nature.

__________________________________

Catherine Reid and her partner get a kitten. Reid writes, “That’s when I know she’s too wild to be an indoor cat, too willful to be docile or contained.” That’s how I am. That’s how many of us are, but we have to wait for the right moment, the right situation to allow ourselves to be free and not indoor cats. If we go for it too soon, our society will punish us.

Reid writes about a long canoe trip she took. For weeks she and a friend passed all kinds of wildlife.

…it’s the lights of house after house visible through the trees, and here I am, passing, as do the deer and coyote, foxes and bobcats, unheard and unseen by the nearby residents… I’m struck again by how often our backs are turned to these scenes… We saw only a few old men as we passed, fishing near broken piers or resting under bridges. Everyone else was invisible and contained.

I don’t want to be contained; I don’t want nature to be invisible to me; nor do I want to be invisible to the animals, birds, etc. I want to be out there in it.