At Serious Coffee, a cafe in Cook Village, an upscale little village in Victoria, the capital city of British Columbia, on Vancouver Island. It’s one of the few places open today because it’s Victoria Day; a parade is going on downtown right now. Laura, my kind and sweet host, is there, but I begged off.
This whole city is genteel in the extreme. I do not pretend to understand Canadians, but the people near the US border are very “civilized,” shall we say. Perhaps a better word is calm. Or “English” (Canada is, afterall, part of the British “Empire” [what is it called now?]). Or reserved. Low-key. Peaceful. Very polite.
As it happens, my prejudices (which are unfortunately much more common than I care to admit [and which I write about more, below]) include one against stiff, exceedingly “civilized” Caucasians (or any breed of the same). So, I have never been really relaxed around sedentary, middle class types like these. Ah, well. My loss. But I am enjoying them, particularly now that I’ve met Phil (to whom I could relate quite well)–more later on him.
Laura, by the way, is from Wisconsin; years ago, she married (and later divorced) a Canadian friend so she could get dual citizenship. Laura is 72 and very attractive with her long, wild, freely-flowing, white hair. She proudly says young men are attracted to her; they want to be with her, sexually and as a friend. When she asks these glorious, often (according to Laura) annoying, young men if they know how old she is, “They don’t care,” she says. Laura’s a Grand Gal with a peaceful, airy apartment here in Cook Village.
Very nice people these Canadians. Patient. Whites. Few blacks here. Few folks from the First Nations (Native Americans, as we in the US call these people) here in sedate, refined Victoria (or I haven’t seen many). I approached a small bunch of First Nations young people as soon as I stepped off the bus two days ago, and I seemed to have surprised (they tittered). I asked a guy in the group sitting on the grass in Centennial Square to text Winnie for me (she was my first Couchsurfing host here in Victoria). They directed me to the only woman in the group (why?). Do Caucasians and First Nations people not mix freely here in the capital?
I love the rugged look of most of the people in Canada . I think I can generalize about that. It’s gorgeous in the men especially, which I have also noticed in Maine. In some ways, I fit in better among Canadian women (than Americans and others) because I am rather rugged myself, and I am usually very casually dressed (as if for permanent camping!). The strong, independent, feisty type of women seems to be respected up here. I am just guessing at this point, but I bet people in Canada are quite familiar with camping and the outdoors; most Americans, I think, are not. Not sure.
Yesterday, Laura Fellman* and I went over to Phil Hoem’s house. (*I met Laura a few months ago when I was camping up in Horn Canyon and she was attending a Krishnamurti Foundation meeting or perhaps just having a week at the guest house. She invited me to visit her up here.) Phil is an Aspie man, age 62, and lived in Amsterdam for his first five years. His wife, Astrud, has MS and is in a nursing home. Phil is building an addition to his home, hoping Astrud will be able to return and that he will have adequate facilities to take care of her.
Phil is the first Aspie man I have ever met who is very attractive to me, both as a friend and sexually. This is interesting because I have been wondering if I could ever fall for an Aspie. He’s very Aspie and is apparently active in Aspie things (?). I sent him some GRASP stuff since he has never heard of GRASP. He and Laura also work in a Restorative Justice thing up here which brings prisoners and their victims together for possible reconciliation. And Laura works with prisoners in some other capacity, too. Very good work.
It was just super-divine to spend time with Phil. My true self emerges with a vengeance. I became so comfortable with myself and with Phil–in all of our Aspie-ness–that I could only hope Laura didn’t feel too left out or bopped over the head with our talk about NTs (Neuro-typicals). She was a good sport and mostly an observer.
Phil and I hit it off. He’s a dominant Aries. He’s full of original ideas, is very smart, and he’s also funny (a rare and amazing quality). We are going to Movie Monday tonight, hoping to see Beasts of the Southern Wild. I can’t even express how much better I feel after being with another Aspie, especially one who was so friendly to me.
Right now, I’m in a cafe in Cook Village with all these NTs who expect certain social behavior from me (which is not forthcoming, and, if it were forthcoming, would be forced and exceedingly uncomfortable). When this expected behavior does not appear, the NTs have certain judgements they automatically make about me. It’s all very disconcerting unless I just accept and love myself as I am, unless I don’t give a rat’s ass what anyone thinks of me (it’s not my business), and unless I have been with an Aspie like Phil recently. Phil told me that Rainbow, who will be at the Aspergers Meetup at ABC Restaurant on Thursday, is just herself and that she really doesn’t care what anyone thinks of her. Excellent!
A lot of why I bother to relate to people who don’t understand me (or want to) is in order to explain Aspergers (or being an Aspie). Why bother? People who want to know about it can go online and google Aspergers.
We drank beer and smoked pot! Few Aspies will do this! Laura had a tiny bit of beer and no pot. Awww!
Phil touched on bullying yesterday during our little BBQ at his house. He is a big guy, but I guess he, too, experienced bullying as a kid. He said people notice that there’s “something different” about an Aspie-in-their-midst, and that’s when bullying starts. I put in that, because we Aspies loathe confrontation, we shrink from the bully. We don’t get mad at the bully and punch him/her out, for example. Now, Phil says that nowadays, he just walks away or gives the bully some smart and probably incomprehensible (to the antagonist) reply. “Ripost” is the word I think Phil used.
|n.||1.||In fencing, a return thrust after a parry.|
|2.||A quick and sharp retort; a repartee.|
A new concept: “Aspies in the Arctic.” I’m heading due north to Inuvik on the Arctic Circle and then to Alaska (and maybe Parts North there). I love this kind of wild, big, open country filled with trees and wild animals.
I have already noticed how much more “active” and dominant (in numbers and activity) the birds are up here. Once one gets to a place like this, where huge wilderness areas are nearby, wildlife takes on a whole different tone and meaning. More visible, more active, less afraid of/aware of/affected by humans, the birds and animals up here are much more of a Presence. In a big way, now that I think of it, I couldn’t live anywhere else (than a place LIKE this [“this” being Canada]). In places where wildlife is a curiosity, an unknown, a mystery and feared, and where huge expanses of wilderness don’t exist, Nature is never (one’s) Home; it’s just someplace that you visit now and then.
I asked my Algerian Facebook friend Djamel about visiting Algeria when I go to Europe and Africa this coming winter. Is it safe for Americans, I said. He said “Why does it make a difference?” I don’t know what the hell he meant by that. (Was he being defensive?) Then, he said that Algerians like foreigners, and that he will be my tour guide if he’s in Algeria when I visit.
My prejudices (besides stiff, tight-assed people) include:
1.) Anyone with a German accent or any similar accent (eg. Dutch, Swiss, Austrian; not Russian). This often extends, irrationally (all prejudices are irrational), to German people (and others with that Germanic-like accent). This prejudice originated with WW II. We all got to hate the Germans after that. Poor Dad. He was cursed!
2.) Rich people. The upper class , even many middle class people, and certainly the upper-middle class (in the US at least and probably everywhere). Dad definitely influenced me here, and in the 1960s many of us (in the US at least) turned against people with wealth.
3.) Men. And not most men. I love men. It’s true. But it’s these old fuckers (usually men born before 1945 and some born a little bit afterward) who still think of women as inferior. We feminists in the US have been fighting misogynists for decades. It’s hard to give up this prejudice of mine because it’s so fucking righteous! And it’s a prejudice that is a RESPONSE to a prejudice. Can that be wrong? No, but it’s a personal handicap. I’d rather judge a man once I get to know him as an individual.
4.) (What else? Oh, I know there’s more.)
I am not proud of my prejudices; I am ashamed of them. I don’t try to justify them; I am too wise for that now. Prejudice cuts me off from people and experiences I would probably enjoy. It’s ridiculous and something I am working on ridding myself of these extraordinarily dumb attitudes. They are beneath me. I am better than that, and I don’t want to be a prejudiced person.