What Did You Say?


“Silence Is Easy” – Starsailor

Everybody says that they’re looking for a shelter,
got a lot to give but I don’t know how to help her,
I should just let it go till they learn how to grow,
and how to liberate.

Everybody says that she’s looking for a shelter,
got a lot to give but I don’t know how I felt her,
they should just let it go till these cities learn to grow,
and how to liberate.

Silence is easy, it just becomes me,
you don’t even know me, all lie about me.

Everybody says that I’m looking for a home now,
looking for a boy or I’m looking for a girl now,
I can still let it go, I can still learn to grow,
into a child again.

Silence is easy, it just becomes me,
you don’t even know me, why lie about me.

*BREAK*

Silence is easy, it just becomes me,
you don’t even know me, why do you hate me.

Silence is easy, it just becomes me,
You don’t even know me, you all lie about me
Silence is easy, it just becomes me,
You don’t even know me, you all lie about me
. . .

…….

Thursday evening, I was in the library at my school, doing some [ongoing] research on one of my several topics that I have to know everything (or nearly so, as it currently seems) about by the end of the semester. There’s a children’s library in the basement of the TWU library, and for the most part, I hang out there; mostly because it’s quiet, and the fact that ADHD doesn’t really mix well in places that have various distractions every way you turn. The children’s library is brightly adorned, but then again, so is my bedspread, so I can handle that. Not a lot of people go down there very regularly; mostly they come in droves as flocks of elementary ed students trying to get a last minute assignment done. As a result, I pretty well know all of the related librarian staff that works down there; which mostly consists of student workers, and one admittedly wacky, but lovable, dedicated, hardworking librarian. All of the student workers, at least to my knowledge, tend to like her, which is no surprise when you meet the woman. Her name is Ellen and she’s my secret weapon. If ever I can’t find something, that means that it must be either not there or really hard to find, because one of my gifts is an almost supernatural ability to find things that can’t be found. When these rare moments do occur however, I go to Ellen, present her with the issue, and somehow, by the grace of god, she comes up with it. I don’t know how she does it. She definitely has the aspie trait of perseveration, and actually it’s possible that she might actually be on the spectrum, but that’s not been proven yet. She tends to get stuck on some ideas here and there, and her social skills don’t always jive with other people’s very well. I don’t mind, but there are a few who do. In addition, she has cerebral palsy. She was also a french horn player back in the day, which makes sense, because her left arm is her good one, and french horn is a left-handed instrument. Yet another reason why I’m nearly ambidextrous.

I digress though. This story isn’t about Ellen. It merely took place in her domain: the children’s library. I take naps down there; sometimes long naps lasting two or three hours when I can get away with it. I curl up into a ball and stuff myself in an armchair, which is very satisfying sensory/stimulation-wise, because I feel safe like that. Some of the student workers think that this is funny, but they also pay me a good amount of respect, because time and time again, I have saved them from the ire of certain patrons, by stepping into those potentially hazardous conversations, and demonstrating my extensive knowledge of either of the shelving system there in that library, or else given a demonstration of my likewise extensive knowledge of the library catalog system and all of its accompanying nooks and crannies. It’s becoming part of my reputation to be able to help random strangers with stuff that stumps most people; to the point that I often find myself having to explain that no, I do not work here, and I am not a library science major.

One of the student workers that I had interacted with some, but maybe not the extent of the others, since this girl is fairly new here at the library, was working Thursday night. And against their [student workers] regulations, two of her friends were visiting her. I don’t really care about that part. The children’s section, as I’ve already explained, is periodically very slow moving; perfect for sleeping or studying in, but utterly dull for working in, unless you like to read . . .

I’m one of those random people who, as a result of not ever knowing how to correctly insert myself into a conversation, just go about making random chit-chat with random people about random topics that either I see them involved with, or something I notice about them or else something that affects all of us–like say the weather or the cafeteria. These three girls happened to be black. I happen to be white. I personally don’t think that those two facts matter much–like at all. In my mind, we’re all people who all have problems that are generally comparable–so what’s the big deal? In fact, I think the more diversity there is, the better off we are all. For one thing, diversity keeps us safe by not allowing one single-minded majority take control. Technically, since I’m white, I’m part of the majority, but I’m also an aspie, and that puts me in the minority; a fact whose specific label may be found to be overlooked, but whose nature is never forgotten.

In fact, I am a female, white aspie, if you really want to get the details. But I’m not white, like go out and get tanned every week kind of white. I’m more of the vampire quality of white. And small children always make friends with me, regardless of their color and mine. Apparently they don’t know that I’m different from them. Realistically, I’m not that much different from children, at least in comparison with their level of innocence, openness and intrigue in the world itself. After all, my theory is that the more friends you make, the less enemies you have. So I’m always trying to make new friends. Some people respond well to this . . . others . . . not so much.

I was talking to these girls, trying to anyways, when I started in about how I thought it was strange that a public school of our size didn’t have more diversity. I mean, the school is 10 or 11 thousand strong, which doesn’t seem like all that big, maybe, but then again, my undergrad was just around 1000, or so, so that’s a pretty big difference for me.

The school has what seems like a slew of international students, but they must be major specific, but according to the stats website I found, Texas Woman’s University population has 0% non-resident aliens (making me wonder when the study was done), and only 4% Asian, 1% American Indian/Alaskan Native, 10% Hispanic, 15% African-American and a whopping 68% white non-Hispanic. It also notes that the school is 95% female, but I remember hearing recent stats on that, and how it’s actually only 89% female now. Right, only.

Compare this to someplace like Harvard University; only 6% of their school is African-American. On the other hand, 20% of Temple University is African-American. I told them about my undergrad as well. My undergrad is about 11 or 12% African-American. My undergrad is situated in a severely isolated spot in the mountains of North Carolina. That’s pretty good considering. And what’s more is that UNC-A (Univ. of North Carolina – Asheville), which was just down the street and had, in addition to being a public university, only 4%. Holy crud.

Whatever. Diversity isn’t just all in the skin color.

But since these three girls were black, I thought I might include that in my statement.

Addressing the issue of not enough diversity, I also said more specifically that I thought there weren’t enough black people at our school. Personally, if anyone ever said to me, I think we need more aspies at this school, or I think we need more people at this school similar to you, I wouldn’t take offense.

However, apparently they thought what I said was simultaneously the worst and the stupidest thing anyone has ever said in the history of mankind. I don’t know.

Upon not getting a very positive response, I started to realize that perhaps my presence was not, in fact, welcome. So I went and sat back down at my computer and went back to researching my topics (one of which is goths and their music, as they relate to music therapy).

A moment later, I hear wild raucous laughter coming from where they are sitting. It sounded sort of like they were laughing at me, but I chastised myself for being paranoid; after all, I’m a masters student, and they are undergrads, and this is college, and surely we are smart enough/open-minded enough to get past our differences. I know I am–mostly because I don’t notice our differences to begin with, but that’s another issue for another day.

However, shortly thereafter, that’s when they launch into a new topic.

“God, I hate special people,” one girl starts up with.

“Oh, I know!” Another girl responds. “They’re so gross and weird. I can’t believe we [indicating themselves as normal people] have to deal with special people!!!”

“My mother works with them. God, I don’t know how she does it. I wouldn’t want to. They’re always touching her too. And they can’t talk right either. I was there once–”

“EW!” The other two respond, squealing loudly.

“Yeah, I know.” *rolls her eyes* “And anyway, some crazy old special woman was trying to say something to her, and my mother waited for her to say the whole dumb sentence; even though it took her nearly five minutes to get it all out!”

“They’re just so weird. I wish they would just stick them in a special somewhere so we wouldn’t have to ever see them!”

“Oh, do you all remember seeing the special school kids heading off to their special school during high school?”

“Um, there was this special section of the school for some deaf people at my school.”

“I remember the special school at my school too. They had to have special teachers and everything. One boy even tried to talk to me once! My boyfriend told him he’d beat him into a wall if he ever looked at me with his special eyes, let alone talk to me!”

“Ooo, do you remember that there were also normal looking people in those special classrooms? I always wondered what was wrong with them. I’m glad we don’t have to see them anymore!”

“I know this one girl who has a special child.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah, but it’s okay, because she keeps him really clean and doesn’t even let him drool or anything special like that.”

“Hey do you remember ________? His mother died and now his three siblings have decide who has to take him. You remember? He became special, because of those vitamins that the government gave to pregnant girls. I’d hate to be one of his siblings. Then again, whoever takes him gets to be rich, because the government is still paying them! So it wouldn’t be all bad.”

And so it went.

They kept up this conversation for a good 20, 25 minutes, before the two friends finally got up to go eat dinner. I had tried not to listen, but they were only sitting 10 feet or so away from me. I sat for another 10 minutes or so after they left, trying to figure out why my stomach hurt and why it was suddenly so hot in there.

And that’s when I figured out that I was pissed off.

Sometimes it takes a while for my emotions and my brain to connect. Sometimes they don’t connect at all and I just feel like I’m going crazy until I finally fall asleep, or I just start laughing and crying hysterically simultaneously. It almost always takes me a little while to get angry, which has been annoying in the past, because it was always a while after something infuriating had happened that I would have the urge to actually do something about it, after it was usually too late.

I took a few breaths to steady myself and then just went upstairs to the circulation desk. I figured I had two choices:

  1. Either I could kill her (not a good idea, right? As my mother always says, “Homicide goes on your permanent record”)
  2. Or I could report her.

The library, like the school, has a strict non-discriminatory policy. I decided to put it to the test.

I went up to the circulation desk and asked to the supervisor. Her name is Brandy. She’s scary.

All I say to her is that I think the student workers need to be given a lesson in etiquette about what’s okay to discuss on the job, and what’s not okay. That’s it. That’s all I said.

Brandy is nonplussed. She asks for details. I acquiesce.

She goes for her supervisor–Amy.

Amy is scarier than Brandy.

Amy comes back, legal pad in hand, and asks me to come to the back, behind the desk and puts me down at a table, where she asks me to write down everything that happened in as fine a detail as I can.

I do. It takes about 30 minutes, because my handwriting is more or less kind of special, like most aspies, and I’m trying to be thorough and readable. I get done, turn it in and go back downstairs. Shortly thereafter, the student worker responsible is suddenly switched out with another student and taken off somewhere. A while later, Amy comes back downstairs and asks to sit down beside me and talk to me. She asks me if I said anything about black people when I was talking to them. In my written report, I merely said that we were discussing the differences between diversity in North Carolina and Texas. That’s true. I didn’t know how much detail she wanted there, so I left it at that in the report.

Apparently the offending girl said that she was provoked. I don’t understand why my statement was so awful. Since then I’ve run it past some other of my friends, some of whom were black, and they didn’t have a problem with it; in fact, most agreed with me.

Either way, because of that, she apparently got a warning or something and sent home for the night, but I didn’t ask for the details. All I know is that she’s still working there and any time she sees me, she shoots me death glares that would crumple up the hearts of sociopaths.

While talking with Amy, I told her exactly why I took umbrage at her comments. I told her that I was one of those “special” people she was talking about, and in addition, many of my friends could be considered, by their classifications, “special.”

All I can say is at least I didn’t kill her. And I actually stood up for myself for once. That’s a step in the right direction. In addition, from the way Amy was talking, if this ever happens again, she’s gonna be in some seriously deep shit. That and the fact that she had friends who were socializing with her, which isn’t, apparently, allowed.

I included Ellen in the story because the whole conversation that the girls had about “special” people took place in her domain. The next time I see Ellen, I’m telling her. I don’t want her thinking that people whom she thinks are her friends are actually not anything near that.

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~ by lastcrazyhorn on February 3, 2008.

7 Responses to “What Did You Say?”

  1. Hmmm. I find that neurotypical people very often mistake talking about diversity in a frank and open manner for prejudice. Particularly, when differences are discussed, there seems to be an overwhelming assumption that to even state the existence of a difference (physical, neurological, whatever) between groups of people is to believe that one group is superior and another inferior. I think it’s the “scientific detachment” with which autistic people find it easy to talk about difference, which autistic people tend to see as value-neutral but neurotypical people often take as dehumanising or objectifying. In some cases i even wonder if neurotypical people find the whole idea of categorising people (which, of course, to many autistic people is incredibly useful in trying to understand the world around us) to be somehow intrinsically offensive. I’ve seen it with gender identity and sexuality as well as with race.

    (I think both Amanda Baggs and Jane Meyerding have probably written about this phenomenon, but i can’t remember in which exact articles…)

    Also, i think that there’s a kind of “divide and rule” phenomenon with minorities being prejudiced against other minorities – if you’re in one category of people considered “Other” and routinely looked down on and/or discriminated against, i think there’s a strong urge to “prove yourself” to be “just as good as” the majority, and therefore to strongly disassociate yourself from other minority groups, especially those who are seen in the mainstream as by definition “less than” (and that is the defining factor of their minority-ness).

    Two of my closest friends have CP. I have observed that, in general, people with CP and high IQs seem to have some sort-of Aspie-like traits (including the memory/knowledge stuff and the “outside the box” thinking with regard to social norms), but without the AS deficits in non-verbal communication. (Was that an example of the kind of statement about a group of people that many NT people would find offensive?) One of the aforementioned friends has a theory that it might be to do with people with CP’s brains having to adapt to certain bits of “automatic” learning being damaged or missing, and compensating with conscious learning (sort of like the AS approach to memorising people’s appearance, facial expressions, etc) – thus, people with both CP and AS do some things consciously that neurotypical people do automatically/unconsciously. I guess that possibly encourages “outside the box” thinking too, by having to approach everyday things completely “from scratch” rather than having an automatic, instinctive way to do it…

    I would have assumed that an institution calling itself “Women’s University” would be exclusively</I. for women, ie 100% female…

  2. You gotta say it right though . . . not “Women’s,” but “Woman’s.” They get testy if you say it wrong, lol. I’ll have to pass that info along to Ellen. She’s been exploring the AS venue ever since I got dxed, but if she does have it, she only has it partially or something; sounding a lot like your two friends.

    I don’t get the whole concept of differences in the same sense that NTs apparently see them either, because there are only two categories I really divide people up into (with a few sub-cats): nice and mean, which is all that really matters ultimately, I think. This could also be defined as honest vs. dishonest.

  3. Yeah. CP can cause problems with eye contact as well, although for reasons completely different for those in AS, but that’s one of the “most obvious” signs of AS, so i can imagine it leading to misdiagnosis.

    Of course, this in no way precludes someone from having both CP and AS. There are at least 2 people on Wrong Planet who have both, IIRC. One’s (probably) genetic, the other’s caused by physical trauma at birth, so they don’t exclude each other – she very easily could have both…

  4. Oh yeah, and “Woman’s University” sounds to me like it’s a university just for one woman… 😉

    So are male students allowed as well, but just don’t tend to go there because of the “Woman’s” in the name, or are they only allowed in some subjects, or what? Does it have feminist/lesbian/separatist origins?

  5. Oh, it’s totally fully co-ed. I’ve actually studied the very phenomena which you asked about.

    I figure that there are 3 types of guys who come to school at TWU:

    1. They came here because of their girlfriends.
    2. They are gay and feel more comfortable surrounded by a lot of girls.
    3. They are straight and think the idea of being surrounded by girls all day long sounds really awesome.

    So far I’ve been able to classify every guy I’ve met into one of these three cats, so I figure I’m right. 🙂

    And the singular version is like saying that this is a person’s university, with the individual in mind.

  6. You were absolutely right in reporting the incident. You know what you have to do now, right? You have to mess with this girl every chance you get. 😉 I’d be making her look up really bizarre stuff for me, like, “I need you to locate a book on the history of the eggshell”, or possibly better, “I need a book on disability intolerance”…stuff like that.

    Aside- I’m pretty interested on hearing about your findings with goth music and its affects!

  7. Hi! First post I’ve read all the way through! hehe. And you say your attention span is short! (you did say it somewhere, didn’t you?)
    I’d be raging mad too, but I guess I’d be too chicken to say anything, great that you did it.

    This is chickthumbs from literati, I hope you haven’t forgotten… >.> *cough where’s my email? cough*

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