I was reminded of this when watching a video that someone sent me. It was Jordan Peterson giving a lecture to a class. He said something that caught my attention.
“The thing about depressed people is that they are depressed about everything.”
This is close, but not true.
What makes depression so difficult is that it’s actually about ABSOLUTELY NOHTING. And it’s not the same as being “bummed out” because something happened, or somebody said something. It’s different from being sad.
Depressed people are not “depressed about everything.” If they were, then they’d be saying that they were depressed about their home, their lives, their jobs, etc. That’s just not how any of this works. But I do see how the likes of Peterson could get it wrong.
Depression is that 800-pound invisible gorilla who sits on your chest and tells you that you’re not going to do anything today. Sometimes I can actually negotiate with this gorilla and do things, but I won’t have a good attitude. Not having a good attitude runs against the expectations of the “normal” people out there.
And sometimes, I might not even know the gorilla is there. I sent an email to someone yesterday who is helping me with some work-related things, and apparently my depression was so visible in the email that he felt compelled to call me and mildly chew me out about my depression, as if I can control it.
He suggested that my depression functions as self-sabotage. Congrats on understanding one of the prices. I don’t set out to sabotage myself. That’s just what ends up happening. I know it happens. Again, there is nothing that I can do about it.
If I could control either of these things, then I’d simply control them and not be spending time with professionals to help with the various issues that are a result of these afflictions. I most definitely wouldn’t be talking with the person who called me after the email if I had control of these things.
These things are the very reason why I am one of his clients. If these things were controllable, then he’d not have a job.
Yes, I know that it’s bad for business, job prospects, or anything else. Anyone who has any semblance of logic in their minds knows this.
I’m Autistic, not retarded, and I use that word in a clinical sense, not in a way that is judgmental or otherwise mocking. Mental retardation is a serious challenge, and yet another situation where they can’t “just stop” it.
I KNOW that it gets in the way. The problem is there isn’t much that I can do about it.
THE CHAIN OF COMMAND The depression exists and may or may not be independent of Autism. The Autism exacerbates the depression. This, in turn, exacerbates the Autism.
They knock each other about.
Add in a bad situation, such as being unemployed or going through a break-up, and both of these conditions are made worse.
One experience. One major change. One negative conversation. It doesn’t take much to kick off this nuclear reaction.
MASKING Masking is what I think my caller wants me to do. Unfortunately, it’s not something that I can do.
Besides being HIGHLY unhealthy, masking also takes a great deal of energy to achieve.
Consider the practice of “small talk,” which happens in the morning at work. A person walks in, sees me, and says, “Hey, DrumWild! How are you today?”
I first have to remember that they are not really asking me how I am doing. They don’t really want to know how I’m doing. It’s more of a PING, like when we used to use dial-up modems to get on the internet. It’s all that noise the modem makes before the connection that lasted about one minute.
It’s an utter waste of time, and I don’t know why people feel the need to do it.
So after I have evaluated this, under the pressure of a person standing there waiting for me to respond, I summon up the lie of, “I’m fine. How are you?” I ask this, knowing that they will not answer the question honestly.
Neurotypicals tend to play this game very well.
A person with Autism and Major Depressive Disorder, on the other hand, does not handle this well at all. Some studies suggest that the mental and emotional energy that it takes for people like me to handle small talk like that, is the same amount of energy that a college student expends when they are studying for a final exam.
And consider, this is JUST THE BEGINNING of the day. Imagine what a workday feels like when you’ve spent all of your energy on idiotic bullshit before you even get started with work.
People are talking, distracting, stopping by to interrupt. Supervisors interrupt to ask how the project is going. Each interruption means that I will need to spend 20-30 minutes properly getting back into the work. And this effort will inevitably be interrupted by someone else.
The world simply isn’t set up for people like me, and the neurotypicals [NTs] don’t care one bit. They view the Autistic worker as immature, broken, stupid, rebellious, and more.
BEING MISUNDERSTOOD One of the unfortunate hallmarks of being Autistic is that you will be misunderstood. This is guaranteed, and it may very well ruin your life.
As an example, I was working in an office, when a female co-worker came up to me and asked me to help her with her project. I told her, very clearly, “I am under my own deadline for this project right now. I should be done in about a half hour. I can check with you then, and help if you still need it.”
She stomped off in a huff, went straight to our manager’s office, and closed the door hard. A few minutes later, someone from HR came down and went into the office.
Then our manager came out and walked over. He said those dreaded words.
“We need to have a chat. Got a minute?”
I choked back tears, and the boss said, “Why are you doing that? You really need to get a handle on yourself.”
We go in and my co-worker starts in on me. “I asked him for help, and he refused to help me because I’m a lesbian.”
I was then tasked with defending myself against a stupid and baseless charge.
“Nobody’s sexuality ever came up. I told her clearly that I was under my own deadline and that I could check back with her in a half hour and help out then. If I had a problem with her being a lesbian, then I wouldn’t have purchased a $50 ticket to her kitty-cat opera, and she was using work email to solicit this. I don’t give money to people I don’t like.”
I have no doubt that this put me on a list for later downsizing.
I went on.
“My deadline WAS important, but now it has passed and I am in trouble. Apparently, her project wasn’t THAT important and she didn’t need THAT much help, if she had the time to come in here, lie to you, and start this bullshit conversation. So she has just destroyed TWO deadlines instead of just hers. I suspect she wanted to ruin mine because she believed that I ruined hers. This whole situation is garbage.”
Yep. I’m on a list.
THE AUTISTIC MELTDOWN I’ve had those, sometimes at work. It might have the appearance of a temper tantrum, although it’s far from that. I could try to describe it, but someone was brave enough to have some footage of one of their own Autistic meltdowns, which may be helpful.
If this happens at work, your job will be lost.
If it happens in public, you could get injured, or maybe killed by police. This is why I never call the police, ever, for anything. They’d think that I was on some weird drugs, and kill me.
Adding Major Depressive Disorder to Autism makes it even worse.
IN THE END None of this is whining, or seeking out sympathy. Rather, it is an attempt to help others understand.
If my Autism or Depression bother you, please understand that they also bother me, and I wish that I could get rid of both of them.
There are many, many times where I wish that I were normal. Looking for work, actual working, social events, or even just going out in public for “fun” are things that I wish I could do.
I write here because I love to write. This could change, based on some of the viewers I’ve encountered.
Not only do I check out everyone who likes or comments, but I also check out anyone who subscribes. And, yes, I do remove some subscribers.
I’ll get the positives out of the way, since they are in the minority. These are people I may know or those whom I’ve gotten to know, either here or elsewhere. Some read but don’t subscribe or interact, which is fine. They call me and we talk about some of the things that I have written.
I appreciate their support.
I’ve written with a few new subscribers, and that has gone surprisingly well. I appreciate the responses, if any of you are reading now. Thanks.
But then there’s the trouble. Real or perceived, it’s not something that I just let slide.
No photo, and no link: I’ve had some followers like this. They seem a bit sketchy. Since they’re also not interactive, I will remove them from the follow list.
Get rich quick, or get more blog viewers: I have no use for these people, so I will remove them.
Photo, but dead link: Maybe they let their business go, and are sticking around for other reasons. That’s fine, although I keep an eye on users like this.
Animal image, cartoon, or logo: Yes, I have a logo, so it’s not always a bad thing. Sometimes it’s something to hide behind. If they seem like real people, then that’s fine. For what it’s worth, I’m not trying to sell you my drumming services. I prefer my logo since I’m an older guy who doesn’t photograph well, so I can relate. I might investigate myself later, just to be sure. /s
Religious icons: So long as you don’t try to convert me, we’re good.
The challenge that I’m facing in all of this is finding real people, instead of corporations or opportunists who want to sell me something. But there are a few who cause me some special concern.
The other day, I got a “like” from a woman. Whenever I get a like, WordPress sends me an email and encourages me to “check out” what they’re doing. I do this with every email that I get.
When I see an image and a name, I automatically develop an expectation of what I am going to see. This particular woman looked like a regular person; nothing outstanding. She wasn’t provocative or attempting to be sexy. I will typically remove those accounts immediately.
So I click on it, and it goes to some guy’s page. He’s selling some things and has a few entries that might not be about sales, at least not directly.
I was confused, so I commented on it that I was confused and asked who it was. He said that she was just a dear friend, and that he was glad that I lead me to his site, and he hoped that I liked his content.
Well, the answer to that remark is NO, I did not like or enjoy your content at all. In fact, I gave it NO consideration at all. WHY? Because I felt deceived. And it would be no different it if were a picture of a man, and a woman used it to get someone to visit.
So I wrote it off as the piece of shit that it is, and carried on.
A day later, I got a like from another regular, everyday woman. So I went to visit the page, and it was the SAME GUY! He apparently has a collection of photos of regular women, and he uses their images and attaches female names to them, in a cover-up to get traffic to his site.
He has an actual logo, that is akin to a Chris Raygun logo. It seems that he has spent a good amount of money on his logo [as I did for mine], so I have no idea why he is not using his expensive logo or other branding.
My guess is that he has no confidence in himself, but more than likely he’s just a shifty liar who is full of shit.
What this guy does not understand is that starting out a relationship with a LIE is a really bad idea. I’m NOT going to stick around, read anything you wrote, or “enjoy” any of it, when we start out with YOU actively choosing to misrepresent yourself.
The worst, for me, was an Autistic blog that started out re-blogging my stuff all the time. I had a run-in with them and removed them from my follow list. They decided to re-follow a handful of times. I’d keep removing them, and they’d keep rejoining.
That’s aggressive, childish, and very unnecessary.
Here’s a hint: If you are NOT wanted somewhere, then it would be a good idea for you to stay away and go elsewhere.
And if you want to re-blog, then I need to understand your goals and directives, and then you need to pay me. I don’t write so that big organizations can take my writings and monetize it for themselves. That makes you a parasite, and I have no need for that. Nobody does. Make your own content and stop stealing from others.
My goals with this page are relatively simple.
I write here because I enjoy it. And when I no longer enjoy it, that will end.
I am up for positive interactions on the blog with REAL people, not frauds.
No fighting or interacting with trolls.
I like meeting legitimate, REAL people who are capable of real discussion.
I have no use for anyone who is selling things.
I have no use for liars, scammers, and those who misrepresent.
I don’t play games or fuck around when it comes to my personal online safety. Real people who have thoughts, ideas, or something to say are always welcome.
The frauds, liars, sharks, scammers, salesmen, and the anonymous can go somewhere else. I have no time or patience for you.
My last stint on Facebook lasted only a few months, if that long.
During that time, I did encounter a few people who were cool. I got their emails and phone numbers. They were the exception, not the rule. All the same, I think it will ultimately be for nothing, and I’ll be forgotten once again, as I should be.
The rest of it was so bad that I have my own philosophy on the Facebook experience that will ensure that I never forget and try to go back again.
There was the woman who almost married me, but ended up marrying someone else. There was the ex-girlfriend who cheated on me with her paperboy and later almost married her half-brother. There was another ex-girlfriend who sounded like she wanted to get together, which is the last thing I want to hear.
There were the guys who believed themselves to be better than me, and who took every opportunity possible to assert this. Their insecurity is bigger than ever.
There were former friends who became hate-filled, terrified Trump voters, who have no room for Humanity in their hearts. There were also those former friends who wanted to be connected, for some reason, yet did not want to spend the time to actually get caught up.
And more often than not, too many of these Midwestern people became hyper-religious and enjoyed asserting their superiority as they shit all over the non-believer.
MY PHILOSOPHY ON FACEBOOK Facebook is a flaming garbage dump. When you go on Facebook, your past is there, waiting for you, ready to remind you of things that are better left forgotten.
NEVER dig through the garbage. It’s on the curb. Everyone can see you. It gets messy. It stinks. And once you retrieve what you thought you wanted, you later realize that it looks and smells like shit.
This applies to a variety of relationships and situations, including romantic endeavors, friendships, professional connections, and more.
Today, I’m talking about online community, and what to do when there is rejection. In this case, it’s YouTube.
I don’t use any social networking, although some might say that YouTube is such. I see YouTube as being primarily a video website, where community is secondary, or possibly even tertiary. All the same, there is a community and participating is something I enjoy doing.
THE RULES I have a set of rules that I have used for years, when commenting on videos.
Do not attack others.
No foul language.
Try to keep it short [VERY difficult for me].
That’s my basic set of rules, and I do my best to stick to them. Being brief is a challenge sometimes.
WHAT HAPPENED The other day, I left a comment on a video on a channel to which I subscribe. I had been subscribed to them for over five years, so this was kind of a big deal to me, because I had been an active member of the community.
I was even considering joining their Patreon. More about that later.
During those five years, I would comment, get responses, and even reply to other comments, no problem.
The problem, and this is my educated guess, is that the channel got so big that they hired moderators to delete any comments that might be disruptive to the community. They saw mine, misunderstood it, and deleted it.
Being an Autistic man, one might assume that I’d be used to being misunderstood by now. But no, nobody ever really gets used to that. However, I am accepting it as how things are for me, and it makes it all the more valuable to me when someone actually DOES get me.
WHY THIS MATTERS Regardless of how it got deleted, who deleted it, or even whatever weak reason they may have, the bottom line is that it was still deleted.
What this does is removes me from participating in the community conversation regarding the topic of the video. I don’t watch things willy-nilly, and don’t go subscribing to just anyone.
WHAT I DID The comment I left was on a video that was maybe 15 minutes old, which means that people are going to be showing up and commenting more, when compared to an older video.
So after about ten minutes, I went back to see if I had gotten any responses. I was hoping to engage a few fellow subscribers. Given how things are, I will take any social interaction that I can get.
They way I have my YouTube settings, when I go back to a video like this, my comment will appear at the top. This time, I did not see it, so I went to my history and clicked on Comments. It wasn’t in the list.
What I did was first go back to the video in question. I didn’t make a stink or kick up any dust about it.
I just clicked “Unsubscribe” and quietly moved on.
A NEW ATTITUDE ABOUT LIFE If someone doesn’t like me, then I won’t be sad about it or try to force them to like me. I won’t get depressed or otherwise sad about it. I won’t get angry about it. I won’t ruminate on the situation and wonder what went wrong.
I used to do things like that, quite frequently. It made life very depressing, stressful, and messy.
If a potential employer doesn’t like me, then I move on.
If a musician doesn’t like me, then I move on.
If a woman doesn’t adore me, then I move on.
If a friend is being abusive, then I move on.
If someone doesn’t respond to an email, then I move on.
THE RECURRING THEME I trust that everyone reading this is intelligent enough to spot the recurring theme. Moving on is how you regain your power, dignity, and self-respect. Letting go of the experience leaves your hands open for receiving new experiencse, which may or may not work out. If they work out, then great.
If they do not work out, then… well, you know.
A WORD ABOUT PATREON AND PREMIUM MEMBERSHIPS This is something that I typically will not do, because of a past experience.
I had become a Premium member for a guy who does an internet radio show. I had listened to him since 1988 on regular radio. So by 2016, I was a long-standing regular who had participated in the community over the decades.
I had just paid $120 for a one year Premium package, when the host announced a birthday party. They were selling tickets, and I decided that going to this birthday party would be cool. I had gone to his first-ever listener party, and was the first person to get an autographed photo, so I was more than a little invested in this.
But I messed up.
When I had signed up for the Premium service, I joined using my PERSONAL email address and paid with a credit card. However, when I bought a ticket for the birthday party, I used my PayPal, which is attached to my BUSINESS email address. Attendance of the birthday party was $25.
This set off red flags for them, and they wrote to tell me that I’d not be let into the party.
To summarize, I had been a fan for 28 years. In the short span of just THREE calendar days, I spend $120 on a Premium membership, $25 on a birthday party ticket, and then was unceremoniously kicked out of the entire thing, while being called a “troll.”
IN THE END I invest in no one but myself. For my entire life, I’ve been the kind of person to do for others all the time, all while believing that doing for myself would be Narcissism. The truth is that it would be Narcissism only if I were doing for myself AT THE EXPENSE OF OTHERS.
I don’t do things at the expense of others, so it’s fine to love myself and invest in myself.
Whether it’s a radio show or a YouTube channel, I never give money. The second I do, it seems that I am shown the end of the road and I am left feeling ripped off.
Participating in a community of any kind is a rare opportunity for me, and I show respect for that opportunity by following the rules as closely as possible, and being the kind of person who will be thoughtful and engaging.
When the leadership of that community shows disrespect by unceremoniously deleting a comment that does not break TOS and is not offensive, or they are inflexible with certain rules when an honest mistake is made [like the birthday party], then I move on.
The world is full of so many people, situations, and opportunities, that it makes absolutely NO sense to stick around and continue to either engage or support anyone or any group that doesn’t want you around.
Quietly leaving and not looking back is how I regain my self-respect after being disrespected by a community leader.
INTRODUCTION This story goes all the way back to sixth grade. Actually, it may go back even further, although I can fill that in with one sentence.
When I was in first grade, I wanted to be a drummer, but my family could not afford to buy drums, so my only option was to play my dad’s trumpet.
I was still playing trumpet in sixth grade, but I wanted something more. Something better suited for me. Drums! That’s what I really wanted, more than anything.
My school had constructed a special building specifically for band. I spent most of 5th grade playing on the cement foundation of the building. But by sixth grade, the building was up and operational.
While other kids in my class played during recess, I spent my time standing at one of the walls of the band building. There was this window, and I would watch as the band rehearsed.
A riser near the window was where the drum set was located. I so wished to hear the drums better, but I would try to be happy listening through the window.
One day, the drummer opened the window. He was a 7th grader named Brook. His feet were at my eye level, so I’d watch his feet move, and occasionally look upward to watch his hands. He appeared so happy playing the drums.
That’s what I wanted to do. I wanted to be a drummer. Hell, I wanted to be Brook, because to me he was a really cool person.
FRIENDSHIP STARTS The next year was 7th grade for me. What made 7th grade special was that Brook got held back. This gave us the opportunity to become friends. So I would start talking with him about drumming.
Next thing you know, he would invite me to his house for lunch, which was directly across the street from school. He would put a bunch of french fries in the french fry maker, which was fancy to me.
During the lunch hour, we would listen to records featuring The Cavalier Cadets, The Phantom Regiment, and other bad-ass drum corps. We might tool around with skateboards a little bit.
We would also play that magical drum set that he had. It was so cool. He’d show me things on the drums, and be very encouraging.
Then we’d go back to school and have band class. I had told the teacher at the beginning of the year that I wanted to transition to drums. In junior high and high school, the school provided the gear, so all I had to do was show up and do it.
A FRIEND’S HELP One day, we ran over to Brook’s house. He had something exciting that he wanted to show me. As soon as we set foot into the front door, I saw it in the living room.
A brand new Ludwig Vistalite drum set. It was blue, and see-through!!! He had all new cymbals. He sat down and played a few things as I stood in the front of the kit to hear it really good.
It sounded amazing.
Then he asked if I wanted to play it. I did, and I sat down to play it. The whole thing felt amazing. It’s like that first bite of chocolate cake, which is so good that you can never replicate it.
I asked him if I could buy his old drum set and maybe get a deal. He said that he would ask his mom.
The next day, he told me that his mom had “already sold” the drum set. I was heart-broken. At least Christmas was coming up, and I had told my mom that I really wanted a drum set, so I had that going for me.
When Christmas came, I woke up to a big surprise. There it was: Brook’s old drum set!!! Mom had bought it, and took it to a music store to get new heads and a little splash cymbal installed in the bass drum.
There were no crash cymbals, no hi-hat, and not even a bass drum pedal. I would kick it with my foot. But I didn’t care. I would save up and add to it as I could.
Brook would help me out in other ways.
When he got tired of his skateboard, I got it. When he got tired of his bike and got a new one, I got his old bike.
I even got his old leather hat, when he got tired of it. I wore that hat throughout junior high school, into high school, and even in college. I wore that hat until someone stole it in 1985.
FRIENDS DRIFT APART When we got to 9th grade, Brook quit band. I had all but forgotten that he was a year older than me, so I never thought that he’d quit band because he got his drivers license.
Of course, Brook had a VERY privileged life, where he got whatever he wanted. So his parents got him a really cool car. No, I did not inherit his car once he got tired of it, but that would be a logical guess.
Once he got his license and car, and had quit band, we really didn’t find ways to keep connected.
As I look back, it seems that Brook was eternally doing things, getting tired of them, and moving on. So I could only guess that he had left me, along with all of the things I had in my life, which he had previously abandoned as well.
So we really lost touch by the end of 9th grade, in the summer of 1979.
SOME BRIEF CONTACT In the early 90s, I was thinking of him, so I called his old house. His parents were still there and they gave me his phone number.
I called him. He was working for an auto manufacturer and wasn’t all that happy with life. In fact, he sounded as if life had beaten him down. I guess life turned out differently because he was no longer living at home and being given everything he ever wanted.
It was the only time that I would talk to him before Facebook.
MEETING ON FACEBOOK, 40 YEARS LATER When I returned to Facebook in April 2019, I decided to look for people I had known. I had these huge dreams where people would be excited to see me, and we’d talk about the old days for a while, before getting caught up with the latest.
So I found Brook on Facebook. I looked through a few of his pictures, and it seemed that he was doing well.
Finding Brook inspired me at a time when I was dealing with my own depression and other personal difficulties. At the time, I was working on practicing gratitude, so I had an idea.
It wasn’t a great idea, as it turns out.
The idea was that I would write something on Facebook about gratitude, and thank someone who made a difference in my life. And I decided to start with Brook.
I wrote a piece that thanked him for his inspiration and support. It was short, and wasn’t anything embarrassing.
Eventually, he commented on it.
“You achieved all that you achieved by yourself.”
What? No, I did not achieve it all by myself. Many people along the way showed me things, taught me, helped me, or guided me on the path during the early years to help me.
I replied to him with something like that. He responded, “You did it all yourself.”
We had this back-and-forth a few more times. I told him that I was attempting gratitude and being grateful to those who inspired and helped me. Again, he said that I did it all by myself.
FINDING THE HARD TRUTH, AND RUGGED INDIVIDUALISM I decided to investigate and figure out why he was being so cold and mean about this. So I went to his profile.
He had become a Trump supporter. Before that, he was a hard-core Republican who bought into Rugged Individualism.
Rugged Individualism is a mythology that has been sold in America for the past 100 years by Republicans. The idea is that if you work hard enough, then Meritocracy will ensure that you earn what you are worth.
Even worse, the idea is that no matter how poor one might be, you can still lift yourself up by your bootstraps and rise above.
This idea is flawed because it ignores the place of privilege where we start, or don’t start. In our case, Brook had a FANTASTIC wealth of opportunities as a young person. Every time he wanted to try something, he got that opportunity.
By comparison, had I given up on drums, I would have been the one responsible for investing in anything else that I did. That’s how it went when I wanted to play guitar, and I would save up lunch money and work odd jobs to earn enough to get what I needed to pursue my goal.
Brook was spoiled rotten, which is why he had so much opportunity. It’s why I got all of his hand-me-downs.
That’s the thing: I relied HEAVILY on the hand-me-downs of the privileged, and I had access to that, but only if I had the money. Outside of the leather hat, everything I got from Brook cost me a few bucks. Still, it was more than I could afford.
My entire experience with him was enhanced by the privilege that he had. We never hung out at MY house, and there was a good reason for that. He probably felt that I had nothing to offer him.
MY COUNTER-ARGUMENT TO RUGGED INDIVIDUALISM As I write this, I’m thinking about a speech that President Obama gave years ago, which was his “You did not build that” speech. This angered many Republicans, because it drew the curtain back to show the hard truth about Rugged Individualism.
Rugged Individualism is not only about the person doing things, but also about the government staying out of it. The latter is an added financial complexity that is basically Socialism for the government and corporations, and Rugged Individualism for us little people. But for now, we’re going to focus on the former, which is the person doing things.
The point was that NO INDIVIDUAL paved all the roads, built the power grid, the infrastructure, or the pool of educated job candidates. It took EVERYONE. That means that no one person can claim that they built it.
Here’s my argument to strength this point.
Suppose that I decide one day that I want to be a professional couch potato. Just sit on my ass, watching television, surfing the internet, drinking beers, and stuffing my face with whatever I am eating.
Am I doing that alone? A Republican would say yes, that I am doing this alone.
This “couch potato” — a person who does not reflect my values — relies on THOUSANDS of people to do what he is doing.
All of the people who keep power going, the internet going, the roads paved and open, gas for the car, food in the grocery store, beer in cans. The list can go on.
This couch potato relies on thousands, if not TENS OF THOUSANDS of people to do that simple act of what seems to be nothing.
Sure, the individual can make a decision.
But let’s suppose this person goes to work, earns six figures, and is a productive member of society.
Is he doing it all by himself? Again, a Republican would say yes, that they did this alone, by themselves.
But this is not true! Again, he relies on the various infrastructure services, the same gas and food and roads. He also relies on the business, everyone who works at the business, and the customers who pay for the services of the business. And those customers also rely heavily on all of these things, and more.
Both the couch potato and the successful worker rely on the same. Without the infrastructure and the tens of thousands of other people, neither the couch potato nor the successful worker could do what they do.
No man is an island.
GOODBYE, BROOK Scrolling through his public Facebook feed, I could tell that he was consume by the fear and hatred that the Republicans sell to anyone who is buying. He hated everyone and believed himself to be an island who doesn’t need anyone else. What a convenient way to divide people!
He also hated Liberals, Leftists, non-whites, non-Christians, and basically anyone who wasn’t exactly like him.
Did he have anything on his profile representing anything he enjoyed doing?
No. Nothing brings him happiness. Nothing.
He hates everyone, does not want to “meet in the middle” with the “others,” whom he had demonized and dehumanized.
No wonder he didn’t like me! He didn’t like himself or anybody else.
I had no choice but to block him and mourn the loss of my fond memories.
A BIG FACEBOOK PROBLEM This draws attention to a big problem that I have with Facebook. This problem is specific to people like me, Autistic adults who still have a toe dipped into a time when they were young and happy.
Too many people on Facebook got broken by the system. They got crushed and ripped apart by responsibility and challenging times. In the process of it all, they lost what makes them happy.
It didn’t happen to everyone. I can name the people who made it through and still enjoy the things they do in life, because I have their phone numbers and email addresses. Still, the medium is the message, and that medium is not conducive to positive conversations or connections.
The Onion said it best, of course.
When they lose those things that made them happy, they latch on to old people bullshit in desperation, to build a new identity. The Holy Trinity of old people bullshit is, in no particular order: Politics, Religion, and News.
They get sucked in and become miserable, hateful people.
But enough about them? What about ME?
I’ve never been religious, so we’ll dismiss that right away. Politically speaking, I do vote, but then I move on. I will also watch the news, but it doesn’t drive how I live at home, and I DO NOT allow it to inform me on how I must feel about myself or other people.
Religion and polics are all about the practice of “othering” and demonizing, based on nothing more than loose generalizations, false beliefs, and the hatred and fear required to keep people engaged.
I work hard, I pay my bills, I vote, I pay taxes. I have a son who is now a most honorable adult. And I did it without joining any clubs, believing any nonsense, or filling myself with anger and hatred.
Honestly, I was too busy hating myself, but that practice has been halted.
Through all of my “adulting,” as the young adults call it these days, I never lost sight of what makes me happy. Music, drumming, and the people who either practice music or enjoy it.
I UNDERSTAND. IT’S HARD This is what American culture does to people. Get them bogged down, riled up, angry and afraid.
I have no doubt that my Autism is what allows me to keep one foot in my teenaged hopes and the other foot in the mundane and hopeless.
The world has gotten its grips on me at times. I viewed my Autism as a major impediment, because it got in the way of everything I wanted to achieve in my adult life. As a result, thanks to my Autism, I’ve had bigger struggles than the average person when it comes to doing the things that we all do.
It also messed with me because I began to view the world in terms of whether or not something could be monetized. My Autistic “gift,” it seems, cannot really be monetized. At least, I cannot think of or find a way for this to be the case.
That’s the problem: Not everything needs to be monetized in order to have value. That’s toxic American culture at work.
A BRIEF ASIDE This reminds me of a brief aside, during a time when I was looking for work. I was also taking guitar lessons at the time. My mother, who meant well, got angry with me. “Why are you taking guitar lessons, when you should be working?”
There are a few problems with this, with one of them being the idea that you haven’t “earned” the right to do anything that brings you happiness unless you are working.
Another problem came with her not understanding that I needed to do a great deal of work to overcome my self-esteem issues. My Major Depressive Disorder is both caused by and exacerbated by my Autism.
I was looking for work, for several hours per day. She refused to acknowledge that, and instead focused on the 30 minutes per week I spent in my lesson, and the 20-30 minutes per day that I spent practicing my lessons.
“How is that going to help you find a job?”
I gave her the answer, and I’m not sure she appreciated it. The idea was that doing something to keep my mind active and build up my self-esteem would give me greater chances of landing a job.
FAREWELL, FACEBOOK Facebook is where the old, broken people go to be negative, hateful, fearful, and mean.
They’ve forgotten what it is like to be happy. Even worse, they have NO desire to talk about the good old days, when they WERE happy. Maybe it’s too painful for them, and I can try to understand that. This doesn’t mean that I have to participate in any of it.
Even worse, they don’t want to catch up in general. Many don’t want to talk at all.
Should I find a social networking platform that is good for me, chances are good it will be the kind of social network that brings strangers together. The only problem I see in this that most people my age have lost the point, because life is hard and it ground them down.
I can remain hopeful that there are other people out there, like me, who didn’t lose the point and who are up for the new experiences that come with possibilities.
LIFE’S PARADIGM SHIFT This is the problem with life. When we are young, it’s all about possibilities. But when we get old, it shifts and becomes all about actualities.
Being young and focused on future possibilities can often times lead to disappointment. Being older and focused on the future actualities most definitely leads to disappointment and depression.
So they double-down on religion and politics, and become an empty shell of what they once were.
Next thing you know, it’s 2016, Trump became president the way they wanted, and they were STILL ANGRY, AFRAID, AND EMPTY INSIDE.
Literally, the day AFTER he took office, a guy I know who voted for him was still angry about “those god damned Liberals.” This is because the third entity in The Holy Trinity, NEWS, made sure to inform them how to feel. It tells them to be afraid and angry.
Do NOT look at the wealthy and powerful people who have the power to change things. No! Instead, look to that immigrant crossing the border. THEY are the true power.
Bullshit. But people get so riled up that they will believe stupid shit.
To bring this full circle, Brook believed that I achieved everything myself, and that he had no hand in helping me at all. He had no room in his heart for being grateful, or for remembering the good times we once had.
IN THE END: IF YOU ARE READING THIS, BROOK… I highly doubt that Brook will get around to reading this, and NO, I am NOT asking anyone to forward this to him. But if he does, I’m sure it will make him angry. Understand that I DID NOT include his full name in this entry, so I am not outing him to the general public.
Yes, those who went to school with us will probably figure out who you are. Just know that they don’t care, for they’re too busy being full of hate and fear to care about reading something that I wrote. They have a world full of people to fear and hate.
But if you are reading this, Brook, I would like to thank you for that day when you first opened the window to the band room so that I could hear and see better what you were doing on the drums.
Thank you for inviting me to your house for lunch and listening to drum corps records. Thank you for selling me your old drum set, your old bike, and all of the other hand-me-downs that you either gave or sold to me. To you, it was just getting rid of stuff, but to me it meant the world.
I miss those times when we would hang out. A part of me likes to imagine a scenario where we both stayed in our small town, and as adults we get together every few weeks to listen to records, play drums, or just hang out.
Maybe to you I was just an annoying kid. But to me, you were my role model. My dad wasn’t really around, and my brother didn’t relate to me. The only person I had to look up to during those times was you. You were a fun person, and a very talented drummer, but I also viewed you as being highly intelligent. Getting held back in 7th grade confirmed that, because our school and teachers were not the best or brightest. I was almost flunked out of kindergarten, so I can relate.
Understand that you helped me get onto a path that I had wanted to be on since I was 18 months old. It was a path that was borderline impossible for me, since I grew up at the bottom of the middle class.
In spite of Rugged Individualism, it is important to acknowledge that you started at the higher end of the track, while I was way near the bottom. Life wasn’t as easy in some ways as it was for you. When you wanted something, you got it. When I wanted something, I’d have to work really hard to get it, and dream of a day when I might get it. And there were times when I did NOT get it. You didn’t experience this, but I did.
My hope was that I could thank you for everything you did for me when I was young, but you did not appreciate it and refused to hear it. You actively REJECTED my appreciation and thanks, and threw it away. That’s how much fear and hate is in your heart now, and I find that to be very, very sad.
If you do see this, and you get angry with me, then don’t bother writing. I’ll recognize the hatred and fear quickly, and send the message to the trash. But if you see this and genuinely want to patch things up, acknowledge the good times of the past, and catch up with what has been happening lately, then I’m all ears [or eyes, for an email].
I don’t miss the old person I was, because I’m still that person in many ways, even though I work, pay bills, and do all of the same things that you do. But I do miss who you once were, because you were a shining beacon of hope for me; a representation of the possibilities that I could have in the future.
I went for the music career, and it didn’t pan out. I learned a lot about the music business, and don’t blame myself for failure. If anything, I recognize my own success in that I gave it my all, and I have no regrets. “What if” is not in my vocabulary.
I moved to Los Angeles. I played drums. I wrote and recorded albums. I played shows. I taught a few lessons. I met my music/drumming heroes, and some of them even became dear friends of mine.
And you know what? I enjoyed the utter fuck out of it. Every last moment. And I’m STILL drumming, playing guitar and bass, and making music. Music is everything to me, because it builds up my self-esteem, it makes me happy, and it’s my primary social vehicle.
I might not have that without your inspiration and hand-me-downs.
While I totally dislike what you have become, you are still a person to me, and I hope that one day you can find something to be happy about. I hope that you can one day accept my gratitude and feel good that you made a difference in someone’s life. It saddens me that you do not have the capacity to accept this.
But if that day never comes, then please consider this a goodbye, Brook. Thank you for everything, and I wish you all the best.
Typically, I don’t care one bit about what others think about me. The reality of that situation is that it’s none of my business.
However, the internet is a place where large groups of people can think the worst of you, band together, and then attempt to destroy your life.
When I worked at MySpace from mid-2005 to mid-2008, I made a few mistakes. One of those mistakes was letting people know that I worked there. I also had other powers, including resetting passwords, and even deleting profiles. Letting people know about this was yet another mistake.
This laid the groundwork for a horrible situation where people accuse me of the worst possible thing: Harming a child.
Since MySpace is now defunct, I feel that it is safe to tell my story.
DOING THE JOB This was maybe just a few months after I got hired, so I was in a relatively vulnerable state. Who am I kidding? In America, you are ALWAYS in a vulnerable state when you’re an employee. It’s just a little bit worse during the first 90 days.
I worked as a Quality Assurance Engineer, but also took on other things. One of those things included pornography. Specifically, there was lots of under-age “revenge” porn being posted.
Over time, I would be relieved of these duties when the company grew and new departments were added. But the way things were during this time, there were a total of 40 employees trying to handle everything.
THE SITUATION One day, a “friend” forwarded a profile to me. They were very concerned, and rightly so. It was what appeared to be the profile of an 11-year-old girl in a cheerleader outfit.
The friend’s concern was that there were lots of creepy old men publicly commenting on their profile.
She told me that I should delete it. But I had my concerns because this was something that typically would get deleted really quickly. So I took it up with a supervisor, who told me, “Do NOT delete this profile, under any circumstances.”
More about that later.
So I wrote to the friend and told her that I had reported it to the appropriate people, and they would be dealing with the profile and the user.
My friend got irate. “I know that you have the power to delete profiles. The fact that you refuse to delete this profile tells me that you’re one of them. You’re a fucking pedophile.”
Nice sentiment, coming from a “friend.”
I replied to them, “Yes, I know that I do have the power to delete profiles. However, it’s not my job, I’m no longer allowed to do it, and my supervisor told me not to delete profiles anymore. They are investigating this situation.”
This friend wasn’t satisfied with my response, and proceeded to tell everyone they knew. People were beginning to spread the rumor that “a pedo works at MySpace.”
I was getting genuinely concerned, because you don’t want rumors like this spreading about you. I talked to my supervisor about it, and they thanked me for the heads up and told me to not worry about it.
So I spent my day on MySpace, trying to work, while dozens and dozens of people wrote to tell me what a creepy, disgusting pervert I was. All of this, because I refused to delete an account.
WHAT REALLY HAPPENED Remember that my supervisor told me NOT to delete the profile.
This is the part that I could not explain to these “friends” in a way that was satisfactory for them.
The profile of the 11-year-old girl was a “honeypot” account set up by the FBI. The profile was constantly monitored by a shift of people who would make notes of those who were getting in contact with the “girl.”
They had an existing list of convicted pedophiles whose profiles were tagged. Every time they logged in, a series of FBI agents, as well as MySpace employees, would get a text message and phone calls to let them know that confirmed pedos were logged on.
At least half a dozen people, at any given time, were watching every move, every word, and every post of these concerning individuals.
The honeypot profile lead to a great number of convictions over the years.
All of this lead to the frustrating part, that not only could I NOT delete the profile, but I could also NOT tell them the truth about it. Telling them the truth would have gotten them off my back, and it would have stopped them from spreading the rumor that I was a pedo. But it would have also jeopardized the operation, resulting in putting children at risk once again.
WHAT THIS MEANS TO ME NOW The situation taught me a few lessons. One of those lessons is to never, EVER let anyone know where you work or what you do. I was fortunate to have bosses and associates who understood the situation and took the uneducated rantings of these people for what they were.
The other thing I learned is that if anyone can so easily believe something so horrible about you, then they are not your friend in the first place. Most of these people didn’t really know me and didn’t like me.
The heartbreaking part was that a few of them HAD met me, we DID hang out. They had an idea of who I was and what I was all about, and yet they still decided to draw a horrific conclusion about me based on partial information, at a time when I could not fill them in without putting an important FBI operation at risk.
Again, I had told them that I let my supervisor know, that I was no longer allowed to delete profiles, and that upper management knew about it. This should have been enough for them.
It would have been enough for a friend.
I’d hope that someday one of them will read this and feel badly about themselves. I seriously doubt they will, since they wrote me off almost 16 years ago.
This situation also taught me a valuable lesson when it comes to making assumptions. There are many things that I do NOT want to be in life, and being like these “friends” and behaving the way they did is one of those things that I want to avoid.
It wouldn’t be the last time that a bunch of “friends” thought the worst of me, banded together in a network, and set out to destroy my life. It’s why I do not use ANY social networking today. Because people in large groups who can easily band together are typically very stupid and highly destructive.
I have no time or patience for stupid people.
What made this worse was that it happened around the time that I stopped taking my son to the park. My son is half-Mexican, so we look a little different. Every time we went to the park, WITHOUT EXCEPTION, there would inevitably be a man, a woman, or a group of people approaching me to ask me what I was doing with “that poor child.”
The Pedo Panic in America is real, it’s crazy, and it ironically gets in the way of real situations and real investigations.
So once my son no longer wanted to go to the park, I felt a mixed response of sadness and relief. And then, THIS garbage went down.
I would always talk with my son about it when things like this happened, and would explain it to him. This is why he has NO internet presence and will never use social networking.
He went to the office with me many times. He knows how sausage is made.
IN THE END Above all else, this situation taught me to NEVER take action based on superficial knowledge. It something looks a certain way, maybe it IS that way, or maybe it is not.
Can I remove myself from the situation? If so, then I do it. If not, then I might investigate.
But I can tell you this much. If I were using a site like Facebook, and I saw a profile that looked like it belonged to a little kid, and a bunch of old creeps are visibly and publicly being sexual and otherwise creepy, I would safely assume that dozens and dozens of eyes are upon it, 24/7, and then I would move on.
Because if MySpace did it 16 years ago, then I can safely assume that Facebook is doing it now, and doing a way better job of it. They have entire departments built for this sole purpose.
By the end of 1988, I had mostly given up on the pursuit of an industry-focused music project. I did get pulled back into it in 1996 by a Filipina artist who went by Ruby Cassidy and is now known as “Mystica.”
This attempt ended with her ripping me off. Plus, she is a Malignant Narcissist and compulsive liar, so I went through the three phases of a Narcissistic relationship: Love-bombing, Devalue, and Discard. It was ugly.
Over time, I learned that anyone who wants to be a “star” must have an excessively huge ego. Speaking of being a star, I’d like to invite you to pick up my book, The PDF, on Amazon today, for only one dollar. I promise to spend the 28 cents that I get to keep in a very responsible manner.
Back to the topic.
When I stopped trying to cater to a corrupt industry, I found that I began to enjoy music a great deal more. Certainly, there must be a connection between the two.
It’s kind of like how I one day realized that the further away from Los Angeles I would perform, the more the audiences loved the music. Sure, they would buy shirts and CDs. That was enough to cover the gas and hotel, so it wasn’t a big money-making thing.
For the longest time, I struggled with how I should approach music and what I should do with it or about it. Getting away from the idea of trying to get industry recognition and signing a deal was obviously a health move.
There were three specific life events that got me to change my attitude about music.
1 of 3: NOODLE MUFFIN  When I joined Noodle Muffin in 2002, I was thrilled because they had professional packaging of their music, the production was solid, and they would actually get played on the radio. Dr. Demento absolutely loves the band.
During the first band meeting, one of the band leaders told us about an opportunity where we’d fly to Canada, play a few songs on a radio show, and then come back.
Bands travel, so this is no big deal. However, I wasn’t quite clear on my status in the band, so I didn’t yet know how the trip expenses were going to be handled.
So I asked one of the band’s leaders, Dan, about this. He said that every band member would be responsible for their own airline tickets, passports, hotel room, and other expenses. My mind began reeling about the idea of shipping a stripped-down drum kit to Canada and back.
We hadn’t even really discussed pay yet, so I had no idea about any of the business aspects. So I asked him a straight-up question.
“Okay, so best case scenario: We go to Canada and do this radio show. People get interested and 20,000 units get sold. What’s in it for me?”
It was a fair question, but also a reasonable question, given the fact that I didn’t know where I stood.
His response spoke volumes about the situation.
“If that were to happen, then you’d not get paid anything, because we need to recoup all of the expenses that we’ve incurred since we formed the band in 1988.”
I wasn’t a hired gun, because I wasn’t getting paid. At the same time, I was also not a full-on band member because I would not see a cut from any profits. This lead me to an existential inquiry about why I was involved with this band in the first place.
I had a decision to make, so I asked myself realistic questions and attempted to give myself realistic ansers.
Would they actually make any money from this? No, they would not. Not only would this project not make money because of industry corruption, but also because the brothers who own the band were and are more invested in their careers as energy executives.
That was just one of many questions. Once I had my answers, I took my response to the band the next time we got together. I told them that I could not go to Canada because I wasn’t working at the time. That said, I told them that I would be their drummer, and would not require any payment, so long as they do not require me to invest any money myself.
They agreed. This was the best deal for me, because I could just show up, be creative, and participate in that creative process, without being involved in any business aspects of the band. Outside of making a few flyers, and the one time I was paid to make phone calls, this deal stuck.
One might ask why I would make such a horrible business deal. The answer to this would be that it wasn’t a business deal, so much as it was a musical or creative deal.
2 of 3: The Fishing Trip  It was an early morning, as most fishing trips go. The purpose of the trip was to just get away from it all for a weekend.
We had barely gotten the boat onto the water, when we saw this other boat. It was a professional bass fisherman’s boat. The person I was fishing with knew a good deal about it.
The guy was focusing intently on his equipment, fish radar, and other things. But he didn’t seem to be enjoying what he was doing at all. The expression on his face lead me to conclude that he was working.
Without thinking about my words, I said to the guy I was fishing with, “Wow, looks like he took something he truly loved and turned it into a 9-5 grind.”
That’s when it hit me: This is what I was doing with my music. I was going to turn it into something I hated. Not only that, but in the past I had been actively looking forward to it.
3 of 3: A GROOVY JAM MASTER  The thing about the guy I was fishing with was that we were building a recording studio together. We started in late 2010, and by mid-2013 it was ready for full use.
I spent a good deal of time either working on the studio or talking about the studio. I would dream about the music that I could record in the facility.
Of course, this dream came crashing down in late 2013, when the guy who owned the property told me to my face that I never contributed anything. He changed the locks and spread lies about me on Facebook, so that he could hang on to my $5,000 cash investment, as well as the physical work that I put into it, AND all of the gear I had contributed. The total came up to at least $10,000.
But that’s another story.
We’ll go back to 2012, when I was still raving about the studio and telling everyone I knew about it.
I took an extended weekend off from working on the studio to go up to San Francisco to hang out and jam with my friend, Aaron. He and I had worked at MySpace together. I consider him to be an actual genius with a life view and intelligence that far exceeds that of the average human being.
He told me, in so many words, that he didn’t like the recording studio idea, because he didn’t like the idea of recording music!
When we got back to his place from the airport, we went upstairs so that he could show me his jam set-up.
There were a series of 4 or 5 stations. Each station had a mechanical desk that would rise up and down, a touch-screen monitor, and a JamHub. This gave every musician in the jam session full control over their sound, the mix, and their experience.
It enabled every musician to have their own individual experience, as well as maintain the group experience.
We both pick instruments, choose a station, and get settled in. Before too long, we are jamming, as I figure out certain aspects of this new system along the way.
He asked what I thought of the system after we finished our session. Of course, I was blown away by the intricacy and control of the network. After I told him that I was truly impressed, he decided to land another nail in the coffin of the recording studio.
“Did we make some music? Yes! Did we have fun? Most definitely. Did we make some mistakes? Probably, but do they matter? No!”
He went on to pontificate about a near future, where people will not pay for music, but rather exclusively for streaming services, which will not compensate musicians in a way that honest or meaningful. As I write this in 2021, I can only say that he was correct. Then again, I also suspect him of being the Architect for this type of business model. That’s another story.
He also noted that the future of music will be tribal. There will be digital tribes on the internet, as well as analog tribes in one’s own local community. The musician and listeners will have a shared goal of fun and community. Maintaining music as a product for sale is quickly becoming a failed idea.
He concluded, “The future of music has nothing to do with recordings, being good or perfect, and instead are about the moment, the experience, and the exchange of data between the musicians and their audiences.
Basically, get some musicians together, go play somewhere, abandon the idea of putting on a perfect show, and even forget about forcing the concept of songs.
Play, create, enjoy.
MY ATTITUDE ABOUT MUSIC TODAY For the longest time, I’ve loved and enjoyed music writing, recording, and performing, within the context of songs, or even having a collection of songs as an album.
As the landscape of music and art change within the context of the internet, I am finding that songs are becoming an old idea, and that recording is almost rendered meaningless. Today, people are recording at home and doing some interesting things. And many who make music aren’t even musicians.
Or, maybe they are musicians, just not in the traditional sense.
As I write this, I am reminded of a time in the mid-2000s, when my band WHIPLADS played at The Gig in Hollywood, on Melrose. On one particular night, this Emo band opened for us.
The drum set was very small, and partially electronic. The guitar, bass, and keyboard players all sat on the ground. They would mess with their tunings, pedal settings, and more, as they droned on for a full half hour.
Someone who came out to see my band asked, “What the hell is this?” I told them, “It’s a vibe, man; an aura.” At the time, I considered this a throw-away answer because I wanted to get back into what they were doing.
Now that I look back on it, I consider this response to be accurate. It was a vibe. The thing about a vibe, as a musician friend recently said, is that sometimes it works, and sometimes it does not.
I would add that even if it does work, it will probably not work for everyone. I see no difference between this and a band performing their songs. Not everyone will like every song. Not everyone will enjoy the show.
The SINGLE most important thing in all of this is that I enjoy what I am doing, that I feel the energy of having the creative outlet, and the idea that some people will connect with it.
Music is my social vehicle, and connection is essential.
IN THE END None of this is to say that I am attempting to gatekeep anything. This entry isn’t about telling people what to do. It is merely to share my perspective on it all, and write a bit about how I am approaching things in the future.
Bands will still form, write songs, perform songs, and record songs. That’s fine for them. Meanwhile, there will be the jammers, the experimentalists, the tech-savvy programmers, the multimedia artists, pedal doodlers, string frackers, head crackers, outsiders, and more, doing their thing. And the world is better for all of it to exist.
When I would think about my past with music, I would often times lament the fact that, in some cases I don’t have any photographs or recordings. All I have is my memories and some anecdotes. Telling a story is sometimes met by someone who says, “Pics, or it didn’t happen.”
I really have no time for people who are this needy. But what I do have time for is people who want to be creative. As things begin to open up, I can see myself doing something that is live performance and stream-of-consciousness. Maybe solo, maybe a duo, or may as many who want to show up. There are no limits or expectations, beyond being creative and enjoying it.
And if I don’t enjoy it, then I won’t waste another minute.
So if you’re creative and would like to make make some music on-the-fly, do feel free to message me at email@example.com. More and more, I’m feeling that it’s time to do something.
It won’t be perfect. It won’t be a top-notch produced recording. At best, it will be a live jam, possibly with video. It can also be something that is not recorded and just lives in that moment. Who knows. I’m open to just about anything.
The best way I can think to close this entry is with a video of a live performance of a duo known as Beat Debris. I’ve known the guy on guitar [Tom] since forever, and his words got me thinking in a way that inspired this entry. To me, this is very inspiring when it comes to thinking about what I’d like to do next.
It all started with my fascination about what was going on when my uncle’s band, The Sounder, was rehearsing at my grandmother’s house. I would sit behind the drummer and watch while wearing headphones. When the band took a break, I would go outdoors and engage in my own drumming.
I was 18 months old.
But it wasn’t all about positivity. There was a stretch of time, from early grade school until the end of 1980, when I got my drivers license, where I spent a great deal of time isolated.
It was during these times that I would use music as a way of keeping myself engaged with life.
I’d sit and play drums for a while, then switch to guitar, then switch to bass, then switch to keyboard. The first full album where I sat and learned all of the instruments was Permanent Waves by Rush.
Living in the middle of nowhere in the Midwest, getting my license and saving up to buy a car was what gave me social freedom and social choices. No longer was I confined to the small-minded people of my small town; a group of people who dismissed me and demonized me for not being like them.
Now I could venture out. But I would still use music as my main social tool. I would often times meet girls from other schools who were also in band, and build connections that way.
Sometimes my socialization choices were controversial with others in the school. One example was when I dated a woman who was a mascot for one of our major sports rivals.
I did absolutely nothing to keep that a secret, and people would talk and talk. Some would get mad at me.
But the only reason this was happening was because my small town didn’t afford me any dating opportunities at all. It’s the down-side of being a “Heathen” in a highly-religious Midwestern state.
Music continued to morph from being a way to combat loneliness, to a major social tool, as I went into college. I engaged in Marching Band the first year, and joined a pop/rock/punk band the second year.
HOW I APPROACHED MY INSTRUMENTS CHANGED Before I get too far from high school, I should note how my approach to music changed once I got my drivers license and car.
Before this tool of freedom became something within my reach, the majority of my musical aspirations were solo. This included competing every year with ISSMA [Indiana State School Music Association] as a snare drum soloist.
I won many awards during that time, all First Place except for one Second Place, which I value. That was given to me by Dr. Maxine Lefever, because she felt that I needed to keep my ego in check.
She would later ask me to join her group, American Musical Ambassadors, and go tour Europe with her for 28 days. I declined.
Back to the topic.
I was soloing for years, up until the end of 1980, when I got my car. Once I got my car and experienced some freedom and new, previously unavailable social experiences, my attitude about music changed.
I decided that I had spent enough time being alone, and that included soloing. To become a strong solo performer, one must place their focus in specific areas. As a musician who is primarily a drummer, I could have chosen to continue isolating and becoming a masterful drum set soloist.
But I didn’t see much of a future in that. After all, my goal was to become a valuable member to a band. So, instead of working on how to be a strong drum soloist, I began to work on other talents.
These talents included doing other things while drumming. Singing, running samplers and sequencers, and performing and recording with a click track were “value added” skills that I would bring to my musicianship.
This also involved continuing to learn songs, so that I could be on-the-ready when a band needed a player who was ready to go.
My second year of college found me being asked to join a band as a bassist. I agreed, even though I owned no gear. My grandmother had always wanted me to be a bass player, and was so excited to hear that I would be playing bass in a band that she gave me her bass rig.
I met a great number of people as a result of playing bass in that band. Some of those connections remain to this day.
It continued into adulthood, when I moved to Los Angeles. Many of the first people I met were musicians. I had no money or instruments, but would show up and play whatever was available. So if there were drums, a guitar, bass, or keyboards, it didn’t matter. I could jump in and be instantly productive.
During those decades, I met many people. There were some positive connections, as well as some that were horrible or even destructive. You never know what you will get with human beings.
Meeting other musicians at gigs was awesome, as was meeting some of the fascinating women who would come out to catch performances.
In a way, the whole thing felt too good to be true, for a very long time.
That’s not to say there were no struggles, for I would have to spend my daytime hours sweating about the everyday concerns that we all have, including work.
But at night, everything changed.
At one time, I was drumming in three bands at the same time, at least. For a brief period, it was four. On top of that, I would be attending weekly open jam sessions, which were live performances set up at a club called The Crest Sports Bar & Grill in Torrance, CA with “Weird Al” Yankovic drummer Jon “Bermuda” Schwartz.
These were public performances where drummers would sign up and take their turn performing with the band. You never knew what song they would play, or the style they might want to attempt. There was always an element of surprise. I did this as a drummer, but also performed a few times on fretless bass.
I’d even fill in with other bands on occasion, when their drummers would have schedule conflicts.
Through the 2000s, I was very busy with music, and therefore also very social.
This would end up changing for me, slowly over time. My main band, WHIPLADS, broke up around 2007. My stint with Falling Moon ended at the exact same time. Noodle Muffin stopped performing live in 2009.
I would find a few other bands to perform with, including The Andrea Ballard band, Delta 9, Karma McCartney, Casanova Jones, The Aveage Joes, and more.
Of course, bands fall apart or change over time. Andrea’s band fell apart, thanks to her boyfriend guitarist [NOT pictured above] having unchecked mental health issues. I left Karma after the fact that I was 20 years older than everyone else was starting to become a big deal. Delta 9 fell apart because Andrea’s crazy boyfriend was also in that band. I left Casanova Jones after what amounted to religious differences, for the singer believed himself to be god, and I humbly disagreed.
And I left The Average Joes, a cover band gig, after playing a marathon 8-hour gig, only to be paid $12. The parking cost $20.
Before too long, I had only one live performance band in The Wrong Dots, which was headed by child acting star Robbie Rist. That gig came to an end in late 2013, which I was in the middle of being taken for a ride by a “friend” who turned out to be a cancer scammer.
After that incident, I decided to abruptly end all social activities as they relate to music.
REVERTING TO ISOLATION Before the pandemic hit in early 2020, I had gone through a few life changes, including being downsized in 2016 and not being able to find gainful employment for a long time.
My live performance bands had all dried up by the end of 2013, and I’d not found anything new.
Between these two events, I found myself being very isolated. After losing my job in 2016 and my little sister dying in mid-2017, I reverted back to utilizing music in isolation mode. One of the things I did during this time was spend one year taking guitar lessons from legendary guitarist Zoot Horn Rollo, of Captain Beefheart Fame.
It was one thing when I was a kid and played in isolation out of necessity. It was another when I turned social with music. But it was a completely weird beast when I took these guitar lessons, because I was playing guitar merely for the sake of playing guitar.
I felt no love for music at all. None.
Your teacher can have a big influence on you. Zoot has never had the most positive outlook on life, or music. It seemed to me that he hated music, and I was beginning to feel that way as well.
I was learning how to play guitar better, but was also learning to hate music. This was very dangerous territory for me.
So I started taking local lessons with a classical player named Rogerio Peixoto. Rogerio’s approach was more positive and uplifting. He introduced music into the lessons.
Rogerio, to his credit, tried to get me involved with social situations that were music-oriented. I attended a few, but most of the time I would decline because I had become afraid of people.
The situation had become dire.
A CHANGE OF SCENERY After my favorite cat, LP passed away on President’s Day 2019, I felt need to make a change. In spite of my agoraphobia and severe depression, I plotted a move for us to get out of Los Angeles, and into a town in the middle of nowhere, Oregon.
By the end of May 2019, we were situated, and once again I was left to deal with my agoraphobia and severe depression.
By the time I was finally ready to get out and be social, the pandemic hit. I had just found a cover band and was talking with them about setting up an audition when it all hit hard.
I was also feeling ready to get out and take on the world again, when word came that I would have to revert back to how I was living for the past four years. The fifth year of isolation was rough.
IN THE END To recap, music started as a way for me to survive isolation when I was young. It later turned into my primary vehicle for social interaction and activity, only to revert back to a coping mechanism for isolation for the past 8 years.
My hope is that this will change in the near future.
The best scenario I can see involves joining a local jam group or cover band and doing this for fun and social interaction. Without music, I have no idea how to engage humans in a social sense.
Sometimes I miss those days of drumming and playing other instruments in Hollywood. The people I met were interesting, fascinating, and varied. There were always new people, which I found to be interesting.
But this is no different from drumming in high school marching band, or my college band, or any bands that I had in the past. All of it is a case of “been there, done that,” and it is time to focus on acquiring new bands, new experiences, and new people.
I still think of the past from time to time. It’s okay to look back on it all. Just don’t stare.
Yes, I have this blog, as well as my website, a YouTube channel, and email. That’s pretty much it. Almost nothing happens with any of it these days.
The one person who typically comments has known me since 1998 and emails regularly. And most of my followers on here are nothing more than bots who want me to monetize my blog, blah blah blah. In that regard, this site stinks.
What this means, in terms of the internet, is that I am relatively voiceless.
I feel like it’s a great place to be.
Not too long ago, I was talking with my therapist about how I am misunderstood by people on Facebook, when I was using that service. She said, “Being on Facebook, you can post corrections. You can educate people. You can influence them. What a golden opportunity!”
I had to explain to her how almost nobody was reading what I was posting. At the very least, maybe they read it but didn’t acknowledge it, so I will never know. I then reminded her that, because I am misunderstood, I have no pull or influence.
Her enthusiasm changed from the above quote to, “Well, maybe it’s best that you stay away from there.”
And that’s precisely what I am doing. Just hanging out here, writing out my thoughts, shooting them into the sea of blog posts like a note in a bottle, thinking that maybe one day someone might find it.
At this rate, I know where I’m headed. Should I still be alive in the next two years, I might very well have no internet presence at all. And if you have no internet presence, then people start to suspect or even believe that you’re dead.
I give a pass to those people from my distant past who have kept in touch on a somewhat regular basis. As for the rest, they can stay in the past.
The scene is that of a man knocking on the door of an enlightened Zen Master. He had heard of this man and his abilities from the villagers he had encountered.
He knocks again.
The Zen Master answers the door.
“My apologies for disturbing you. I have heard great things about your teachings, and I am in need of help.”
The Zen Master pauses and looks him over. “I understand your concerns. My concern is that we barely have enough rice for all of the students who are currently studying here. Check back in a few years and maybe the situation will have improved.” He closes the door.
The frustrated man, who had traveled a long way, felt that he was too close to getting what he wanted, so he knocks again.
“Master, I apologize for not being clear and up-front. Life has started to get the better of me, and from what I have been told, you are my only hope.”
The Zen Master looks at the man, turns to the room to look at his students, and then turns back and looks down through his glasses at the man.
The man interjects, “I will bring you all of the rice that you require. I need to study under your guidance.”
Realizing that this man had just painted himself into a corner, and knowing that the man cannot back out now, the Zen Master says, “Fine. You must bring me 1,000 pounds of rice, or the financial equivalent before you will be allowed to enter this door. Once you have gained entry, you will stay for a minimum of one year. During this time, you will be in charge of scrubbing the floors and will be tasked with helping my students with the duties essential to our Temple.”
The man opens a brief case full of cash. The Zen Master studies the contents carefully, and tells the man, “You may enter our sacred Temple. We will sit for rice and tea, before you start cleaning the floors.”
Within an hour, the man has handed over everything, he has consumed his rice and tea, and he is on his knees scrubbing the floor.
Once his duties were completed, the man asked the Zen Master if he could submit his Question of Life. The Zen Master informed him that the evening was for rest, and that they would be talking in the morning after breakfast and group exercises.
The next morning, the man is anxiously awaiting his moment with the Zen Master. He almost cannot contain himself as he sees his moment coming.
“Master, I desire to be happy. I desire to be free.”
The Zen Master pauses, strikes a thoughtful pose, and slowly replies to the man, “Ah, I now see your dilemma. A most serious one, at that. What you need to do is desire less.”
The man thanked him, and thought to himself, “Okay. Desire less. I’ve got this. I can do it. Just desire less.”
The man continues his daily practice and work. At the end of the week, the Zen Master asks him how his efforts are going. The man replies, “I have struggled so hard to desire less, but I don’t feel like it’s really working at all.”
The Zen Master pondered the dilemma. “Hmmmm. Your desire to desire less is very strong. In fact, you desire to desire less way too much. You must have less of a desire to desire less.”
That story is roughly based on a story that I heard in an Alan Watts talk long ago.
My first impression was that the guy who wanted the guidance painted himself into a corner and became a sucker. Don’t ever do that. It’s a fair enough of an evaluation of the story, although it hangs on the beginning and goes no further.
There is a depth to the story, as well as an ultimate Truth.
THE DEPTH OF WANTING I entered into a relationship in late 2019 with a woman whom I had dated back in 1982. We were teenagers and spent a few months during the summer going out, hanging out, and having a great time.
It all came to a rather abrupt end when her father tried to kill me with a wrench. As it turns out, she had never told him that we were dating, and he found out the hard way when I showed up.
We re-connected on Facebook after 37 years of no contact at all, and it seemed that there were some sparks. However, the sparks were part of an illusion, and I must take partial responsibility for allowing that illusion to exist.
Over time, some strong feelings began to develop. There were warning signs all along, and I failed to heed any and all of them.
The reason why it happened, and the cause of my failure, was that I really, truly wanted it to happen. I was so invested in wanting it to happen that I viewed the entire situation through rose-colored lenses.
And when you view a situation through rose-colored lenses, every red flag looks like nothing more than a regular flag.
When we ended up together, it felt good enough. I had effectively fooled myself into believing that the red flags had faded away because we were together and we were both better for it. That’s a foolish thought.
What we had felt so real. I didn’t want it to ever end. Acknowledging these problems would kill off what we had.
So we both pretended and carried on as if there were no problems at all.
Over time, these red flags caught up with us. They started to beat us up. They were trying to kill us.
We are both imperfect people. Everyone is imperfect. That’s not the problem. The real problem was that she had a great number of issues, and she had done absolutely nothing in the way of self-work to resolve those issues. This meant that the issues still existed, in spite of her efforts to tell the world that everyone she had ever known had abused her, and that she was merely a victim looking for true love.
In other words, she did not take responsibility for her personal issues that would impact any attempts at a relationship.
What made this worse is that I have taken responsibility for my personal issues, and I have been actively working on coping and dealing with those issues for a very long time.
When one person strives to be healthy, and the other does nothing but point fingers and declare OTHERS to be unhealthy, there’s a problem.
The truth of her story was eye-opening. Without getting into too much detail, she and her younger brother suffered abuse from their parents, mainly because she and her younger brother were “accidents” and the family couldn’t afford to care for them.
An older sister was watching her when she was three years old. There is a high possibility that her older sister threw the ball into the street in front of an oncoming car, on purpose.
She claimed that her dad and at least one of her brothers did bad things to her regularly.
Most telling was that all five of her marriages were abusive. She was married five times to four different men. The one who supposedly abused her the most viciously was the one she divorced and then married a second time.
But one of the biggest red flags that I totally ignored was when we were talking on the phone. We were talking about something that was so unimportant that I cannot remember the topic. All I can recall was that it was a case of us having a VERY minor disagreement.
While I cannot remember the details, the disagreement was about as small as her telling me that she loved pizza with everything on it, and I said that I can do without the onions.
Oh no! A disagreement! An imperfection!
I could hear the recoil in her panicked voice as she screamed, “Please don’t hit me!!!”
Even if I were the type of man who would hit someone, there were a few problems here. One problem is that I’d not hit anyone [except in self-defense] over such a minor disagreement.
The other problem was that we were on the phone, 2,000 miles apart. I have long arms, but not that long.
Some say that this is where I should have drawn the line. But, as one friend wisely told me, the big red flag was back in 1982 when her father tried to kill me with a wrench, because that’s a sign of the type of upbringing she had.
I am not one to write off people for a past that they cannot control. However, I have an actual duty to myself to generate great distance between myself and people who have done nothing to work on their issues. Responsibility is essential.
THE LESSON AND THE ULTIMATE TRUTH We’ve gone through the story of the man and the Zen Master, and we just went through a personal anecdote that provided additional depth.
The lesson is that, when we really want something, we may engage in hyper-focus on that something, and this leaves us blinded to the warnings and dangers.
Just as the man in the Zen Master story desires to desire less, I want to want less.
So maybe, just don’t?
It’s a position that I am trying out.
With that relationship over, I neither want a new relationship, nor want to remain alone. By not wanting either situation, I am free to actually be in either. I can be me alone, or be me with someone else. It doesn’t matter.
Without wanting, I am free to be.
As for the “Ultimate Truth” of the story, the man is seeking guidance from the Zen Master. In this regard, he is searching outward to find an answer.
Whether it’s a friend, a lover, a therapist, or even a Zen Master, what they all have in common is that they are external sources of reflection. They don’t live inside of you.
Even a lover who lives with you for an extended period of time may not have a full picture of your inside story. Most definitely, your own parents have absolutely NO idea of your inner workings.
That’s all you. Only YOU have access to your own depths. If you do not access your own depths out of fear, then it is unreasonable to expect anyone else to have any inkling of what is going on.
But if you are honest with yourself and refuse to fear the darkness, the depth, the ugliness, and the act of learning who you truly are, then you will be on your way to healing, at the very least.
No matter how broken you may appear based on your life’s story, being in touch with your own darkness and taking responsibility for your own issues can help you to feel a sense of being whole.
This is what opens the door for all kinds of relationships and connections.
The outward “source” that is sought by most people is merely a reflecting pool. This reflecting pool will give the viewer the wrong impression, especially if that person is ignorant to their own issues, rejects self-exploration, and puts the blame solely upon others.
In our failed relationship, she pointed her finger at everyone else and took no responsibility for her role in any of her situations. Meanwhile, I am willing to accept my role completely, learning from it, and hoping to become a better person as a result of this work.
IN THE END But the Ultimate Truth is that Zen Masters are full of shit. Alan Watts admitted it to the faces of his followers. They laughed and continued on.
That is not to say that he wasn’t helping them, for he was a very reliable sounding board. His job is one that was typically filled by people called “friends.” Today, we also have therapists, who are actually trained in the art of being a reflective sounding board, so that you can figure out yourself.