All is Mere – Introduction and Table of Contents

Introduction

All is Mere is a fictional account of a world where most of an American generation developed Autism Spectrum Disorders.  The reasons and ramifications are slowly explained throughout in the story, so don’t worry if it seems a bit confusing at first since it should make sense by the end (if it doesn’t, please leave a comment).  The story is told from the perspective of a high school sophomore who, like most people he knows in his age group, has some form of high-functioning ASD. There are forty entries in his classroom journal, and this blog, covering the entire school year.

Disclaimers: No person with Asperger’s or any other type of Autism Spectrum Disorder is the same, so none of the characters in this story are or are intended to be perfect representations of the conditions.  Since this is hosted on a free blog, the story may be changed whenever the author feels like it should be (this introduction, for example, has been changed approximately fifty times and will probably changed another hundred).  The distribution of people along the autism spectrum in the story is made up and does not reflect the distribution in the real world; the story has a 1 to 4 ratio between lower functioning and higher functioning/Aspergers while the real world is much more towards the more severe end.

Please leave any comments on the story in this post.  More information can be found on the “About” page.

Dedicated to those who had to listen to my rants, as a high school sophomore or otherwise.  I am so sorry.

Table of Contents

Entry #1 – September 8, 2015

Entry #2 – September 14, 2015

Entry #3 – September 21, 2015

Entry #4 – September 28, 2015

Entry #5 – October 5, 2015

Entry #6 – October 12, 2015

Entry #7 – October 19, 2015

Entry #8 – October 26, 2015

Entry #9 – November 2, 2015

Entry #10 – November 9, 2015

Entry #11 – November 16, 2015

Entry #12 – November 23, 2015

Entry #13 – November 30, 2015

Entry #14 – December 7, 2015

Entry #15 – December 14, 2015

Entry #16 – December 21, 2015

Entry #17 – January 4, 2016

Entry #18 – January 11, 2016

Entry #19 – January 18, 2016

Entry #20 – January 25, 2016

Entry #21 – February 1, 2016

Entry #22 – February 8, 2016

Entry #23 – February 15, 2016

Entry #24 – February 22, 2016

Entry #25 – February 29, 2016

Entry #26 – March 7, 2016

Entry #27 – March 14, 2016

Entry #28 – March 28, 2016

Entry #29 – April 4, 2016

Entry #30 – April 11, 2016

Entry #31 – April 18, 2016

Entry #32 – April 25, 2016

Entry #33 – May 2, 2016

Entry #34 – May 9, 2016

Entry #35 – May 16, 2016

Entry #36 – May 23, 2016

Entry #37 – May 31, 2016

Entry #38 – June 6, 2016

Entry #39 – June 13, 2016

Entry #40 – June 16, 2016

Entry #40 – June 16, 2016

As you explained in class, this entry should be a reflection on what we learned from doing all the previous entries. Honestly I’m entirely uncertain as to how much I learned because you haven’t graded any of my entries. I don’t know if #1 is better than #39, or if #23 shows improvement from #9, or if the entire second half of the entries show a step back from the first half. I know you said that this was just to have us practice writing, which for me it clearly did. I didn’t think I could write at least five hundred words a week (excepting holidays), but apparently I proved myself wrong.

It was pretty clever of you to not tell us you were going to read any of the entries except the closing one until the end of the year, just making sure they’re all at least five hundred words. It puts the trust in our honesty and need to follow the rules and makes it easier for you to not have to read over 20,000 words per student. You might want to read Paul’s entries though, since he isn’t the same as the rest of us and may have tried to skirt around the guidelines. I’m glad you won’t be reading all of my entries, because looking back there is some personal stuff in there about me and other people that I probably shouldn’t have included in a class assignment. But coming up with five hundred words a week was difficult, though apparently not impossible.

Tomorrow is the last day of the school year. I don’t know what I’ll do this summer; I know I’ll try and practice driving. I may get a job, and I may go on a trip with my father. I still have to see if Mark wants to contact me again, but if so I’ll spend some time with him. I’m just glad the year is over and I can go on a long break from the frustrating school routine and into days where my schedule can reflect more of what I want.

Sometimes I wonder what would happen if I moved an area, like Paul’s old neighborhood, that does things the way they used to before the scare. I would have to deal with constant requests for small talk, trying to figure out if people were being sincere or not, keeping up with fashion enough to not look like I completely didn’t belong, worrying that my limited eating options will get me ridiculed, socialization based around events with crowds and lots of noise, classes that are entirely lectures, and many other things. Even though I have to deal with some of that here to a certain extent, it’s certainly a lot less.  I may have to go into a similar environment for college or after college, so I may still get an opportunity to see how I’d fare there.  But I’m afraid that this town, for all of its flaws, may be the best place for me.

Entry #39 – June 13, 2016

The first couple of days of last week were quiet at our lunch table. Paul would try and start a conversation, or Mark would comment about a story from work, but we mostly just sat and ate our food and looked at our laptops. On Wednesday Paul told us he was going to sit with some of the kids he knows from gym and invited us to come with him. Mark, who already knew who they were, went with him, but I stayed behind. It was a week and a half away from the end of the school year, and I didn’t want to try fitting in with a new social group during such a short period of time. Plus, it gives me an opportunity to more easily study for finals during lunch this week.

Five days later I’m not sure if I made the right choice. Did Mark take my rejection to mean that I didn’t want to be friends with him at all anymore? I wouldn’t think so, but he hasn’t called since that day. Then again, it has only been five days, and it isn’t like he calls me that often anyway. I still won’t join them this year because of the reasons I previously specified. Next year I may, but I don’t know if they’d still want to deal with me by then. Maybe Mark would rather deal with people he can play sports with during summer evenings instead of being inside playing video games with me. Maybe both of them feel like I made the wrong decision not talking to Kat, although it would have been nice of them to have given me that advice if so. I mean, I don’t want to sound too dramatic since it’s just as likely that Mark will ask me to come over on the first day after school. I’ll just have to wait and see.

In the meantime, I have a whole period where I can study in more peace, even though the lunch room is still filled with people talking making it sort of difficult. Since I’m planning on spending most of the time at home studying Geometry so I can bring my grade up there, I can use this time to review your class and gym. I can’t believe that we have to take a test for gym, are they going to make sure we can tell the difference between a leg press and a squat, or all the muscles you exercise when you do a push-up, or how many kilometers are we running when we run a mile? Now that I think about it, I’m not sure if I know the answers to the first two because they didn’t spend much time in gym actually teaching us anything. I know that it’s a written test and not a physical examination test at least, hopefully the teacher will upload notes sometime between now and Thursday. Otherwise, I may fail gym, which would be rather embarrassing if it didn’t also mean everybody else would fail it too.

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Entry #38 – June 6, 2016

On Friday Paul, Mark, and I were at the lunch table waiting for Kat to join us when Paul commented positively to us on the attractiveness of a female student, and then asked my opinion. I don’t know her name, I think she may be a freshman, anyway I agreed that she was very pretty. Unfortunately, Kat was coming to the table behind us and neither I nor Paul could see her and Mark could but didn’t say anything. We only noticed because we heard her quickly walk off and sit down at another table by herself. Paul went over to apologize, a significant difference in attitude considering how he talked about her two weeks before, before leaving her and coming back. He said that she needed to be alone, and that there was nothing we could do. She didn’t come back to our table today, and I don’t know if she ever will.

I don’t know what to do. I could go over there and talk to her, but it might just make everything worse. Showing interest may give her false hope and fuel her obsession. Maybe leaving her alone would cause her to think that I didn’t care and she will stop, if not having feelings for me, at least loving me. But what if the only way she’ll feel better is if I go over there and try and comfort her? Part of the reason she said she loved me is because I sat there and listened to her for years when I didn’t have to. So how will she cope if that part of her life goes missing? I wish I had some idea of what would make her feel better, or at least what wouldn’t make her feel worse.

I could try to think about what I would want in her situation, but that isn’t any less confusing. Social interactions with people can exhaust me, and I prefer to be alone most of the time, but when I’m alone I often find myself wanting to be with people even though I know it is mostly unpleasant. It’s most apparent when you’re sitting alone, like Kat, in a room full of people in groups talking to one another. You can see them getting along and enjoying themselves, and you want to be like that but you don’t think you can. But even when you get lonely, if someone drags you over to their group it may be so frightening trying to fit in with new people that you’d have rather they just left you alone. Here, you know everyone except Paul feels at least somewhat similarly, so you can’t know what course of action to take if you see somebody alone at a table. Do you leave the person to be lonely at their own table, taking away a chance to potentially enjoy time with your group? Or do you bring them to your table, trying to help them be less sad but risking heightening their frustration? With Paul, it was easy to invite him over because I knew his need for social contact was greater than his risk of awkwardness. I can’t decide what to do with Kat. I just hope that she knows what she needs to do better than I do.

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Entry #37 – May 31, 2016

The video card in my desktop computer got fried last week, and I’m still waiting for the replacement to arrive in the mail. This isn’t a metaphor; I know all the jokes about how the people in my generation are all like computers, and from the last entry you can tell that I’m getting rather fried myself. I mean my computer hasn’t worked for several days and it’s incredibly irritating to me. I still have my laptop, but there’s a lot of multimedia files on the other computer that I can’t access, and I can’t play a lot of games on the laptop because it isn’t powerful enough. The stress from the school year is starting to pile on as we get near the end, meaning that I need all the methods to relax that I can get. I can’t talk to many of my online friends as much because we talk while playing games that I can’t play right now. Mark has his job, which makes plans to go over to his place much more difficult. He’s probably also stressed out from the past nine months of this routine. I think that we all are, since meltdowns tend to skyrocket around this time. We had two this past week, whereas we only had a one in the previous three months.

I finished my third and fourth driving lessons. I did better the second time around with the parallel parking, although I’m still a ways away from trying it between real cars instead of traffic cones. The fourth lesson was fine, it mostly re-covered what I did in the first one and I could tell the difference that a couple of weeks makes. I was much more comfortable behind the wheel, not perfectly but enough that I could do most of the getting on the road drill instinctively without thinking about every step. Now it’s up to my parents to help me practice, which may have to wait until after the school year is over so I won’t have another thing to stress out about before it’s over.

At least my family is well. Both parents are home and our schedules are set in stone again, which brings important stability to my life. There haven’t been any fights that distract me from my work and drive my stress levels up even further. I haven’t had a meltdown at home for over two years now, and I’m sure my parents and neighbors would prefer to keep it that way. At least it would be less embarrassing than a meltdown at school, but either way I don’t want to lose control like that ever again anywhere. I just have to keep doing the relaxation techniques they taught us in social skills classes, avoid overstimulation, and try not to get into situations I know could trigger a meltdown. Having a dedicated therapist from the school is a big help. The end of the year is less than a month away, so it I should be able to make it.

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Entry #36 – May 23, 2016

A couple days after Kat confessed her feelings to me Paul made a comment about her seeming “clingy” for saying she loved me before we even dated, which angered me and I told him not to say it again. He hasn’t, even if he said he was absolutely correct. It bothered me because it suggests that she chose to feel this way. Do you think that somebody wakes up and decides that their life is too boring, and that maybe they should develop an unhealthy obsession with someone that occupies all of their thoughts despite not having any chance of ever being together with them, causing them to become depressed and irritable and their grades to suffer and people to stop talking to them because they think they’re “clingy” or something. She can’t control how she feels about me. I mean, why develop them for me instead of Mark, who has been sitting at the table with her the same amount of time as I have. He even has a job! I don’t know because reasons why we feel the ways we do about one another are mysterious and we have very little idea of how they work. If I could choose to feel the same way about her that she does about me in order to make her happy, I would. But I can’t choose to, I just don’t feel that way, and I’m certainly not going to lie about it to make her feel better in the short term because it’ll result in devastation in the long run.

If she decided to act out on her feelings in unethical ways, like repeatedly manipulating me into getting me to love her or stalking me, then that’s definitely a problem that needs to be dealt with. But all she did was be honest with her feelings to me, as is now acting honestly in accordance with her feeling of being upset that I don’t feel the same way. And I understand that. Feelings of rejection have fueled thousands of works of art, because it’s both common and painful. And of course there are thousands of more works of art based on mutual love that has been found. And those art forms may influence the way we engaging in romance but the feelings towards one another were there first otherwise the people making that art wouldn’t have been born. Some people feel pulled towards others, and some people don’t. Yes, it may be uncomfortable for someone your age to hear kids talk about wanting each other, but it happens. We can’t control how we feel, but we can control how we consciously judge people. People shouldn’t be mocked because of how deeply they feel about somebody, or how little other people seem attracted to them, or how many people they have mutual attraction with. Because nobody, not even people like you or Paul, can see what is entirely going on in another person’s mind. We can only judge people on how they act, in particular how well they treat others around them.

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Entry #35 – May 16, 2016

Today Kat pulled me aside before we got into the lunch room. At first she didn’t say anything, but when I went to leave she told me to wait. It took another minute before she said anything else, and even then she was stammering. She tried to get me to guess what she was trying to say, but I couldn’t begin to. She eventually managed to tell me that she loved me, not as a friend but romantically. She said that it was different than with Daniel, because she could talk to me and I was willing to put up with her even when he was all she could talk about. I told her that I was sorry that I didn’t feel that way about her, and she replied that she didn’t know but she needed to tell me how she felt anyway. We both went into the lunch room after that.

Despite my shock I managed to get to the lunch table before Kat did. Paul came right out and asked if Kat and I were late because we were making out in a broom closest or something. I asked him what he was talking about and he told me about how obvious it was that Kat had feelings for me. I then asked him whether or not the fact that I didn’t have those same feelings for her was as obvious to him, and he said that they weren’t. He said that here it’s sometimes it’s incredibly easy to tell when someone is feeling an emotion, even if they aren’t showing the one he would expect. But the rest of the time he can’t tell whether or not we’re feeling anything at all. So he figured she may have been one of the former instances and I was one of the latter. I replied that he was incorrect and that I didn’t share her feelings. Finally Kat came to the table so we stopped talking about it.

The rest of the day was pretty uncomfortable. Kat spent gym as far across the room from me as she could get, and you probably know better than I do how she was acting in your class. Mark called me after he got off work to ask me what I thought about the situation, and I told him that I had no idea. Since she sat with us at lunch afterwards I said I guess she’s willing to keep talking with us there even with her feelings for me. Mark agreed, adding that she’s probably felt this way for at least a few weeks now and she hasn’t stopped sitting with us. And now that she doesn’t have to keep it a secret any longer, maybe it’ll be less awkward for her. He also added that we have no way of knowing for certain what is going to happen. I said that was true, and we would have to wait and see. After that, we hung up, and I went to eat dinner then finished this assignment.

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