Monday, August 01, 2011

Wrong Planet

For almost 2 decades now my family doctors have tried in various ways to persuade me to take tests and have my brain scanned, and I have managed to convince myself that I have no need to know everything there is to know about me. I live one day at a time, and have avoided making long-term plans. It all makes sense now of course that the reason I hadn't been making plans was because I lack the capability to do so.

It spooks me still how close D came to diagnosing me when he claimed in 2008 that I was a 16-year-old trapped in the body of a 35-year-old. And I finally understand now why some time 3 decades ago, Sea all of a sudden felt like the older sister instead. I also know now why I couldn't help giggling whenever someone referred to me as D's wife or Celeste's mother. I can only be my Dad's daughter, and the whole idea of me being someone's wife and mother is simply too difficult for me to comprehend. 

I have been very fortunate that my Dad was able to provide very, very well until I turned 20, and that after he was gone, there was Granny and Aunt who took over. I was 25 when Granny and Aunt decided D was the right person to look after me, and Aunt bought us our matrimonial home.

I am aware that for someone with Asperger's, I was lucky I didn't suffer as a kid. Dad had made the very wise decision of sending me to a village school where roofs leaked when it rained and where both teachers and students were sincere, humble and very simple people. I was extremely naughty but delightfully bright and so enjoyed a kind of love-hate relationship with my teachers. I didn't quite get along with my friends all the time because I always managed to find ways to piss them off, and Josh was about the only one who loved my sabotages and for 6 years in elementary, he was the only person I would chat on the phone with. I think he liked the mental stimulation. By age 5, I was able to read complex Chinese and knew a whole lot of things that kids of my age were not even aware of eg. the life of Buddha and his teachings, and I was writing short stories in English and Chinese. 

Secondary school life (grade 7 to 10) was a tad hellish though and I remember dreading every single day of my life then. The challenge that confronted me was that it was a very good school that I was attending, and I had been in the top class throughout. Both teachers and students were haughty, and the girls were sophisticated. I was told in my face multiple times that I was a black sheep, a bad apple, and a delinquent. Not that I disagreed with them. Whenever they had their morning devotions, I would go around pulling my classmates' hair and skirts. I refused to have anything to do with team projects because no one would ever listen to me in group discussions. My ideas were stupid to my team mates, and a few minutes into the meetings, I would be made to feel like I was air ie. everyone knew I was there, but I wasn't seen or heard. And that was because I've always been in all-girls group. I hated the girls. And to a certain extent, the guys too. Well, except for Alex (who is now my insurance agent), and Mark (whom I suspect has Asperger's too - he was extremely eccentric- but my Dad adored him, and Mark is now a very famous doctor at our Tan Tock Seng Hospital), who had been very good to me. 

In secondary school, when it comes to girls, the only one who didn't mind me, and would condone my very awkward and peculiar way of talking and behaving was Boon Sin. But Boon Sin was with me for only a year; we went to different class for the following 3 years. Today, she remains the only friend from the school that I still keep in contact with. I guess only very, very good souls would accept me and enjoy spending more than 15 minutes with me. If not for Boon Sin, I would have felt utterly worthless. Life got really terrible after my supposedly best friend in class (she sat right next to me) told me one day that had her mother still been alive, she would have forbidden her from continuing to be my friend. 

I was nearly expelled from school during my last year in secondary school, and the principal was quite sure that I wouldn't make it to college. What a rude shock it must have been for her when the GCE "O"s results were out (I was already starting high school in Edmonton, Alberta, and it was Dad who went back to collect my results, and my principal received him personally. After all, they have known each other pretty well after 4 years of highly frequent meet-the-parent sessions). When it was Cambridge that assessed me, I aced in all the 8 subjects, and I scored an A for Literature (it was mandatory then for triple- science class students to take and pass at least one humanity subject, and I chose Literature), which I had always received failing grades for when marked by my own teachers, who insisted that I answered the questions the way that the exemplary students in my class did. I would be given copies of my partner's 3-page answers and those of the other girls that were constantly questioning my morals openly (I was told that only very bad persons cross the roads when the lights were red!!!) for me to MEMORIZE. Whenever I talked back, I would get a "you had better pull up your socks" remark PUBLICLY. I hated school then, and only loved to go back for choir practice, because Mrs Seet, a retired renowned opera singer, for some strange reasons, adored me.

Life at U of Alberta didn't get any better for me. If I was an odd ball in my own Asian culture, I was an alien in a Western one. The Canadians are very decent, no-nonsense folks, and had the hardest time trying to accommodate someone like me. If I was naughty in my own country, I was a devil there. But I did have exceptionally kind professors who were amused by me, and a few remained in contact after I returned home. I never really did well in team projects, but got through internship without incident, and graduated on Dean's List. 

The best time of my life was when I was in high school in Edmonton. That was where I made friends that are now almost my family. A few came visiting just last month. Andrew's one of them. Most of them didn't make it to college, but are now successful businessmen. One of them, my dear sworn brother, is likely to be running for political office. Which we kind of figured he would, coz he was already a much feared ring leader back in Edmonton. HA.

At work, I was lucky to have done well after I met 2 amazing human beings at Police - Ma'am Jessica and Sir Bobby - who accommodated my queerness and gave me exceptional opportunities and almost 100% freedom to do what I was good at doing . After having spent 3 years in a banking environment, where my ability to work was always questioned until I pushed the branches to the top of the billboard, and where I was always ostracized by the very, very sophisticated bankers, Police was heaven on earth. Then I left civil service for 3 years, returning in early 2010. I didn't manage to get accepted back to Police, and went to the Court instead. It was there that it first dawned on me that I wasn't as good a worker as I had always thought I was, and that most people hated me the way my secondary school teachers and friends hated me. My ideas were radical, and I was too direct for most people's liking. My direct superior was a lady that I adore, and there wasn't much she could do for me coz it's me against the system. I chose to leave after less than a year in service, understanding fully that that would leave a black mark on my service record.

The year 2010 taught me a little bit more about life and about myself. I hadn't gone for a single interview after I left the prop firm that I was with briefly shortly after I left the Court. The prop firm owner - a very, very interesting lady who is a lawyer that runs many successful businesses (she's a friend of Jim Rogers..hmmm..) loves to tell me how much I resemble Sandra Bullocks' character in All About Steve. I talked like a talking encyclopedia, she would say. And I was just always quirky and clumsy. The comment had an impact on me. No one has ever told me that directly, but in such a kind and gentle way that I was STRANGE. I started to become aware of how fast I would talk to D, to Sea, to my Aunt and extremely close friends like Boon Sin and my friends in HK. I started to notice I have 2 distinctive modes of behavior that make some think I have schizophrenia. I'll be the silent and shrewd observer who is wise like yoda to MOST people, and a complete Mary Horowitz when I'm in the company of the handful of people in my circle of trust.

I'm increasingly unable to function in 2 totally different modes, and I suppose that's the reason I haven't been able to find a normal job. I can't help being myself the older I grow, because to not be me has been very draining. I most definitely am degenerating. I accept that there's a high chance that the day will come when I will forget many of the people I have crossed path with in my life. I'm already not good in keeping contact, or simply picking up the phone to ask "how have you been?", and it won't be in the remote future that I'd lose most of them because I find connecting with another soul on an emotional level just too overwhelming. 

Unlike Ruben in the video clips below, I have no desire to "get on" with people or to "fit in" (I'm A LOT like him otherwise). I have no desire to continue to be queer either. It is my goal though, to be a contributing member of society, to be the best of what I can reasonably force myself to be, and to always be there for D, my siblings, and friends like Boon Sin, and in the event that I do manage to find that "talent" that I am supposed to have, to RULE and CHANGE the WORLD, because I really don't like the current one. 

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seabloke said...

why do you classify yourself on the A-list and act like an A-lister should??

To me you're just unique!

Singapore Man Of Leisure said...

The most expensive and prized tulip strain during the tulip mania was a "damaged" tulip - the unique red streaks on its petals were the result of a virus infecion. People didn't know then.
It was prized because it was unique and rare.

The first ape that walked on it's hind legs probably got ostracised by its peers. Look who's laughing now.

Like ducks being calm and smooth on the surface, the rest of us are paddling like hell to find ourselves. At least you have been to you :)

Joshua Q said...

It's good to see my name mentioned in your blog :-)