On being weird: Stigma, oddity and progressivism

by: plf515

Mon Jan 28, 2013 at 11:42:59 AM EST

I'm weird.

Not just in the ways many of us here are weird - liberal, progressive, etc.  No.  Not even just because I am an atheist. I was born on July 2, 1959, 7 weeks early, with no sucking reflex and no nails on fingers or toes.  Because I wasn't that small, though, I was not given special attention in the hospital.  My parents have since told me they considered suing the hospital.  By the time I was 4 or so, it was clear that I was, in my father's phrase "screwed up somehow, but not stupid".  I was asked not to return to the same school after kindergarten.  A psychologist told my parents I would never graduate from college.  I did, by the way, graduate at age 20; my parents had a party for me.  I invited the psychologist.  He wrote back saying he was glad he was wrong.

My mother started a school for me, the [Gateway School of New York, because there were no schools for kids like me: I was what was then just beginning to be called learning disabled.  But the diagnoses my parents got were more like `minimal brain damage' or or 'minimal brain dysfunction' or `mentally retarded'.  

My mother was, to put it mildly, a very determined woman.  She found another very determined woman (Elizabeth Freidus - pronounced freed us, and what a great name for a teacher in special ed)!  Elizabeth did everything that had to do with teaching, my mom did everything else.  I have two stories that may have some relevance (or may not  - but they're good stories) regarding the founding of Gateway: One regards normality and the other regards rights.

plf515 :: On being weird: Stigma, oddity and progressivism
One of the big tasks my mother had was fund raising, because running a school is expensive indeed.  At one meeting, a woman said she did not want her son to attend such a school, because he would not be considered `normal'.  Another woman, a Mrs. Napier-White, a very proper lady in gloves, turned to her and said
I don't like normal people.  I never have.
Another task was finding a location. One possibility was space in a very prestigious church in one of the ritziest parts of New York. My mother and Elizabeth  went to meet the leader of the church.  He asked "Will there be Negro children in the school?" (this was 1964 or so).  Elizabeth responded "We will admit children who can benefit from what we offer, regardless of race.".  Rev. Hamsa replied "GOOD!  Some of my parishioners won't be happy.  There are other congregations."

So, I am weird because I am learning disabled.  And not even one of your common garden-variety learning disabilities.  I have nonverbal learning disability (NLD).  

So, what is this NLD stuff?
How can someone (me) be LD and really good at both reading and math?  
What's it like being weird?
Is all this just a crock, an excuse for being lazy, crazy, or stupid?

Last question first: No, it's not.

First question next.  NLD is a neurlogical impairment that affects people's abilities with many areas, typically ones that are not related to speech.  Common areas of difficulty are reading body language, spatial perception, visual skills, physical coordination, and so on.  

Second question: Anything an adult knows that an infant doesn't know has to be learned.  If you are much worse at one set of these skills than at most others, that's LD.  It can be about reading (dyslexia), math (dyscalculia) or other things....(NLD, Asperger's etc).  You can be LD and gifted.  Why not? You can be tall and fat, can't you?

and finally the biggie:

Well, being weird genearlly sucks.
I mentioned Gateway earlier. I went there until I was 9. I was very small for my age, extremely skinny, blind in one eye, highly nearsighted in the other, uncoordinated in the extreme.  I was socially retarded and academically precocious.  I was a disaster waiting to happen, and I did not have to wait long.  The first school I attended was Emerson, for 4th and 5th grade.  This was bad, but not too bad.  I did manage to make two reasonably good friends (one with, for what it's worth, one of the few Black kids in the school).  I wasn't popular, I wasn't much liked, but I wasn't a pariah.  But then came junior high and high school. I do not remember a single overwhelming incident, it was more a constant feeling of constant dread, constant teasing, and a total absence of friendship.  I had no friends in school.  Not few, none.  I had no `group' - indeed, because of my learning disabilities, I wasn't even aware there were groups - and so, I was constantly a victim.  Glue was poured in my hair.  Glue was poured on my chair as I sat down.  People cheated off me without telling me.  I was always last picked on every team.  I got stuffed into trash cans.  And so on.  For 5 years (grades 6 through 11, I skipped the senior year to go to college).  During this time I was frequently suicidal, once sitting out on the ledge 8 floors up over concrete, thinking.  I climbed back in, and wrote this poem:

   Have you ever?

   Have you ever been out on a ledge, looking down?
   Have you ever felt fear and hate all around?
   Have you ever seen warfare inside your own soul?
   Have you  ever known that you'd never be whole?

   And yet, for some reason, you crawl on back in
   Like Hamlet from Shakespeare, but which is the sin:
   To jump, fall and die, and thus to be free,
   Or to be a coward, like Hamlet and me?

Much later, I lived in Israel for a few years, and learned Hebrew.  The word for `to commit suicide' in Hebrew, is, literally, `to lose oneself' (it is the reflexive form of `to lose', as in the opposite of `find').  I lost myself.  I lost myself in reading (not the books assigned.....but lots of science fiction, history, biography, math, science, almost anything).  I lost myself in math.  In fifth grade, I had a math teacher of the old school, who thought that if you could not do a whole sheet of multiplication without error, you were not ready to learn division.  I was given remedial math over the summer. She taught me 2 or 3 years of math. Then, in sixth grade, I had a wonderful teacher who skipped me to his ninth grade class when I took the book home and did the whole thing in one night). Then I came to class (this puny 6th grader) and wondered, aloud, how stupid the ninth graders must be to not understand material that was so easy for me.  (Like I said, I was socially retarded.  I wasn't kidding when I said that).  I lost myself in poetry, but found myself there, too.  And I found myself in therapy (many years of it).  

   Gateway to myself

   I dwelt alone, in misery, a shroud of hate lay over all.
   Too alone, and far too fearful, to let a friend within my wall.

   A castle tall and strong I built
   And locked myself within its walls.
   With my ego bruised and hurting
   From a slew too many falls.

   I was alone, king of my castle;
   Lord of all that I surveyed.
   And if others didnt' want me,
   I with hate their hate repaid.

   I called myself a better person
   Than anyone that I could see
   But, deep within, I knew me lying
   For deep within myself was me.

   With the help of years and teachers
   (Many of each, I am afraid)
   I began to see that I
   Could see my castle be unmade.

   My first reaction, dim and fearful
   Was to build walls higher still.
   But I knew myself unhappy
   And, somehow, I knew my own will.

   Those walls remain, they'll never vanish
   Too much pain remains in me
   Soon though, they will be made smaller
   And let in a friend, or thee.

College was much, much better.  I went to NYU, a huge school.  That was good for me. Some parents of special needs disabled kids worry about big schools - that their kids will slip through the cracks.  Me? I needed some cracks.  I needed to not be the "weird one" but only one of the odd ones.  To be weird in a high school with 200 students in total is easy.  To be weird in a university with 40,000 students is hard.  

Life since college is better still.  Not that there haven't been challenges, but I have a PhD and a good job; I'm married and have two wonderful kids.  When I speak to parents I sometimes say:

I have good news, and bad news.  The good news is that every year since age 15 has been better than the last.   The bad news is that age 15 really SUCKED.  

I am still learning disabled, and always will be.  I give lectures about it now, both to teachers and to kids.  I am writing a book about it, as well (tentative title - Screwed up somehow, but not stupid) - although the book is on hold, it's a mess.  I wrote a little more about my particular difficulties in my diary last night and would be glad to write more, either in reply to comments here, or in a separate diary; if you want a label for what I have, the best is probably nonverbal learning disability. It doesn't make for an easy life.  Of course, people with NLD are supposed to have no sense of humor and be bad at math.  Heh.  I gave a talk at an NLD conference where I said that.  Then I said:

Bad at math.  I'm a statistician. And no sense of humor  .... well ..

A guy is flying in a hot air balloon, and he's lost.  He lowers himself
over a field and calls to a guy "Can you tell me where I am and where
I'm headed?"

"Sure.  You're at 35 degrees 2 minutes and 14 seconds North, 106
degrees 4 minute and 19 seconds west; you're at an altitude of 1610
meters above sea level, and right now you're hovering, but you were on a
vector of 234 degrees at 12 meters per second"

"Amazing! Thanks!  By the way, do you have Asperger's Syndrome?"

"I do! How did you know that?"

"Because everything you said is true, it's much more detail than I
need, and you told me in a way that's no use to me at all."

"Huh.  Are you a clinical psychologist?"

"I am, but how the heck did you know that??"

"You don't know where you are.  You don't know where you're going.  You
got where you are by blowing hot air.  You put labels on people after asking a few questions, and you're in exactly the same spot you were 5
minutes ago, but now, somehow, it's my fault!

But I am still LD, and still weird. And it still sucks.

What has all this to do with politics?  I can't say for sure.  I'd like to think that my own victimhood has made me more sensitive to others.  I do know that I have a visceral dislike for those who take advantage of those less fortunate, and that I have a visceral fondness for the `other' the `different' the `odd'.  Naturally, these traits make me a Democrat and a progressive.  Did my progressive views spring from my pariah status in adolescence? I don't know.  It could easily have come from my parents, both of whom were fairly progressive (though not as much as I am).

Was Nietzsche right when he said "What doesn't kill us makes us stronger?" No. Nietzsche was a jackass.  What doesn't kill us leaves us maimed.  Some of the wounded show up here.  Some do commit suicide.  Some wind up racist, homophobic, and horrible; people who feel badly about themselves sometimes need to find others to feel better than, and sometimes the only way they can think to do that is by finding some whole group to denigrate.  And, while bigots make me angry, they also evoke my pity.  They are missing so much!

Do we, the weird but walking (I just made that up!), not have an obligation to reach out to others?  No one should commit suicide because they don't have friends.  No one should be outcast.  Not because their skin is a different color, not because they believe in a different God (or no God), not because the people who make them all tingly inside are the same sex as they are, not because they were born in the wrong bodies, not because they speak the wrong language, or because they come from a different country.  

There is no 'them'.  There is only us.  We the people.   All of the people.  Including the weird.

So, among those who had traumatic childhoods, or are disabled, or are otherwise stigmatized .... how do you  think that has affected your political view?

Stigma and politics
I am not a member of a stigmatized group
I am a member, but it has not affected my politics
I am a member and it has made me more progressive
I am a member and it has made me less progressive
I am a member and it has affected me in other was


Tags: , , (All Tags)
Print Friendly View Send As Email

This might be your best diary ever, Peter, (2.00 / 37)
at least on this topic. Much to think about. Thanks!

"Do your little bit of good where you are; it is those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world." ~ Desmond Tutu

Well thanks! (2.00 / 30)
It hasn't gotten a lot of comments, but things can be slower in purple.  

"Most people worry about their own bellies and other people's souls when we all ought to worry about our own souls and others' bellies" Israel Salanter

[ Parent ]
I've noticed weekdays are slower than weekends, (2.00 / 24)
but people eventually catch up with their reading. The flip side of "slow comments" is "longer time on the recent list".

I'm serious about your diary, Peter. I've already sent it to three people.  

"Do your little bit of good where you are; it is those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world." ~ Desmond Tutu

[ Parent ]
Fantastic diary, (2.00 / 26)
And timing here is a different animal. Rather than blurring out a lot of one-liners over a few hours, the Moose is more geared to a few days of considered conversation.

I, for example, will have to come back to this diary several times to do any justice to the kind of comments I want to add

John Askren - "Never get into a pissing match with a skunk."

[ Parent ]
Let me know if that image fits or not (2.00 / 21)
we can pick another.

It is an FP thing...

John Askren - "Never get into a pissing match with a skunk."

[ Parent ]
Meh for "not so much"? :~) (2.00 / 19)
I didn't want to pick something negative, but will follow your lead since you are the author.

If you want to pic one or give me some ideas we can put up what you choose.  

John Askren - "Never get into a pissing match with a skunk."

[ Parent ]
"meh" was a mistake (2.00 / 15)
I forget that after clicking on "fierce" it can still change to "meh" if you hit the up arrow

"Most people worry about their own bellies and other people's souls when we all ought to worry about our own souls and others' bellies" Israel Salanter

[ Parent ]
I am not that great with images (2.00 / 18)
so I don't know.  

"Most people worry about their own bellies and other people's souls when we all ought to worry about our own souls and others' bellies" Israel Salanter

[ Parent ]
Purple is mellow. (2.00 / 19)
More time to read, think, respond or just savor.  

"If you're in a coalition and you're comfortable, you know it's not a broad enough coalition"

Bernice Johnson Reagon

[ Parent ]
some people consider me weird (2.00 / 28)
because I talk funny. For some reason, most people think I speak Spanish. I don't. I speak English with a deaf accent. Sometimes little kids go to their moms and ask why I talk funny?  That stings a little bit, but I've gotten used to it. Once you teach them a few signs, they think you are very cool, so it all works out.

Great diary!  

I have never heard that expression before (2.00 / 27)
'a deaf accent'. My cousin Brian was deaf and I know exactly what you mean, but I never thought of it as an accent before.

Enduring security and lasting peace do not require perpetual war.

Barack Obama 1/21/2013

[ Parent ]
It's an informal term (2.00 / 25)
as I understand it. I wouldn't know, but they do say not all deaf people sound alike. However, sometimes I ask my hearing daughter to judge the speech of proficient deaf speakers like the actress Marlee Matlin. She says while her speech is good, better than mine, in fact, daughter could tell she was deaf.  

[ Parent ]
There are, I hear, also accents in sign language n/t (2.00 / 22)

"Most people worry about their own bellies and other people's souls when we all ought to worry about our own souls and others' bellies" Israel Salanter

[ Parent ]
I have heard a few deaf people speak (2.00 / 21)
and I have heard many people with Spanish accents (including various Spanish accents - people from Spain speak English differently than people from, e.g. Puerto Rico). To me, they don't sound alike.

I have had people assume I speak Spanish, just looking at me; I am not sure why.  

"Most people worry about their own bellies and other people's souls when we all ought to worry about our own souls and others' bellies" Israel Salanter

[ Parent ]
What an amazing diary (2.00 / 28)
And something I needed to read right now. I am in the process of going through psychological testing to get an 'official diagnosis' of my weirdness.

I'm 50...my oddities have held me back socially and probably proffessionally but I was fully able to succeed practically. In other words, I did great in school academically but sucked at so many other things.

I'm ambivalent about getting an offical label placed on my own particular weirdness, but at this point in my life it has become necessary. More about this in a diary I plan to put up once everything has shaken out.

I love to read your writings about disability because I identify with you even though your situation is far, far different from mine.

Enduring security and lasting peace do not require perpetual war.

Barack Obama 1/21/2013

A diagnosis can be useful (2.00 / 25)
it can be a way to get help, a way to find others, etc.

Just don't let it be a box. Boxes are for groceries.  

"Most people worry about their own bellies and other people's souls when we all ought to worry about our own souls and others' bellies" Israel Salanter

[ Parent ]
Late diagnosis (2.00 / 7)
Iriti, let me say, go for it.

I was hanging out with psychos psychology professionals in the 1980s and had lots of tests but the diagnosis didn't come until circa 2002 when I matched the questionnaire for ADD. Of course, there was no such thing as ADD when I was in college and grownups didn't have it until much later.

And to think I thought you were normal. Silly me, I underestimated you.

Let there be light. Then let there be a cat, a cocktail, and a good book.

[ Parent ]
if there's anything that unites all humanity... (2.00 / 27)
it's teh weird.  we all haz it.  

Earth is the best vacation place for advanced clowns. --Gary Busey

Well, it's always united you and me at least... n/t (2.00 / 7)

The future is unwritten

[ Parent ]
I have always been weird, I think... (2.00 / 25)
Not physically disabled, unless you count devastatingly nearsighted, with the coke-bottle-lens glasses that go with that, weird facial features, gaps between my front teeth (due to being born without second incisors) and uncontrollably curly hair, which my fundamentalist father refused to let me cut...

But really smart - smart enough that the local university studied me when I started first grade.

I was put in a special education class because they didn't know what else to do with me. (There was no "gifted" program at my little small-town school, and my parents could not afford anything other than public school for me.)

I skipped a couple of grades, then I did my first semester of college (at the university that initially tested me) between my junior and senior year of high school.

I have ADD, and really can't focus on anything for very long, which may be the reason that I'm in my 50s, have had many, many jobs, three college majors and two minors, and can't even manage to keep my house relatively clean.

Oh, well. I am what I am, and I'm probably too old to change much, even if I wanted to, which I really don't.

I always say that "normal" is just a setting on the dryer... ;-)

Good diary. I really enjoy your writing - please do more!

Really interesting diary, Peter. I was something of an (2.00 / 27)
outcast as a child, but for very different reasons, so on one level I'm very empathetic about your disabilities. Don't be discouraged if there don't seem to be a lot of comments. I've noticed that here I will read rather randomly, then skip over something for a couple of days, go back to read it, mull it over for a day or three, add a comment or not... whatever strikes my fancy. I suspect this is one people have to digest (ruminate on like a moose?) awhile to respond. There's also quite a difference between 3.5 k registered users and 600 k. Plus there's an intimacy here that is quite nice to be shared among fewer people that doesn't work at a big site, I think.  

Wer kämpft, kann verlieren. Wer nicht kämpft, hat schon verloren.
                       - Bertolt Brecht

Great diary. Thanks, Have copied it and (2.00 / 24)
sent if off to a friend whose son went to Gateway after you. it must be the same school. She has nothing but praise for it. Her son didn't finish college (it just wasn't for him) but he is now some super computer guru, happily married, and the person I want to sit next to at any gathering.

There are many Gateway schools (2.00 / 21)
but I think that is the only one in NYC.  

"Most people worry about their own bellies and other people's souls when we all ought to worry about our own souls and others' bellies" Israel Salanter

[ Parent ]
Must be the one because this was in NYC. (2.00 / 19)

[ Parent ]
Simply remarkable diary, plf515! (2.00 / 25)
I spent much of my childhood as an awkward outcast. I've gradually turned some of my "bugs" into "features" by using them in my writing and interpersonal interactions.

It's helped my already Progressive tendencies, as I identify with those who are marginalized or downtrodden. I feel that it's my responsibility to use whatever quirky talents I might possess to heighten the sensitivities of others, to get them to see other possibilities.

Sadly, there are many people out there who feel that the answer to what ails us is thicker skin. I wonder how they will feel when the winds of adversity blow through the cracks in their fortified bunkers?

Those of us who've battled our challenges and emerged with the same - or more - empathy for our fellow people seem better able to cope. Just my two cents.

Thanks again for an excellent diary, and glad to see you here in the Moose Meadow.  

I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.

-- Oscar Wilde

I like this very much... (2.00 / 23)
I've gradually turned some of my "bugs" into "features"

[ Parent ]
Thanks, Lorinda Pike - I'm a work in progress (2.00 / 23)
after extensive beta-testing, I think I've figured out most of the problems ;-)

I still need a couple of [in]security patches from time to time, though.  

I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.

-- Oscar Wilde

[ Parent ]
You have such a wonderful way with words! (2.00 / 18)
...I often need [in]security patchesTM myself.  ;-D

(You do need to trademark that, BTW...)

[ Parent ]
Yes, yes, yes (2.00 / 8)
I wonder how they will feel when the winds of adversity blow through the cracks in their fortified bunkers?

Let there be light. Then let there be a cat, a cocktail, and a good book.

[ Parent ]
I don't have an LD (2.00 / 22)
But I am fairly socially awkward, it's getting worse as I get older so it may just be a lack of patience.  I was an army brat, 12 schools in 12 years so don't have or need very close girlfriends.  I have always been more comfortable hanging with the guys...I love sports so this made things easier that way as well.  Mostly I like to read, knit, crochet, read and then read.  When my kids go to sleep I prefer to not speak which can be hard on my husband some nights as he is a much more outgoing person than I am.
My daughter seems to have the same personality.  Very very smart.  A bit of a loner.  Strong willed though, no pushover.  I like her.  She is a thinker.

Good diary.  You are a natural writer, I am jealous of that trait.

Bravo Peter. Great diary, among many great ones. one humble suggestion (2.00 / 19)
I have recently found a one/two punch for getting people to focus on NVLD.
Dyspraxia/Daniel Radcliffe has it.

The British term dyspraxia for NVLD helps (never mind if they are identical clinicially or not), as it resembles dyslexia and dyscalculia

Followed Daniel Radcliffe (yes, Harry frigging Potter) has it and  his coming out is now bring it recognition in North America.

That said, I have to find therapists, clinics, support groups for it in metro Boston where psych professional are as numerous as, oh, Red Sox fans....to be hyperbolic.

And here goes an attempt at linking via l'orange:
Harry Potter's nlvd

Great read! I really enjoyed it (2.00 / 24)
It's great because I have a lot of thinking to do about it.

I'm weird, Jonothan Livingston Seagull is my role model in that I love to fly, I'm always learning and I have never once wanted to be like everyone else. After all, one can't be extraordinary by being ordinary now can they.

I teach for a living and my students love me yet I prefer to be left alone when I'm not "on stage." My parents hated me and the fact of my existence, it complicated their hate for each other, and burdened them with the need to keep up the appearance of being "good parents." They tormented me when no one was looking, and the few who saw it ignored it...no one saved me, so my best case scenario in life now is to be left alone. My cats never bitch at, denigrate or belittle me, so they are my company.

I was out of work for a few years and became an accomplished alcoholic. I got so bad that I couldn't drink enough to stop shaking anymore. I had to decide whether to just go ahead and die, or to go and get sober. I considered my options and, as one who had been on the best vacation ever might decide, that while it has been a blast, it's time to go home. Not sad, very happy in fact, just time to go home. I was very content.

I ordered an Exacto knife from amazon, drank to my decision, very heavily I might add, sent good by notes to those I loved and passed out. The cops woke me up beating in my door....I wrote the notes too soon, the knives weren't there yet...and they took me to the hospital.

I went home, relapsed, decided to get sober, went to detox where upon arrival I was breathalyzer tested. I was more sober than I had been in months, withdrawing so hard that I was unable to control my shaking to fill out the forms. My test showed a blood alcohol level of 0.34. more than four times the limit to drive and that was sober for me.

I'm three years plus into sober. I still think that this vacation should be over, but I'm still here, still sober, still alone, and still very good at what I do.
I too am weird.
I think that we all are.


Republicans only care about Republicans.
Democrats care about the Republic

Good for you for getting sober, that's a very tough row to hoe. (2.00 / 10)
I hope you are proud of overcoming your addiction, because you should be - it takes a lot of courage and determination to do that. I know from personal experience, 17 years alcohol-free for me. Yaay, us!

Wer kämpft, kann verlieren. Wer nicht kämpft, hat schon verloren.
                       - Bertolt Brecht

[ Parent ]
Yaay Us!! Indeed!! (2.00 / 5)
But my pals at AA assure me that there is a relapse waiting for me tomorrow. I even have dreams about it and get furious because I effed it up.

Congrats to you...I'll be racking up the days to match you!

Republicans only care about Republicans.
Democrats care about the Republic

[ Parent ]
Wonderful diary (2.00 / 28)
not just because of the topic and your personal revelation, but also because of the fine writing.

I actually don't think I know any "normal" people.  I know tons of great ones who all have eccentricities -- some would call weird.  Some have disabilities -- physical, mental, social.  I have social disabilities.  I have to be dragged to events -- small or large.  I'm not comfortable socializing and truly prefer to be alone.  Oddly enough, I love to cook for others -- but then would like to go off and read elsewhere.

Question from a noobie -- and sorry if I'm not seeing it -- how does one rec a diary on this site?

Thank you for this beautiful and heartbreaking gem.

Ooops, never mind (2.00 / 23)
I found the rec button.

[ Parent ]
happy to see you around, btw (2.00 / 21)
welcome to the moose.

Earth is the best vacation place for advanced clowns. --Gary Busey

[ Parent ]
Thank you so much, fogiv. (2.00 / 18)

[ Parent ]
Hey welcome (2.00 / 22)
Brit here - without disguise

Great diary. I will comment more when I'm back home tomorrow

For now I'll just repeat the great old Yorkshire maxim

There's owt queer as folk. Except thee and me. And thou's a bit queer too

The p***artist formerly known as 'Brit'

[ Parent ]
Oh, I love that! (2.00 / 19)
That is also the way I approach driving, especially if I have to venture out onto the interstate. I assume everyone is crazy but me, and I'm not sure about me...  ;-)

[ Parent ]
Thank you, Peter (2.00 / 17)
lovely to be here.  When I was in York, I asked if anyone spoke American.  Tough dialect but wonderful people.

[ Parent ]
The good old saying (2.00 / 8)
I grew up on this version.

Everybody here is crazy except me and thee, and sometimes I hae me doots aboot thee.

In my family we valued words and their sound. I'm constantly wincing when people post the wrong version online, when I see old sayings that have lost their pingg!

Let there be light. Then let there be a cat, a cocktail, and a good book.

[ Parent ]
I've probably bowdlerised it in translation (2.00 / 7)
My mum use to use this expression - but she said it with a Suffolk accent, which is even more bewildering

The p***artist formerly known as 'Brit'

[ Parent ]
Hey!!!!! (2.00 / 21)
welcome :)

"If you're in a coalition and you're comfortable, you know it's not a broad enough coalition"

Bernice Johnson Reagon

[ Parent ]
Thank you, Denise! (2.00 / 18)
Wonderful group and many thanks to Kelley for pulling me in.

[ Parent ]
It's good to see you here! -JG in MD (2.00 / 7)

Let there be light. Then let there be a cat, a cocktail, and a good book.

[ Parent ]
Hi, gc2... (2.00 / 18)
It's nice over here. You'll like it!   :-)

And I agree with you about preferring to be alone. It may be a trend. (Older article, but I found it interesting.)


[ Parent ]
Hey, Lorinda!! (2.00 / 17)
I am very sure I will love it here.  Thanks for the link!

[ Parent ]
Welcome to the Moose, gchaucer2! (2.00 / 15)
We are glad to have your voice added to the conversation..both OG Moose (Original Gangster Grazer) and new Moose alike. /grin

I know you mentioned elsewhere that you have gone over our FAQ....our About page and our Posting Guidelines are, imo, even better reference sources when trying to get a 'feel' for the Moose.

The Insider's Guide to Motley Moose is a good overview of some unwritten rules and traditions...though, as with any community, new traditions are always being made.

Make yourself at home!



[ Parent ]
Thank you so much, Kysen (2.00 / 13)
I'll be one of those slowpokes -- I really do take the FAQs seriously and also want to ease into an established community -- even though I already know most of you.

[ Parent ]
Hi gchaucer2 (2.00 / 7)
great to see you in this color.

[ Parent ]
I too am 'weird'. Even my own mother called me that. (2.00 / 13)
I don't think I have any learning disabilities.  But, for many things I have to SEE and then DO the thing before I GET it.  While I have a high level of reading comprehension, I read extremely slowly and my spelling is awful.

The ways in which I'm considered weird.
I like scifi/fantasy books and movies - even though I'm a girl.  Dad and I are soooo looking forward to the next Star Trek movie and it's going to be a long wait for the second part of the Hobbit.  I also like James Bond, the Die Hard movies (there's another one coming out!!!), and movies like 'Dangerous Liasions'.  But, I don't like horror movies all that well and many of the 'Girlie' movies are just too stupid, IMNSHO.

I like algebra, but couldn't understand Calculus.  In the 7th grade math class, I was causing problems for the teacher because I was finishing my work too fast.  He insisted that I be put into Algebra in 8th grade.

I took college prep classes (physics, algebra III, trig, etc) along with vocational/technical classes (drafting).  People from either side looked at me weird because of liking the other side.

I like RPG games.  I like being by myself most of the time.  The reason is that I'm always trying to figure out what people mean in the words they say.  I'm always thinking that there's a hidden meaning somewhere.  I feel that people don't want me around cause I'm too different.  I'm also a bit socially awkward - I tend to say the 'wrong' thing at the wrong time, or too blunt.

Right now... I need to vent a bit... I'm anxious about my current work situation.  Working from home is great, except that the 'net is becoming a temptation.  Except that I feel I'm out of the loop on information about work.  We are nearing the end of a development phase and about to start end-to-end testing.  Yet today, the boss said that the user is considering tossing the conversion work that we've been working on for nearly 6 months now.... we're not providing enough benefit for the money..... hard to explain.  The boss says that there's plenty of work that needs to be done, no matter the direction that is finally decided (this will be the 4th?? direction change in 6 months).  I'll believe that when I see it.

I have an in person interview with a 'local' company and a 'permanent' position this coming Friday morning - 88 hours, but who's counting.  I had the screening interview in early November.  At that time, the HR person was very honest and said it was a maybe to being offered an in person interview.  Anyway, 2 weeks ago, the HR person called and asked if I were still interested.  Well, duh...  I've gone over the position requestion(sp??) and googled all the 3rd party software that they had on their wish list.  I think I have a good idea of what it is that they do.  But, since I've not used these 3rd party tools, how real is this interview??  I need out of the job I'm currently in - the group is so dysfunctional and lacks direction and is too wishy-washy with the user.  I'm worried that I'll say, or do, something in the interview that would drop me from consideration.  I asked my sister if she knew any of the people in the interview, she works at the company as well.  She said that she's heard that the team may be reorged, but we don't know how old her info is.  Considering the time between the phone interview and the call back, it is entirely possible that a reorg has already happened.  But, if it hasn't, do I really want to go there??

Anyway... I'm anxious and nervous....

Sorry for being so long...

For some reason, I can spell (2.00 / 10)
but my handwriting is so bad that it was hard to tell until I learned to type (yeah, I'm old, I meant type, not keyboard).

Good luck with the interview!

"Most people worry about their own bellies and other people's souls when we all ought to worry about our own souls and others' bellies" Israel Salanter

[ Parent ]
I can relate strongly to this: (2.00 / 13)
I don't like normal people.  I never have.

I have known very few "normal" people, but to a one I found them exceedingly boring and bland. Weirdness is the spice of life (or one of them, anyway).

Most of my favorite people are wonderfully weird.

I was definitely a weird kid. I've had whacked sleep issues my entire life. I always wanted to roleplay "weird" things, and my ideas about good storytelling never meshed with those of other children. Some years in elementary school I had friends... others I was ostracized and relentlessly made fun of. Some psychologist diagnosed me with Generalized Anxiety Disorder. I had social anxiety for sure. Middle and high school were actually better for me. My weirdness is not the sort that always prevents me from "faking it" in public. I learned to be a chameleon. (And that is a skill I still use daily even now.) But I always felt (often still feel) like an outsider... looking in at people and things and relationships I couldn't really understand.

My weirdness started really giving me trouble again when I was about 17. I got a bit "wilder" than is "normal" for a kid my age, and I ended up scaring the crap out of people. Much of my "acting out" was related to undiagnosed bipolar disorder (I received my diagnoses at age 19) and self-medication. Getting (and keeping) my meds straight enough to keep my moods (and behaviors) in check is an ongoing process... in constant flux. My first psychiatrist didn't work out so well, and I almost didn't walk away from that. My current psychiatrist -- who I saw today actually... and who adjusted my meds yet again -- is a lifesaver (quite literally in my case). Maintaining my mental health is a never-ending task... one which involves a brilliant psychiatrist, an understanding therapist, a loving family, and patient friends.

Through every form of instability (mental, emotional, financial, situational) I have faced, people have stood by me. Weird people, for the most part, who probably knew better but simply didn't care. From emotional turmoil to financial crisis to medication noncompliance to on-again off-again struggles with substance abuse/dependence to bipolar relapses (in the form of manic, depressed, and mixed episodes at varying times) to drastic attempts at self-destruction... and through so much more... people who love(d) me have had my back.

If any were reading I would say... thank you.

I am a lucky woman. Still weird though.

Thanks for the brilliant diary.

You do sound fabulously "weird"... and that is one of the very highest compliments I can pay anyone. ;)

Come to me in my dreams, and then
By day I shall be well again!
For so the night will more than pay
The hopeless longing of the day.

High School Reunion (2.00 / 9)
I went to my 50th high school reunion a while back and reconnected with two women who lived in my neighborhood when we were kids.

They were normal, and when we went to lunch together any properly weird observer would have fallen over laughing. Everything I said about my life was off their radar. They tried to react "normally" and couldn't find a way.

Later, my friend and I were looking at our college yearbook. I pointed to an old boyfriend and said something like "I should have lost my virginity with him, it was a mistake that we didn't make love." She was shocked.

I think I said something else touching on love and sexuality and in response to her scandalized look all I could say was "But I never married." I have no idea what she was thinking.

Let there be light. Then let there be a cat, a cocktail, and a good book.

[ Parent ]
Beautiful diary (2.00 / 11)
The difference between weird and eccentric (or unique) is usually about $1,000,000.

The question of how we understand difference, which must be respected, and disability, which must be accommodated, is often quite sticky.  I think one of the flash-points for this is the debate over cochlear implants, where some non-hearing people oppose them.  Personally, if I had a deaf child and knew of a way for them to hear, I wouldn't scruple much over disrespecting or threatening deaf culture.  But it doesn't mean that I don't think it's an interesting question.  We can all list great achievements that depended on their agents' disabilities, or at least what we might call a disability in someone else.  

But as for me, I'm definitely bald and not folicly understated.  And though I'm fine with my baldness at this point, all things being equal, I'd prefer not to have lost all my hair by my mid 20s.

Thanks for this thoughtful piece.  The Moose is definitely enriched of late.

The future is unwritten

On being weird (2.00 / 11)
While I do not bear any commonly classified learning disabilities (other than ADD, which is a self-diagnosis I have never sought help with [and a "disorder" that I don't find disorderly]) I have spent most of my life singled out as different.

I'm smart.

Not that I believe there is a single, linear way to measure "smartness", the base reality has been that I am often enough or perhaps always the smartest person in the room. At the start of the third grade when the other kids were reading SRA cards I wrote a report on a novel I had read the night before (bad idea, teacher made an example of me, kicking off the big round of bullying). In the twelfth grade at an alternative school my math teacher - who was very nice - had me take a comprehensive IQ test, and then wasn't ever really comfortable around me again.

While this is an advantage in many things and as such nothing anyone wants to hear me complain about, it nonetheless consistently sets me apart from those around me and is the source of most of my life's grief. I didn't ask for it, it isn't my fault, I don't want a cookie for it and often wish I wasn't.

In school this led to bullying and ostracization of various levels from outright torture to never fitting in with any group. As an adult the downsides are not so extreme, but it keeps me from ever fully finding a home with other people.

I moved a lot as a kid, which gave me chances to intentionally remake myself in attempts to fit in. At 11 I started hanging out with the cool kids (pot heads), grew my hair long and as much as possible dropped my grades. After my parents divorced when I was 16 I dropped out and got a job at a printing plant and worked there six years. Late in that period one of my bosses told me I "don't belong here", which I know he meant well by but I didn't have anywhere else to go and cast me into a another depression.

When years later I had done some college and gotten into the computer industry I expected to finally find myself among folks who would be comfortable with me. While it has been much more satisfying on an intellectual level, in a world where intelligence actually counts for something I often find myself in awkward positions. A lot of people have built their self-image around being the smartest person in the room and do not always take kindly to any evidence to the contrary.

I know that I now know people outright smarter than I am, at least it isn't likely that I top any ultimate list. It is a very small crowd of weirdos, though, and we all recognize in each other the same struggles. Many of us are challenged at socializing, I suspect the truly smartest don't socialize well enough to be known. There isn't a lot of sympathy thrown our way, picking on the smart kid has the same acceptability of picking on the rich ones. But we didn't do this to ourselves.

So, yeah, I'm weird. And it's a weird that you generally can't ever talk about without making it worse (pompous ass).

John Askren - "Never get into a pissing match with a skunk."

Wow. Are you me? :) (2.00 / 6)
Yeah, I break IQ tests, and went well past "Dick And Jane" when I was about 3. I actually had a 4th grade teacher brag--to the class--how astounding my IQ test was. Yeah, that helped.

I went to a private, very competitive high school on scholarship, which helped, but I also started the undiagnosed depression in high school--and, I now know, one of the effects of my particular depression was to sap my concentration, which made me, well, not so smart. Not academically.

In an interesting twist, however, being the smartest guy in class when you go back to college in your forties is actually fun. The kids don't see me as a peer, because of the age difference, so they don't resent me. It's kind of neat to actually get asked for help from a classmate :).

[ Parent ]
Howdy pardner! (2.00 / 4)
Yeah, the competitive part is a triple-edged sword. I lost most of that myself when my father abandonded me (there is divorce, and then there is abandonment...). Before that I feared finding someone smarter than me and losing my one trump card, after that I more often felt alone and wishing someone else could take the reins away for a while.

The math teacher in 12th grade hit me hard, because I looked up to him and felt something of a father-figure from him. It wasn't long after my own dad left, and taking that test I wanted to make him proud. Once he got the results he wasn't the same again, he lost the twinkle in his eye. It was clear by that point that I wouldn't be hearing from my dad. I pretty well quit school after that.

I realize that through my career I have sought that same thing, a father figure who is smarter than I am and can take some of the load off (a funny twist of the knife about being hyper bright is you always know too much about why you do things. Turns out knowing doesn't really help.). At the moment I have to admit I feel that way about a business colleague, the guy whose 1979 thesis paper defined the potential for computer viruses.

Another bitch about the whole thing is that folks expect you to be right about things. One of the things that bugs me about many very bright folks is that they believe they are, too. As you are probably fully aware, being unusually apt at thinking in many ways decreases certainty, at least if one are honest with oneself. I hear people making absolute assertions and I always have to think, "how do you know??!! I think about this shit a lot, and I'm not at all certain!".  All the big issues in life are complex as fuck, and the more you think about them the more you worry if it is possible to be certain of anything, ever.

So, yeah, I cried when I saw Little Man Tate. Frightened kid with too much understanding. My older daughter is like that, too, and I worry about her. I watch Good Will Hunting when I need a good cry, too. Hits very close to home.

John Askren - "Never get into a pissing match with a skunk."

[ Parent ]
Oh, yes, about the uncertainty (2.00 / 2)
This is heightened in my case, by the fact that....well, although I can be analytical, and did well in science and math, it's not my passion. I'm back in school to become an English teacher, and I'm a writer. The creative side wins out. As does the Literature Nerd side, and literature has no right answers :).

Luckily, I can impress people by often being right with whole piles of useless facts :)

[ Parent ]
What a great read (2.00 / 8)
thank you plf515

I've always been a quiet fan of yours, plf (2.00 / 9)
Not sure you knew that, but now you do. We could use more of your kind of weird in the world.

Thanks for this. I'm so grateful you climbed back in.

Holy moly! (2.00 / 5)
I'm putting in my vote for best diary ever from you. Wow! just Wow!

Come visit us at our NON political blog jellybeansofdoom.com

Told y'all it's great! [self-satisfied smile] (2.00 / 6)

"Do your little bit of good where you are; it is those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world." ~ Desmond Tutu

[ Parent ]
Yeah well (2.00 / 5)
I'll nominate you for the "understatement of the year" award. Damn.  

Come visit us at our NON political blog jellybeansofdoom.com

[ Parent ]
If I blushed, I'd be blushing (2.00 / 7)
but I don't, so I'm not.  

"Most people worry about their own bellies and other people's souls when we all ought to worry about our own souls and others' bellies" Israel Salanter

[ Parent ]
I am the parents (2.00 / 5)
of a "weird" adult child.  It has and still causes me such pain to see him struggle.  Any advice that you wish your parents had known?  What can I do for him?

That would depend on what his weirdnesses are (2.00 / 4)
and what he is struggling with.

One thing is to know that what is difficult for you may be easy for him, and what is easy for you may be very difficult or even impossible for him.  

"Most people worry about their own bellies and other people's souls when we all ought to worry about our own souls and others' bellies" Israel Salanter

[ Parent ]
this diary is a total keeper (2.00 / 1)
beautifully written. plf515, you know my nephew has autism? he lives with us.  i cannot wait until he's old enough to read this.  your story has a power to inspire a very lonely little boy. one who will giggle when he reads:

I don't like normal people.  I never have.

the absolute worst insult in our house is "n*rmal." somebody wants to start up a war? call someone that word. now we might say someone has bad manners, or a bad temper, and lots of folks are mean.  but when you start thinking about the "ormal with an N," that's brutal. ;)

Twitter Doesn't Make You Martin Luther King


Advanced Search

Make a New Account



Forget your username or password?

Blog Roll
Angry Bear
Angry Black Lady
Balloon Juice
Black Kos
Booman Tribune
Charles P. Pierce
Crooks and Liars
Daily Kos
Five Thirty Eight
Huffington Post
Juan Cole
Maddow Blog
P.M. Carpenter
Political Wire
Scholars & Rogues
Stonekettle Station
Talking Points Memo
The Field
Washington Monthly
Moose With Blogs
Canadian Gal
Charles Lemos
Cheryl Kopec
Curtis Walker
Douglas Watts
Hubie Stubert
Intrepid Liberal
John Allen
National Gadfly
Peter Jukes
Senate Guru
Zachary Karabell

Back to Top

Posting Guidelines  |  FAQ  |  Privacy Policy  |  Contact the Moose  |  Contact Congress
Powered by: SoapBlox