I am up until midnight pacing nonstop. It is not just because of nervousness. I had the “brilliant idea” to sleep for about six hours in the evening hoping this would force me awake around one a.m. to prepare for my speech the rest of the night. As I lay wide-awake I realize how disastrous the plan actually was. For one thing, I only slept for three hours and then could not fall back to sleep. But tomorrow will be different and there just does not seem to be enough time to prepare.
At this point in my career I am essentially on “public oration autopilot.” I tell exactly the same jokes and anecdotes because ninety-nine percent of the audience is brand new. The material is always fresh and when it ain’t broke…you do not fix it. Tomorrow morning I will be talking about a subject that has continuously devastated my life, but am at a loss for the most eloquent words to convey the message to a middle school audience.
Tomorrow morning at eight a.m. I shall be giving an anti-bullying presentation to my old middle school packed with ghosts from the past. I’ll see different faces, but some of the same malicious souls inhabiting these shells. For someone on the autism spectrum, middle school is a veritable House of Horrors. They try to survive with a disability so mild it just makes them seem like a “Super Geek” who is pleading for torment. Perhaps there were times when I used inappropriate behavior to exacerbate the bullying just because the other alternative was to be completely ignored. There is “no form of communication that cries out with more agony than silence.”
I continue to type while watching YouTube at the same time. YouTube and DVDs helped me write my book, but slows the creative muses….I mean, juices, down. It just makes it possible to get started when you don’t want to work if you associate the strife with authentic entertainment. (Right now, as I compose this blog entry I am watching Eric Cartman perform his German dance in the old South Park Movie Trailer).
I have always been a huge fan of nostalgia, which is probably why YouTube appeals to me. Most obscure emblems from my childhood can be accessed at a moment’s notice. I’m also a huge fan of nostalgia, which is not traditionally nostalgia. It is also important to occasionally resurrect pain especially if there is a chance to stop it for others.
Tomorrow I will tell the young audience about what bullying has done to my life. I will let them know there is a huge difference between teasing and downright bullying. There was not much happiness at Arlington Middle School and I hope they will leave with more pleasant memories. I’ll let them know that bullying did not get much better as an adult and just took a different form. Oppression does not necessarily have to entail someone beating the living #$*@! out of a victim just because they are vulnerable and/or different.
I am expecting a lot (maybe too much) from hundreds of middle schoolers at eight o’clock in the morning the last day before Thanksgiving vacation. But I have faith these faces will be different and they will know better this time…. I also do not believe in letting anything go and this is yet another opportunity to justify my beliefs.