Saturday, December 18, 2010

Exorcising Old Demons from my Middle School

As of right now, my new YouTube video is now making its way across the nation via passionate people posting it on their Facebook pages and e-mailing it like wildfire.  To those people, I offer my lifelong and most sincere appreciation.  If this video goes viral then it will be because of YOU and not just my public oration skills.  I am also blessed to have the ability to work with a loyal publicist named, Victor Gulotta.  Mr. Gulotta is generously donating his services to my campaign long after his contractual obligations have expired.  He is just one of many neurotypical (non-autistic) individuals who have made a profound difference in my life by believing in my efforts.  The link of my YouTube video is or you may just type in Jesse Saperstein on the YouTube search engine.  A photo of me wearing a court jester hat will immediately show up!

“We need to dwell on the horror of the past only to ensure the present will be a gift.”  On a less poetic note, I have never believed in letting anything go.  I believe in going back whether it is a day or fourteen years later to fix something that is probably still broken.  The date of Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010 lingers in my mind as a day of catharsis.  I chose to return to my old middle school where I attended from 1994 to 1996.  It is the same edifice that housed demons from the past, but it would not be fair to displace those demons upon these new, innocent students.  They had nothing to do with that ancient torment in my life, but I must assume the bullying from the distant past still lingers within these new human shells.  The mission of my speech is to eradicate it like a forest ranger stamping out a dying campfire.

It definitely helped that I am friends with the new Arlington Middle school principal who has always believed in my endeavors.  Rich Carroll who is as committed toward fighting bullying as any administrator I have ever met before in my life.  He understood the video had to be filmed in a timely fashion and worked diligently with me to make the arrangements.  If Mr. Carroll has been my principal in those difficult days of yore then perhaps my time at Arlington Middle School would have been different.  Or maybe not.  Back then, I do not believe administrators knew the true deadliness of bullying especially since the nightmare of cyber bullying barely even existed.  Bullying was still seen as a right of passage.  I look back on those days and sometimes wonder whether my torment would have been dramatically alleviated if I had punched one of my classmates in the nose as hard as possible.  A weight would have been lifted as I watched blood spew from that orifice and braced for a much worse beating.  But the bruises would have healed with minimal emotional scars.  I could have won or lost, but it could have ended because most bullies are cowards.  They will not usually target someone if they know that individual will strike back with brute force.  I believe in diplomacy, but it often failed miserably in those days.  This is the beauty of this day and age.  We take torment seriously and it is not necessary for violence to beget violence.

Mr. Carroll and I had faith in the students of Arlington Middle School from the very beginning and exercised only a modicum of caution.  For example, Mr. Carroll suggested I not tell the students my speech would be on YouTube for fear that one of the students would seize the moment to get his fifteen minutes of fame.  For some reason, the Internet provokes people to act as a “Snookie-like clown.”  I probably misspelled her name, but who cares.

My expectations were high for middle school students at eight o’clock in the morning the last day before Thanksgiving.  But the students certainly rose to the occasion and I am proud of them!  They ended my presentation with a climactic standing ovation and were not the same faces that would have been staring back at me fourteen years ago.  Their enthusiasm will now be broadcast around the nation and will set an example.  I am confident the admiration they extended toward me will be delegated toward the Jesse Andrew Saperstein’s of present times…

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Jesse’s Ten-Year High School Reunion

Perhaps I have watched too many TV shows and movies about the much-anticipated high school reunion.  They usually come in increments of ten years and essentially function as a way of absolving any regrets or residual anger.  Most of us say we have no interest in attending, but we all know that is a lie.  We claim we have let go, but the poison is in the wound as the protagonist from “Lolita” once stated in that literary masterpiece.  We want and deserve a second chance for redemption.  A second high school prom, if you will.  I move forward into the holiday chaos and look back on that date just one day after Thanksgiving on Friday, November 26th, 2010.

I asked a high school acquaintance whether she was planning on attending and she responded without missing a beat, “What for?  To show everyone what I have not accomplished over the ten years.”  I looked into her eyes and saw the beaten down gaze of someone who had been tossed around by the post-high school Gods.  Like a single soul relentlessly thrashed about by waves commandeered by a vengeful Poseidon.  I spent most of my post-high school years taking a perpetual holiday in Loserville, but things eventually fell into place in time for my return to the metaphorical halls of Arlington High School.  There is solace in knowing that some of my 600-plus classmates who sometimes referred to me as a loser lack a published book to brag about.  High school reunions are about vindication and closure.

I just mentioned that high school reunions function as a second prom resurrected like a phoenix sprung from its ten-year dormancy.  But…reality has a different agenda and I’ve been watching too many TV and movies about the glamorous reunions when those bitter pieces fall back into place.  And even by reality’s standards, my reunion was totally lame.

The invitation informed me the event started at 8:00 p.m. and being a typical individual on the autism spectrum, I showed up a few minutes before eight without any concept of being fashionably late.  The room at the Poughkeepsie Grand Hotel was too small and I was the first one to show up.  Slowly people began to trickle in and compliment the balloons and stars smothered with pounds of glitter.  One by one.  And then the traffic stopped.  Barely thirty people chose to attend my high school reunion and not all of these guests were even from my high school.  My foreign date was Shannon Lashlee who became my devoted friend after she hired me to work at her funeral home while conducting the interview and preparing one of the “clients” at the same time.

I told people that I could have just saved about $140.00 by skipping the whole affair and just made an appearance at one of the local bars where there were more high school acquaintances than at the actual reunion a few blocks away.  But that is not the point.  I enjoyed the people I was with and it could have gone the other extreme.  We regret the things we do not do and are haunted ten times more.  Even in these desperate economic times, money is still a replenishable entity as opposed to skipping.

I could have been practical and assumed the reunion would be lame like the 550 classmates who wisely chose to skip the expensive night.  Then…I would grovel for what I wanted to hear and be told how magical the night turned out by a well-meaning classmate.  “You should have attended, Jesse!  At least eighty percent of our class showed up and some people asked about you.  They heard about your book and are very proud of your accomplishments.  I am so glad I chose to go myself because the bitterness I had nursed for ten years melted away.  Don’t worry, though.  There will be another reunion in about ten years and you will have another chance…”  The few people who did show up had fiercely augmented the magic of that night and this was enough.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Late-Night Tasks and LISTIES

I still live at home so it is a natural given that I have inherited all the chores nobody else in the family wants to do.  Nighttime is the absolute best time to conquer such misery in the crisp night.  I walked outside in my pajamas with a coat over my t-shirt and acknowledged the official start of winter.  I am fairly sure we have seen the absolute last of unseasonably warm winter days that emit haunting reminders of global warming.  Monday is garbage day, but this painful chore is now completed on Saturday night.  I learned my lesson a few weeks ago when I had to run out in my boxer shorts at five or six a.m. to just barely meet the garbage men who pretended it was normal to see deranged, obsessed men so early in the morning.  I hope nothing was exposed, but try not to think about it…

LISTS!!  Life and daily chores now exist in the form of countless lists.  Old lists and new lists.  Three tasks have already been crossed off the list created a couple of hours ago because the busy work always gets crossed off first.  Those tasks that take half a day to vanquish or require tons of mental energy always seem to linger.  There are always those tasks that never get crossed off because they are a long-term project or I had attempted to take on too much in such a short time.

Life as a professional writer has become overwhelming and there is never enough time to get everything done.  Just not enough hours of the day and I wonder how it was once possible to waste so much time watching re-runs of Full House without multi-tasking with something constructive.  Were there actually those childhood days of yore in which I played the Bart Simpson game with that crude, primitive Super Nintendo animation?  For hours and hours?

Success definitely has a price and I will be up all night answering e-mails after a huge fight with my family.  They let me know that my web site has been destroyed by negligence and I realize how much effort it will take to build it back up.  But this is what it will take to accommodate everyone and everything.  I think it was Thomas Edison who did not believe in sleep because he believed it was a waste of time.

There will hopefully be much more of an incentive to stay awake within the near future.  In just a couple of days my YouTube video will be sent to every media outlet in the country in hopes of putting an end to this constant nonsense that ruins lives.  The bullying where kids see no hope in sight and believe taking their own lives is the only escape.  Speaking of bullying, it is at night when those demons usually come to surface and the perfect weapon is to keep busy.  I do not deserve to be so haunted forever and my mission is to prevent others from the same fate.  There was too much pain for such a long time and it took writing a book for so much of it to end.  And why should someone have to possess a disability in order to be treated with mercy?  What is wrong with just being a little weird without a disability to justify tolerance?