Bad Therapy & Good Gender Discussion

I remain convinced that people know what they need but are blocked from getting it. Whenever I try to discuss my lack of love life with health professionals, and often with others, they simply refuse to hear certain facts, they make false assumptions, they lay blame, they ignore facts and evidence, they suggest strategies they know have failed me, and they refuse to hear me when I repeatedly tell them exactly what I need: dating social skills for adults with autism. I sent my new therapist the CBC news clip about the UCLA training program. I explained all the relevant bits of my history I could get in and what I’ve seen on autism websites/in autism groups and what an exclusive match it is. He (I finally managed to get a male therapist, and there’s a male perspective that women just don’t get around straight dating) is still suggesting things I’ve already done, focusing on imagined issues I don’t have (e. g. shyness), suggested DBT–which is fine but hardly helps with dating, is trying to advise me about what to do on a date when the problem is that I can’t get one, is giving me insights I needed 20 years ago but already told him how I discovered myself (the long list of opportunities I would’ve availed myself of except that I had no idea at the time that they were staring me in the face), and acts like I know what to do but can’t or won’t do it. No matter how many times I come back to autism and the unwritten rules and non-verbal communication of NT culture and dating, he won’t address it. Nor will he argue against it. He just changes the subject away from it. He suggests there are different kinds of flirting, dismisses the seduction/pickup “artists” as if sex isn’t or shouldn’t be what I want (why not??), and talks about optimism and confidence–as if you just inject that from a tube you get at the store after a lifetime of being ignored, rejected, led on, abused, systematically crushed and traumatized.

Why do health professionals consistently behave this way? Ockham’s Razor rules out malice. In fact, the therapist said he thinks I’m a likeable guy and should be able to get a girlfriend (which pretty much all my therapists have said). I told him, as I have believed from observation for many, many years; that I’d make a better boyfriend than 90% of the ones out there. I constantly see women with awful men who mistreat them but fit the cultural mold better than I do. They act this way because they are totally clueless. This therapist admitted to me before that he really knew nothing about autism and would have to learn along with me. So of course he doesn’t know what the needs or available resources are–the latter because THERE ARE NO RESOURCES FOR US. But none of them want to admit this. That’s why he neither listens to me nor argues that autism isn’t the issue. They are afraid to say they don’t know and pretend the emperor wears beautiful robes (Kim Jung Un?). They are unwilling to follow the science and either say no one has figured out the answer for us, or that we have a good idea what it would be but don’t have it available. So the default plan is to waste a lot of time, money, effort, and emotional turmoil–for which the blame will all be put on the patient when it finally comes to a head–chasing whatever strategies or programs or resources they DO know about or have available, no matter how irrelevant. The idea there is to run out the clock stalling for time until something becomes available. I’m unable to go along with that.

Also today, I went to a Happiness Initiative event that turned out to be really great, and I wish I could’ve spent the whole day. There was a beautiful young woman there who said some things that positively thrilled me about the constraining, unhealthy gender roles men are forced into; the social, emotional, substance, criminal, and physical problems they cause; how both men and women feed each other to perpetuate patriarchy while both suffer from it; how it feeds rape culture; how men aren’t supposed to be or appear weak, sensitive, vulnerable, or emotional…and the woman whose presentation she was responding to had already said how men were really the key in feminism and gender equality (she’s focused on gender inequality in the home). I don’t think I’d heard women say these things since I was in college! For an amazing change of pace, I could sit back and agree instead of having to be the one issuing strategy and warnings that get me misunderstood and ostracized. (Why is there no feminist equivalent of the seduction/pickup community? How can you achieve equality between two groups of people if you don’t involve both, and how can you expect to appeal to men if you don’t also listen to and address their legitimate gender concerns?)

So this was a kind of small group training, and tomorrow is part of their conference, which I can also attend. I’m not sure whether to try to connect with this girl. 1) Chances are she’s significantly younger than I think, and 2) Basically every woman I pursue after meeting in real life turns out to be unavailable. Or 3) I get one of the standard online dating results: being ignored, rejected, or led on. But she’s on my mind as she was very pretty AND demonstrated a true understanding and fairness about gender.

UPDATE: This was a couple weeks ago. I gleaned the beautiful young feminist’s email from a group message we all got after the training. From that I quickly learned that she is about 26 and got married last year. And has cats. 🙂 Egged on by a couple friends, I replied all to the email and expressed my enthusiasm for what she and another woman had said. But contrary to my friends’ predictions, I never heard from her–in the group or individually. So it’s a good thing I didn’t try to flirt with or date her. She is still beautiful.

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The Case of Liz C (2002-2016)

I’m going to tell you a story.

In 2002, a very attractive young woman moved into an apartment down the hall from me. Like most of us who went to DC from elsewhere, she was smart, driven, ambitious, and successful. She had a neat job working on a public broadcast show I really like. I developed a crush on her. But for some reason she never seemed to be around, and I hardly ever ran into her in the building. Once each in the elevator and laundry room, but this is when I was still extremely shy. Of course she never said anything to me either. For weeks I did my laundry at the same time and day hoping to see her again, but no luck.

I was on the Board of Directors of the building, and for a while in 2003 we had an idiotic president who attacked me on the building’s email listserv. Not long after that, this girl came up to me in the Metro one morning as I was waiting for my Red Line train and said she strongly supported me, before quickly leaving for the other end of the platform. It was a nice boost, and I took it to mean she actually knew who I was. I resolved to ask her out. And I did. Or at least I thought I did. I believe I sent her an email, since I never got a chance to see her in person despite living about 60 feet apart. I told my therapist and was advised that I may not have been clear enough, and the girl may not have realized what I was asking. So I got a greeting card, asked her out more explicitly in pen, and slid it under her door. At the same time, unbeknownst to me, a friend in the building who saw her a lot told her what a great guy I was and suggested she go out with me. This surely looked coordinated or creepy, and I never heard a peep from her. Shortly after that, I noticed on Friendster that she added a boyfriend.

A few years later, in Montreal, I was watching the show she worked on when the host announced her departure and recognized her on air. I sent her a short email of well wishes. No response.

In 2014 I saw on Facebook that she was back home, in the Pacific Northwest. I sent her a short message apologizing for the clumsy/creepy ask out attempt, pointed out several things we had in common, and wished her a Merry Christmas. No response (Facebook showed that she saw my message).

This April, after basically giving up on Facebook and caring who knows what or expecting anything here, I sent her a friend request. To my shock, she accepted it. I messaged her to thank her and said I was pleasantly surprised. No response (again, Facebook showed that she saw my message).

I learned that she is back in DC and about a year older than me. And still very attractive. My heart sank when I saw a post she made about Linked In and said it suggested ex-boyfriends as connections to her. I have no exes, nor money or a successful career or popularity like her. She never interacted with any of my posts, so I tried to comment very sparingly on hers. There weren’t many. She only ever responded to a remark about food (Kerrygold makes the best butter; Tilamook is best at ice cream). Then I noticed that she had deleted me. I messaged her to ask if I’d offended her. No response.

This is just another classic example of what happens to me in trying to date–I never had a chance. None of it is in my control or influence. I am almost always ignored, led on, or rejected–and I can’t change any of those. I can’t even get any kind of explanation. I don’t think there’s anything more or different I could have done; she simply never interacted with me. I am just not wanted; I am a surplus man in a culture where men are the demand, and women are the supply. Yes, that is crass and horrible. Yes, that is economic and capitalist. But it is true. There is nothing I can do and no hope of getting my needs met.

Most people don’t care, a few would like to help but can’t, and a tiny fraction of those will admit it (and then usually disappear). The King County-funded crisis clinic laughs at you and hangs up on you. The health clinics that take Medicaid have no one who knows autism. The support groups are for kids and their parents. The autism people at Children’s Hospital only help low-functioning adults and refuse out-of-hand to address dating. The UW autism center only does medication management and will not replicate a UCLA program since Washington and California autism researchers are rivals. The autism and Asperger’s websites, Meetup groups, and Facebook pages refuse to touch any question about relationships or sexuality. Same for the more general disability ones. The ones on sex education, research, and positivity won’t touch anything on people with disabilities. Tim Burgess, the former cop and closet Puritan who falsely conflates sex work and sex trafficking, keeps increasing penalties on “soliciting”. He has the ableist privilege and lack of empathy to assume everyone who pays for sex is a criminal who should be maximally punished. His office will not answer questions about people in my situation, he will not adjust any of his positions or policies, and he won’t read any of the books or watch any of the movies I’ve asked him to. If you’re suicidal, people call 911, which sends the police out to re-traumatize you, and potentially you get locked up as an inmate in a social service hospital. They won’t do anything to PREVENT suicidality–they won’t even listen to WHY your life is hell or what could make it better. On the contrary, they’ll complain that they don’t want to hear from you even if you’re answering their call to supposedly check on your suicidality. It’s a program that’s typically Seattle–pretty window dressing that does nothing substantive or helpful. So we are stuck. This is life in America in 2016.

P.S. I’m getting more matches on Tinder since changing my height to 6’3″ and saying I drive a Ferrari and have a trust fund.

How SHA Abuses its Own Tenants

It’s now been 3 months since I ordered ink for my new printer, but I still don’t have it–thanks to the still-broken callbox at my building that the Seattle Housing Authority won’t fix or give any information/answers about. They can’t tell us when it will be fixed, how we’re supposed to receive packages (while denying that they’ve blocked our ability to get them), and rather than generally informing residents, I was told last week that we’re supposed to go to their office in Queen Anne in person to find out what’s going on at our building–the lack of phone calls, emails, or paper/mailed newsletters or ad hoc notifications from them is as they think it should be. SHA just sees no reason to communicate with its residents. They take no responsibility for misinforming us (I spent a month chasing down the wrong contact person), or lost time or money (this ink costs 3-4 times more to buy offline). They said they’d call me back but haven’t. They routinely ignore us, requiring multiple attempts to ask questions, of multiple people, via multiple methods. They’re a big bureaucracy with a single huge switchboard phone system, so it’s hard to find out who you’re supposed to talk to–and emails and voicemails are rarely answered. I’ve contacted Rep. Adam Smith‘s office and Seattle City Council members seeking help contacting SHA, but I’m not hearing from them anymore either. Even SHA’s Board of Directors has no contact information on the website. No emails or phone numbers for the individual members (2 of whom are specifically designated to represent tenants), no general Board email address, no staff contact who can forward requests on to the Board. Just the same general mailing address. The Board meets monthly, but I was dog sitting in Burien and had to miss the August meeting.
 
The merchant says they’ve tried to ship my ink twice and thus can’t do anything else, like a refund or 3rd attempt. So I disputed the charge with my credit card and hope that will encourage them to compromise–I could pay the shipping for a 3rd delivery attempt if they’d agree to give the UPS driver my cell number (they refused before) or leave it at their Othello store as I’ve set up my preferences on MyUPS.
 
Meanwhile, I need to print things like my passport application and don’t want to use the library too much at 15 cents/page (this held up renewal of my disability transit pass). So I’m debating ordering another cartridge from someone else. Once I verify that the new printer prints, I can finally get rid of the old one.
 
We desperately need the Tenants Union to help us organize; it’s painfully clear that SHA only considers us to be nuisances to shoo away. As individuals, we have no power or recourse. In WA, you’re not allowed to withhold rent; they can (and will) evict you. The time, money, frustration, hassle, and emotional turmoil gratuitously forced on poor people is unconscionable and gradually wears you down. It’s time this country fought classism.

20 May 2016

It’s been a hell of a day–again. I met with the new client who’s looking for a couple dog walks a week. She’s four bus stops from me. We chatted for 3 hours. Pets, Asperger’s, health care, housing, transportation…and Ruby licked and cuddled me, though she’s kind of reactive. The client also just moved and has boxes for me. 🙂

Then I went back to Goodwill. The printer was still there! I even found a power cord to match. And a sturdier case for my dying phone for $2. I can’t get my phone out of it, but that seems secure in a way. I spent $31 total. The printer weighs 30 pounds, and the Car2Go home was another $17. Denny and parts of I-5 were congested. We could fix most of that with a Denny subway and highway tolls, but we don’t like to do tough or sensible things. The navigation on my phone is better than the car’s. Yet again, the trunk refused to open. After Goodwill I picked up my study materials to upgrade my ham license. The tests are updated every three years, and these are good to 6/30/19. I didn’t even know they’d tried to deliver the books, or that they weren’t coming USPS. The call box at my building only works for land lines. And this is 2008 construction. We dealt with call boxes and cell phones in 2002-04 when I was on my co-op board in DC. I’m going to see about getting that fixed.

On Capitol Hill I passed the shuttered Harvard Exit theater. It’s so sad. Such a great old building with countless memories. I took my Meetup group there on Christmas 2008 and saw Slumdog Millionaire. STG saved the Neptune, and SIFF saved the Uptown and Egyptian, but I guess our arts community lacked the resources to save this one (our millionaires don’t, but they spend only on their whims). Meanwhile SIFF is showing films in Kirkland, Shoreline, Renton, and Bellevue. Toronto (our rival in North America) does nothing like that–if you hurry you can get between all their venues on foot. I also passed the former diabetic-friendly Mexican restaurant Galerias. It was among my favorites here, but they had a fire and didn’t reopen. The first time I went there, a young woman was dressed up playing a harp. No one seemed to notice when she switched from classical music to Stairway to Heaven. Now it’s a Tex-Mex place called Rooster. :/ Our best Greek restaurant, Costas Opas, is gone too; replaced by a damn Chase bank branch–2 blocks from Lenin.

InterConnection is having a $30 sale on smartphones, but they’re old. So I saved a trip to Fremont. My health clinic just got my MRI results, but the doctor hasn’t analyzed them yet.

Shockingly, Bruce Harrell’s staff got back to me about the vacant lot next door. It’s fenced off, with intermittent barbed wire, and neglected to the point that it has 3-4 foot grass, and thorny branches poking out. Not the right message to send in the heart of the neighborhood. I asked who owns it because I want to see why it’s just sitting there, and at least get them to maintain it a bit in the interim so it’s not so ugly. So is it notorious slumlord Carl Haglund? A developer stuck in permitting? A rich guy who’s holding the land to sell when it’s worth more? Nope. It’s… The Seattle Housing Authority! What the hell?!? Are they waiting for the housing levy to pass before building something? We could really use 6 floors of affordable housing above shops and restaurants. (The zoning is 40 feet–stupidly–but we make exceptions all the time) This is crazy. I have to get to the bottom of it.

The new printer has no ink, but I managed to set it up after a long call with Filipino tech support. I’m blown away. It has features I’ve never seen in a printer. It’s a 2014 model; mine is 2007. It can automatically scan and print double sided, has a top feeder so I can scan much more quickly, two paper trays so I can do regular paper and envelopes for example, very low cost per page, can fit legal paper…I can even print over wifi from my phone! And I think it may be able to print remotely via iCloud. It’s a productivity boost I’ve needed for a long time. Money well spent.

I made some final tweaks to my info flyers for the bus stop out front and posted them in the shelter. Hopefully they’re helpful to riders. I still want to represent the information visually since many people here don’t speak English, but it’s great for now. I got another round of things from the house and can print the food stamp paperwork on my old printer until I get ink for the new one. I got my mail for the first time in 10 days and need to do laundry for the first time in 2 weeks. I walked 13,000 steps today. Tomorrow there’s still more to do before a brief sitting job in Greenwood.

19 May 2016

I met with the vets opening the Columbia City clinic. I think it went well. They invited me to their opening party next month and said I could bring a stack of business cards. They also might have a receptionist job in a while, though it would be full time and sounds stressful. At least they might keep me in mind when they’re ready to hire one. 

  1. I got a used water filter/tank and went to the disability law office to ask about doing some forms SSA sent. They said I can disregard them entirely! 😀

Then I called to check on my food stamp application. They already have at least 9 documents from me totaling 36 pages. But they want more! They want self-employment business statements that don’t exist. They want bank statements I already gave them (because they need more information, which is somehow gained by sending more copies of the same documents). And now that they’ve taken so long to process my application (April 22nd online), they want all my statements for April. They SAY that should be enough and my benefits should resume soon after they get this round of paperwork, and that my benefits will be retroactive to my application date. But I’ve also been told many times in the past that they never give retroactive benefits (like the Utility Discount Program, which I downloaded 6 forms to apply for). I have stable housing, no addictions, and no severe mental illnesses. If you were homeless, alcoholic, and untreated schizophrenic; how on EARTH could you navigate all these hurdles just to get money for groceries? It’s infuriating. 
Going to get my free ice cream and look for stuff at Goodwill, then pick up a few more things from the house to bring home. New client visit postponed to tomorrow. So far today, I’ve ridden the 2, 7, 36, and Link. (Update: the 10 and First Hill streetcar too)

Food Stamp Fraud? Yeah, Right!

I’m doing paperwork to get food stamps back. There’s a 1 page form I had to partially fill out then forward to the temp agency so they can sign that I haven’t worked for them since February. Monthly bank statements January-April 2016 for both my credit union (8 pages total) and my online bank (12 pages total). DSHS wants my self-employment income separated by month for the last year, so I’ll have to gather and print lots of PayPal records. Or perhaps my 17-page tax return for 2015. Then they want a copy of my new lease showing my rent (which I just found out today isn’t done). Each document has to have your Social Security number or Client ID number.
 
You can’t just email them PDFs–they don’t use email yet. You can fax them, but the free online fax services only let you send 1 page per day each, then you start paying. So I end up using slow, tree-killing snail mail.
 
All this to get a paltry benefit that doesn’t cover a month’s groceries, with a card that stigmatizes you as a food stamp recipient, heavily restricts what you can buy and where, isn’t getting a security chip, and doesn’t work in mobile/virtual wallets.
 
AND THEY’RE WORRIED ABOUT FRAUD??? It’s long past time this bureaucratic, complicated, uncoordinated, slow, inefficient, ineffective, classist, demeaning rigamarole got replaced by a simple guaranteed basic income for all.

Mansplaining Poetry

Yesterday a friend of mine posted a poem written by her best friend. I read it. It was about god and religion, and it seemed to be separating god from any specific religion. It said god wasn’t Jewish in a temple, Muslim in a mosque, etc. Not very long. All well and good. So I said it was nice but seemed more deist to me than atheist. (Sure, I’m an atheist, but I made no value judgement about that). I thought this was an innocent observation. After my friend and I exchanged a couple comments (she disagreed with me, based on knowing her friend’s intentions, but people don’t necessarily write what they intend or say what they mean), her best friend chimed in, “I see the mansplainers are up early this morning!” This was apropos of nothing. I made what I thought were innocuous rational statements about the poem, and now the poet was suddenly attacking me personally. Without making any effort to address the content. As is my habit when this happens, I questioned why she was answering substantive analysis with a personal attack. No answer. I then noted that it seemed to be my reward for trying to be nice to her. A few weeks ago, I’d sent her a friend request and emailed her an apology for a scuffle we got in a few years ago (unrelated to sexism). No response, but of course no good deed goes unpunished. Both of these women had planned to come to Seattle last month for a Bernie Sanders rally I was attending, and I’d been looking forward to seeing my friend and finally meeting her best friend, but they didn’t make it.

Now: the salt in the wound–I did a lot of feminist activism in college. I was the most prominent male feminist at my college. I was an officer in NARAL, served on the Women’s Task Force and Committee on the Status of Women where I helped write a stronger sexual assault policy, I minored in Women’s Studies when no other male was in the department, and I was the first guy invited to live in the Women’s House (I stupidly declined). It seemed pretty clear that I wasn’t doing all this for my own social benefit, because I not only didn’t have a girlfriend or dates; I think I only asked out one of the women I knew from feminist activism in 4 years. If anything, the prevailing assumption was that I was gay; people were surprised when they found out I was straight. There’s even evidence to suggest feminism hurts straight men in dating as sexism is still the norm and very much in demand–which deeply disillusions me.

I continued some of this work in DC. My boss was a congressional leader on domestic violence. My last job in DC was at a women’s organization, where I was the first man ever to work for them in DC and lobby for them. I worked on reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, marshalling similar groups to mobilize in support of it. I also worked on pay inequity, abortion rights, birth control access, child care, paid family/medical leave, poverty, Social Security…various issues that disproportionately affect women, which was the whole reason we got involved in them.

So I actually have more of a history in feminism than most men AND women, except that I’ve regrettably never been a woman, and I definitely feel like I pay the price for it without getting appreciated or whatever. (People seem to think I’m crazy, but if one goal is to get men to be more egalitarian, wouldn’t it make sense for women to favor feminist men over sexist ones, all else being equal? That doesn’t mean entitled to dates or sex or whatever nonsense people want to accuse me of saying, just that it’s often wise to reward what you want and punish what you don’t.) But none of that matters. Its total value is 0. Make one substantive point about one poem that the author doesn’t like, and BAM!–they can just throw an easy charge like mansplaining at you on the sole basis of…gender. Apparently the more strident/less informed feminists have come full circle; their mothers worked hard to refute the notion that biology is destiny, only to have our generation resurrect it with gusto. It’s enough to make you give up on working for just ideals and just be selfish. As a 12th grade friend said once, if you’re going to be punished for the crime anyway, why not commit it? 😦 People suck.