On Santa Barbara

I will at some point do an entry on dating and aspies, probably a series, but let me pause here to give my voice on what happened on Santa Barbara. Because this touches on a feeling I see a lot in the community.*   This entry does touch on some cultural analysis which is why I’m putting it behind a jump for those disinterested in hearing such material.

The sad part was, I had hoped this was, if not off topic, at an angle from on topic. And it’s all too on topic.

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Some quick housecleaning

Well, thank you all so much for a great day one! I’m hoping to have an entry up on my freshman year of college in a week. But it hit me I needed to note a few things as I get going.

  • First up, if you enjoy this site, give my podcast The Film Room a listen. I cohost it with my friend Albert Wiltfong. It, like this site, is largely biweekly project. We’re about to record a cast on Godzilla (2014) tomorrow. (1)
  • Follow me on twitter! I’m @untitleduser
  • I also post reviews to The B-Movie Message Board as untitled user. These will occasionally reference works I deal with on this site. 

More to come!

On Anger

I have severe issues with anger.  Very severe. They have followed me my whole life. I fear on some level they will eternally.

I do not pretend this comes as a shock to a single person reading this. Many of you have witnessed my outbursts. Most have been targets. The truth is my issues with rage are less a dirty little secret and more of a blotchy disfigurement that I bear. They are the single most traumatic part of my life and the most painful manifestation of Asperger Syndrome. And yet, until today, I’ve never written about them in any real depth if at all. Why?

It’s simple. I’m horribly ashamed of this side of me. I struggle to reconcile it with the other pieces of me. How does a strident intellectual who graduated with honors justify falling to pieces an hour after graduation. Which happened. That’s the first of a lot of admissions ahead, I concede. Yes, within an hour of graduation with those gold tassels, I was throwing a screaming hissy fit. That was my final act on my college campus. I have to live with that.

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The Magic of the Bike

To a child, a bike is the first thing they have that will give them the freedom to venture beyond their home. It’s our first tool to get out and go. There’s something almost mythical about the power that a bicycle conveys. At least that’s how it was when I was a kid. It’s clear to me now how much more restrictive parents are. The culture just doesn’t seem as encouraging of the explorer spirit in kids anymore. And that’s a shame.

As I write this, it occurs to me that the story I’ll be telling runs counter to the standard AS narrative. We aren’t athletes and I wasn’t any exception. We’re awkward and have definite issues in motion. You wouldn’t associate us with getting up on a Saturday and biking 10-15 miles miles in 95 degree heat or conversely below freezing temps. But that was pretty much the norm for me. I used to ride my bike 5 miles a day just as a norm! Why did I do it? Well, I was then and am now an extreme pragmatist. I needed to get to the bookstores and various other locations. My bike was my tool. So I just did. No thought to it.

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Why my happy place is the Main Library in Little Rock

If there is a constant in life, it’s change. The things we loved as a kid are never quite the same as an adult. Many of the places that I loved have gone away. The arcades and bookstores in the malls? Gone. The theaters in Conway? One replaced and one closed. The used bookstores? Gone. There are so many places that I loved that simply aren’t there anymore.

And so it stands to reason I write this piece on the one place that has never ceased being a haven for me. Oh, It’s changed. The layout in that building is ever in flux. But the things I sought there have yet to change. The reasons for going there are in many ways the same. And the opinion I hold on it remains the same.

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How Being A Geek Saved My Life

Being a geek saved my life.

I’m sure that to many, that might seem like an exaggeration. It’s not. I honestly don’t know how else to describe the period in my life from August 1996 to May 1999 if not that way. Oh, not that I stopped. Visit my house after all. I had an Avengers groom’s cake. I’m choosing to focus on that period though because it begins, more or less, with my introduction to Star Wars and ends with The Phantom Menace. And more to the point it begins middle school and ends it. Middle school was a nightmare.

If my life were as neat and orderly as a hollywood film, then I would know nothing of the major geek world until the start of my story but that’s implausible in this culture and it sure ask hell didn’t work that way. I was definitely what you would call a dabbler. Biggest area of dabbling was The X-Files. I watched that show quite avidly. But yeah, I’d read the occasional comic book. (1) I had read novelizations of The Death of Superman and Batman: Knightfall. (2) I knew a tiny bit about Star Wars and Star Trek through cultural osmosis. I’d read FoxTrot though hell if I got the references. Loved the strip then and now btw. So yes, I was primed to become an intense geek. I just wasn’t there.

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Who Am I

My name is Austin Shinn and I have Asperger Syndrome. And I have to admit, I am not a fan of how my disorder looks on the internet. I’m not. I’m not a fan of sites like Wrong Planet. I’m not a fan of the attitude I see towards the syndrome in those communities. Looking at the media, I see my disorder treated as almost hopeless and I refuse to accept that. My goal here is to be a voice for those of us with the disorder who see the challenge the world has given us and choose to fight back. I admit most of my posts here will be autobiography. I’m not trying to present myself as a perfect role model. Just the opposite. I am a normal guy fighting the struggle, And I refuse to quit.

Tonally, this will be a mix, as is life. But I want to point to the good moments especially. To talk about what I love. Maybe I have to deal with the struggles but there is always light in the dark.

Personal details you should know? I’m 30. I work in a job I love at an employer I love. I went to college for journalism and graduated with honors. I’m happily married. I love movies and comics. My life is good. Getting here? That’s the journey. So let’s go.

My plan is to do an entry a week. Longer form entries will probably be one every two weeks. I might post a big broad entry on a topic but don’t be shocked if I narrow in on a specific element later. Our brains are fractured in that way so why not write like we think? That kind of goes along with the title of the blog. A Flickering Life refers to both film, since I am a film buff above all else, and our mindset.