We watch everyday for the bus;
And the driver would say,
That’s where lunatics stay;
I wonder if he’s talking about us
Most people don’t like going to the supermarket, especially if it’s to do the big weekly shopping. However, it’s something that the vast majority of us have to do whether we want to or not. Many of us get on with it and get what we need with little fuss. However, for someone with a mental health issue, it can be like walking through a minefield.
The trigger for a meltdown while shopping in a large supermarket can come in various forms. With me, it is caused when I can’t find an item I am looking for. That starts it, however, while trying to locate said item, if there are a number of other shoppers in the aisle I’m in, the anxiety levels go up much higher. In my mind, these people are getting in my way and that makes the frustration of not being able to find what I’m looking for even worse. Thus, the anxiety levels go up even more. It doesn’t even have to be while doing a major shop, I could only be in the store to get a few things but if I can’t locate the item I seek in a crowded aisle, I could go into near meltdown. Sometimes, it’s all I can do to keep myself from exploding and going into a full swearing tangent.
Fortunately, I have a coping mechanism. While I don’t like to admit defeat, and I feel stupid for having to do so, if I can’t locate something after a few minutes, I will ask a store member for assistance. Of course, this doesn’t work if there are no store members around. My anxiety levels go up even more then.
Recently, my levels have been exacerbated when two of the stores I shop at the most have changed their stock all around. Both have done a major reshuffle and one of the things people with Asperger’s Syndrome need is consistency. Having to re-learn where everything is has been a rather frustrating experience for me because if they had left everything where it was, it would not have affected me so much. Even though both reshuffles occurred a couple of months ago, I still haven’t learned where certain things are by heart and struggle at times. This makes me inwardly curse the store and when the anxiety is high enough, want to burn the store down.
Another anxiety which can be worsened by large crowds in the area is when I am going through my shopping list to see if I’ve got everything. It sometimes seems that when I stop and check my list, there is someone behind me wanting to get past or they want something from the shelf by where I’m standing. Again, the levels go up drastically.
One problem with supermarkets that I did overcome is self service checkouts. I simply don’t use them. When I did, it seemed that something would go wrong and I have to seek assistance. This makes me feel stupid because I can’t figure out what I did wrong and now the shop staff have to help me. So, I don’t use the self service and that keeps the levels down. The other reason I don’t use self service is and this might horrify ultra conservatives in the UK and US and brand me a Marxist, because I want to keep cashiers in a job. I can’t help thinking, call it a conspiracy theory, that the major supermarket chains would like to get rid of all cashiers and have everyone use automated shopping. Until they do, I will keep going to a checkout worked by an actual human being.
So for me and many others with DAMP, Autism or Asperger’s Syndrome, shopping can be a nightmare. Supermarkets provide so many opportunities to trigger a meltdown. While I have never had one that is noticeable, others have and the response from people has been less than tolerant. Shame on them, not everyone can cope with things the same way and supermarkets and the public should be more understanding here.
To buy He Was Weird, go to: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Weird-Michael-Lefevre-13-Jun-2013-Paperback/dp/B013RPFKE0/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1524599202&sr=1-2&keywords=he+was+weird
One thing many people living in my adopted country of Great Britain can’t understand about my country of birth, the USA, is the American obsession with college sports. Thoughts about this came to mind while I was in the US last month. As it was March, the focus of sports in the US centered around the college basketball playoffs, which is properly nicknamed, “March Madness.” Just about every game was shown on TV and lots of talk generated around it. This was further aided by the fact that a local university, Villanova, located just outside Philadelphia, whose basketball team was not only playing in the March Madness, but was also the number one seed. However, this is not only true with the playoffs and basketball but other college sports as well. None more so with (American) football.
The United States and the United Kingdom have a different attitude towards sports in their university. This is blatantly obvious as American colleges pour loads more money into sports than British ones. Furthermore, except for the famous Oxford-Cambridge boat race, I’ve never seen any university sports televised in Britain. Still, it begs the question, why are Americans so obsessed with college sports? To try to answer this, I will look at the two biggest college sports, football and basketball.
For many in Britain, experience with American football begins and ends with the NFL. In fact, I admit that I had lost touch with college football until I began officiating the sport in the UK. That is because football leagues in Britain play by college (NCAA) rules. That might answer the question there because while NFL rules are centered around entertainment, the basic philosophy of college football is “Let players play.” One example of NFL rules being centered around entertainment is back in the late 1970s. The NFL felt that there weren’t enough punt returns happening in the games. Kicking teams were getting downfield too fast and preventing the receiving team from returning the punt. So what the NFL did was make a rule that only two players on the kicking team were allowed downfield before the ball was kicked. Now, we see more punt returns in the NFL. College rules don’t do that. In fact, I have told people in the UK who are interested in American football that if they want to see the game played well in its purest form, to watch college football.
It’s not just the lack of complexity of the rules in college football that lure many Americans. The college game is more wide open. You see many more running plays that go ten yards or more and also see more razzle-dazzle plays, thus bringing an air of excitement to the game. On account of this, many Americans do prefer the college game to the professional. However, there is a down side. Until recently, championships were decided by rankings in the sports press. In order to climb the rankings, you had to win games and win them convincingly. In the NFL, if a team is winning 42-0 in the fourth quarter, they will call off the dogs a bit. The losing team may even get a touchdown or two so the score doesn’t look that bad. In college football, there is no let up if a team is up by that score. If anything, the winning team will try to run up the score even more because beating a weaker team 56-0 will send a team up the rankings a lot more than beating them 42-7. Other than that, there is a lot of excitement to be seen in college football.
Many school children in the UK know of the NBA, largely thanks to the film, “Space Jam.” When working as a substitute (supply) teacher, I sometimes get asked who my favourite NBA team is and I happily tell them the Boston Celtics. However, I also tell them that I prefer watching college basketball and why. Yes, in the NBA, you get all the slick moves of Kobe Bryant and LeBron James and that can be exciting. The problem is that the NBA is too good. The teams go up and down court making baskets and after a little while, that can get a little boring. And that’s the cool thing about college basketball. They miss once in a while and that brings a little more uncertainty about scoring. For me, that makes the game more exciting. I know I’m not the only American who holds this view.
Finally, whilst on the subject, many people in the UK think it’s awful that in America, a person can get into a university for playing sports. Let me clarify this. Most of the kids who get offered athletic scholarships from universities are from underprivileged backgrounds. They are probably better than average students but with the demand for university placements and the costs of going to college, these kids would never get the chance to go. Therefore, their athletic abilities get them into a good college where they can have a good education, get a degree and get out of poverty. Isn’t that better than seeing a person has that ability not be able to use it?
To buy He Was Weird, go to https://www.amazon.co.uk/He-Was-Weird-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1909740942/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1523998425&sr=1-1&keywords=he+was+weird
My weird and wonderful mind has been at work since I posted about the “March For Our Lives” last week. I have no shame in stating that the original intention behind starting Peaceful Rampage was to get all of you to buy copies of my book, “He Was Weird.” These last two sentences fused together shortly after I posted about the march. The thought entered my mind, “Would the children of Ramsgate, New Jersey have done a similar thing after their school was shot up?”
Knowing the town where my story was based, (Ramsgate, NJ only exists in my mind and now in print), I earnestly believe that they very well might have done so. After the shooting occurs, the town goes totally into victim mode. Of course everyone in the town tries to deflect the bullying hell, they inflicted on the main character, but the tragedy felt by the people of the town is definitely real. Genuine sympathies are shown in this light by the media, local, national and international as the report of what has happened is spread around the world. Still, the main issue with many was the fact that a thirteen year old boy was able to get his hands on a gun and carry out such a bloody rampage.
When writing “He Was Weird,” I only mention the gun debate in passing as I wanted to focus on the issues that made him ‘snap.’ The point of the story wasn’t to debate the Second Amendment but instead, other issues like bullying, DAMP, and the other mental health issues Mark, the main character, might have had. However, this would not have stopped the children of Ramsgate, many of whom were very academically gifted, from organizing and staging a march on Washington DC. In spite of what I wrote in the book, I can easily see them doing it and it would have been very much like what the students in Parkland, Florida had done. There would have been more media focus on those students and the debates in favour and opposed to the march would have bounced around the mass media as it had done with the Parkland shooting. In fact, everything to do with the march would have been pretty much the same, only the name of the town have been different.
So, why didn’t I write about a march in “He Was Weird?” The answer is that I have always been more of a reactive person than a proactive one. I knew of no marches after a mass shooting so the idea of writing about one never entered into my noggin. Still, it might have been cool if I had written one in because I am sure that the children who survived the shooting would have definitely marched on Washington.
To buy He Was Weird, go to: https://www.amazon.co.uk/He-Was-Weird-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1909740942/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1523264617&sr=1-1&keywords=he+was+weird
“There is nothing more dangerous than someone who thinks he has nothing to live for and therefore, nothing to lose. Who doesn’t particularly want to die but can’t see the point of living. Knows who’s responsible for wrecking their lives and thinks, “If I’m going to die, I’m taking them with me.” This has been a fact of ghetto life from time evermorial but now that it’s hit middle class white suburbia, those who don’t buy into the game are all fair game.”
During the entire two weeks I was in the US, the main topic which seemed to dominate the news every night was the planned march on Washington DC, which took place on the second Saturday I was there. There were plenty of journalists, TV talk show hosts and other people who felt they were qualified to comment on the march. Arguments for and against were put forward and had I not had sufficient time to sit down and process it all, my brain could have been easily overloaded.
To put it down to basics, March For Our Lives was a protest against gun violence born out of the school shooting that took place at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland Florida a few weeks ago. Young people, sickened by the shooting that took place at their school, which left seventeen people dead and the same number wounded, said “Enough was enough,” and decided to do something about it. What they did was to stage a huge march on Washington DC, demanding the nation’s lawmakers do something concrete about guns in America. The eyes of the nation were on them and fellow students from schools around the country joined in on the March.
Here are some of my thoughts and reactions to the events. First, while many on the March were calling for a repeal of the Second Amendment, (The right to bear arms), it wasn’t the main focus of the march. What these young demonstrators were seeking was that America’s lawmakers take a serious look at the gun laws in the country. Whether I want it or not, I don’t think the Second Amendment will ever be repealed as it’s too ingrained in the American psyche. However, I shake my head at all levels of law enforcement who don’t adequately enforce the gun laws already on the books. I’ve said this before, adequate enforcement of existing laws would be a great place to start. Another point I made a few weeks back was that the Parkland shooter wasn’t old enough to legally buy a beer but old enough to legally buy an assault rifle. To me, this is dead wrong! I am in total agreement with raising the age of gun ownership to 21.
Some of the anti-march brigade suggested the “Walk Up” approach. What they mean is that students should be encouraged to walk up to and offer friendship to someone who might be seen as a loner or an outcast as those are the ones who have the most potential of becoming a school shooter. I agree with this. For too long, young people have been encouraged to sneer and look down upon those they consider ‘weirdoes’ or outcasts. In some cases, young students can increase their prestige in school by victimizing or hazing such people. This too needs to end. I can identify with this personally because I was considered one of those outcasts and bullied to the point where I could have easily shot up my school. Fortunately, I didn’t have access to guns.
Another interesting development in the events leading up to the march was the involvement of high school students from urban areas. See, America only seems to take note when tragedies like this happen in ‘white kids schools.’ I saw an interview with some African American students from Baltimore who were going on the march. One student stated that eight of his classmates had been shot in the past year but the media seems to take no notice of it. What they were hoping to achieve was to let everyone know that guns can effect all students no matter of their race or social-economic background. This too needs to be addressed.
Since I don’t like writing posts that are too overlong and I’m in danger of doing this, I’ll end with this. I hope that the March For Our Lives succeeded in making the nation’s law makers look seriously at the country’s gun laws. I also hope that the march also highlighted the other issues that go with school shootings, metal illness, bullying, ignoring people who may be genuinely hurting and a host of others. Maybe then, the violence will end.
To buy He Was Weird, go to: https://www.amazon.co.uk/He-Was-Weird-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1909740942/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1522609776&sr=8-1&keywords=he+was+weird