Open Apology to E.L. James

Let me start out by apologizing to E.L. James, and then I’ll tell you how I got to this point.

I was lying in bed, playing Final Fantasy X HD Remaster, hanging out in Mt. Gagazet, killing some bandersnatches. The word “bandersnatch” reminds me of Benedict Cumberbatch. I then remembered a picture I saw a couple of weeks ago that shows his natural hair color, with is surprisingly gingery. That led me to think of the bias against red-headed men, and how they’re supposedly considered unattractive, so ginger actors often dye their hair for their roles. I remembered that Christian Grey, the title character of Fifty Shades of Grey, is described as having “copper” hair, yet he is portrayed in the movies as being quite brunet. “Gosh, that was a horrid piece of fanfiction,” I thought, “it was such a train wreck toward the end of the second book, I couldn’t stand to get the third one.”

I then remembered the moment when I thought Fifty Shades had truly jumped the shark. It was at the very end, when Anastasia’s former boss is revealed to have tampered with Christian’s plane in a murder attempt. The man was trying to get his revenge because Grey stopped him from sexually assaulting Anastasia. Oh, and Grey had bought out the publishing company Ana and Jack worked for.

“How convoluted,” I thought. “How could anyone consider this to be remotely realistic?”

Then I thought of GamerGate. People are having their private details published all over the Internet. Police are getting false alarm calls to homes of people who disagree with “Gators.” Women are getting rape and murder threats, ostensibly because of “ethics in journalism.” In actuality, a bunch of boys feel threatened because some are calling for more inclusivity in the video game industry.

It’s a lot like a man who ostensibly is angry because he was fired from his job, but, in actuality, is pissed off because he was out-alpha’ed by a rich, powerful guy who got the girl he wanted. Or it’s about ethics in publishing.

Either way, that whole scenario in Fifty Shades seems a hell of a lot more feasible, now that life is imitating art.

Once again, I apologize, Ms. James.

But I still think your work is crap.

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Open Letter to John from Freshman Year

Dear John,

(I’ve always wanted to write a “Dear John” letter, ever since I was a kid, watching the TV show Dear John.)

I’m finally starting to understand why you were so frustrated that I couldn’t pick up on certain cues that you really didn’t want to hang out with me. I believe you actually said that “normal people would have gotten the hint” (I’m obviously paraphrasing from sixteen years ago, so forgive me if the exact wording is off.)

At the time, I thought I was a normal person. Or, at most, I could be a normal person if I tried hard enough. I now know that’s not true. While neurotypical (aka “normal) people can pick up on subtle social cues and react accordingly, I have trouble. I’m almost robotic in that way.

I have to have encountered a similar enough situation in the past, then go through my memory to see if I was told the right way to respond. If I’d never been explicitly told the right way to respond, I’d have to check my memory to see what people’s reactions were in the past. Mind you, due to my trouble picking up on subtle cues, I may never have known if something was ill-received!

I hear that “normal” people don’t have to check their memories; they instinctively know the right way to respond. You can see how much harder I have to work than a “normal” person in order to interact well with other people. Doing so much extra work takes its toll on both the mind and body, especially in a dorm setting where there’s no real place to get alone-time to recharge the cognitive-emotional batteries.

So John, while I’m sorry I annoyed you, and my behavior disturbed you, there’s little I could have done to prevent it (please note that I said “little,” not “nothing”). However, if you were as “normal” as you claimed, you consciously made the choice to be an utter asshole when deciding to finally spell it out for me, over AIM, calling me crazy, an insurance liability, and who knows what else. Don’t get me wrong; I do appreciate you spelling it out for me. It taught me a valuable life lesson, albeit one most people never need to be taught.

As it’s been sixteen years and you’ve most likely moved on with your life, I shall move on as well. If you do read this, or if anyone reading this sees themselves in John’s shoes, please try to be more understanding the next time you’re in a similar situation.


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Open Letters Series

I’ve mentioned this on message boards and Facebook pages associated with my real name, so there’s really no point in failing to mention it here, on my blog, which I can mostly control. I am autistic. I was diagnosed at age four. In my specific case, it means that I have trouble communicating, figuring out other people’s emotions, and having the appropriate emotional response. This has led to my having trouble with social interactions, and therefore relationships of all kinds.

As I only found out about the diagnosis a few months ago, I’m still processing exactly what it means, and how it has shaded my past experiences. I’m also trying to figure out why I didn’t know about it for thirty-one years.

Lately, I’ve been tempted to contact certain people to either explain my inappropriate behavior, or failure to “get a clue.” There are professionals, such as therapists and psychiatrists, whom I’d love to ask why they didn’t have a clue (I’d start out with my elementary school psychologist, who was actually given a copy of my evaluations). However, I realize that this might be viewed as inappropriate at best, and downright creepy at worst, to track down and contact people who I may not have seen in over twenty years. Heck, some of them may no longer be alive.

The next best thing seems to be to write open letters on my blog. If the intended recipient sees them and wants to contact me, then great. Otherwise, no harm, no foul. Identifying information will be modified.

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