The Secret of The Lie: Chapter One

Here is the first chapter of the novel I am writing.

When I saw Ana Lucia Arismendi Obregon it was like time had stopped. She was sitting at a table at the back of the room. Her dark hair flowed over her shoulders and down into the middle of her back. She was no longer the awkward teenager that I remembered that loved gelados and having fun in the park. Her dress was stylish, grey with spaghetti straps. Suede boots covered her feet like slippers. Upon seeing her I almost did not notice that the bodega was almost empty. Only an older couple sat at a table eating enchiladas near the middle of the restaurant. The only light was from the windows that lined all four walls. The sunlight filled the room with a heavenly glow and illuminated Ana Lucia’s hair causing it to glow.
Her back was to the wall and she was sipping a glass of water. She set it down and it was then that she saw me. Her dark brown eyes locked on mine and in them I could see a mix of surprise and recognition. There was the slightest hint of redness in her cheeks and she looked away embarrassed. I made my through the tables and approached her table.
I stood at the edge of the table and smiled at her.
She did not look up at first but when she did it was as if she did not know me.
“I am sorry, sir you must have the wrong table,” she said.
“It is me! It is Jack.” I said smiling even wider.
My smile seemed to make her uncomfortable. She glanced at me and then back at her glass of water.
She continued to avoid my gaze. “No. I don’t remember you.” She said softly.
It had been ten years since I last saw her. She was just a 15 year old girl at the time I left. Now she was older in her mid twenties. My memories of her were fond ones. They were the only bright spot in a dark time. I remember how we used to play in her grandmother’s garden with my dog and would go and get ice cream in the afternoons and just laugh at my jokes and just chat about anything. Other than my friend Jaime, Ana Lucia had been my only friend when I was younger. Being the only gringos in the small town of Guadalupe in Sonora life was difficult, but also being misunderstood made life difficult. I was always a kid that preferred to spend time by myself. Making friends had been difficult for me. I wasn’t shy. It wasn’t until I left Guadalupe and went to live in Los Angeles with my grandfather that I was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome.
Ana Lucia could not have possibly known that when we were younger, but I don’t think that to her it would have mattered. She had been a true friend. An angel that lived in a house of snakes. Now here she was ten years later, pretending not to know me.
I knew she was lying and I told her so.
“I know you remember me, Ana Lucia,” I said. “You recognized me from the first moment you saw me.”
I sat down at the table. Ana Lucia did not try and stop me.
She looked up at me, her eyes pleading with me to forgive her. There were tears in her eyes.
It was such a wonderful feeling to see her again. So many things had changed since I last saw her. I wanted to tell her everything that had happened to me, but I didn’t. I just smiled at her.
There was a small vase of flowers in the center of the table. The vase was full of lavender like the ones she gave me once when we were younger.
“I have never forgotten you.” I said I plucking some of the flowers up with my left hand and handing them to her.
Tears welled in her eyes as she accepted the flowers, but as she did she stopped and glanced at my hand. I knew she was looking at the wedding ring on my ring finger. She looked up at me with what I thought was surprise, but it could have just as easily have been something else that I did not recognize. That look she gave me concerned me.
I knew I should have taken the ring off, but the scars of my wife’s death two years before were still fresh.
I wanted to tell her everything but I wasn’t here for a social visit.
I was back in Guadalupe to find out who killed my mother.
Ten years had passed since her death and the memories of those events had haunted me since the night she died. My memories of the events leading up to her death were still clear in my mind.
My father died when I was young. At least that is what my mother told me at first.
Seeing Ana Lucia, filled my heart with joy.
“Why are you lying to me?” I asked her again.
She opened her mouth to speak, but was interrupted by a man’s voice.
Ana Lucia quickly hid the flowers I had given her in her purse.
I looked up and a young man in his late twenties, with short brown hair a mustache sat down at the table.
“Hello my dear.” He said to Ana Lucia as he leaned over and kissed her. I recognized him. He was Raul Pedregon the son of Juan Pedregon the president of the local Association of Farmers whom my grandfather and I had met with earlier that day. It was Juan who had suggested I have this lunch with his son. Juan probably wanted Raul and me to be friends in the hopes of gaining my grandfather’s good graces when it came time to do business.
Raul sat down and gave Ana Lucia a peck on the lips. She did not look happy about it.
“Hello Jack,I see you two have already met. Ana Lucia,” he said grabbing her chin and tugging on it affectionately, “is my girlfriend.”
Ana Lucia looked positively annoyed his gesture.
“Jack is the son of Raymond Dempsey.” Raul told Ana Lucia. “They came here to invest money and build a packing plant.”
“Yes,” she responded. “You already told me that.”
Raul turned back to me. “Well it is a good thing that you came to this state. If you had decided to go somewhere else we would have been screwed.”
I smiled at him reassuringly. He had no idea how long the plan to come back here had been in the works. Raul was already giving me the impression that he was a lazy ignoramus. The more he spoke the more I was sure of this. I was here not just to invest money. That was a pretext. I wanted to know who killed my mother.
“Oh don’t worry,” I said smiling wryly. “The decision to come here was made here some time ago.”
Ana Lucia gave me a look that was mixture of surprise and anger. The glimmer of anger was something that bothered me.
“Have you ordered yet?” Raul asked.
I said no.
Raul called for the waiter. “Waiter!” he shouted.
A waiter approached the table. “Would you like something to drink?”
Raul smiled and said looking at me, “Would you like some tequila?”
I shook my head no. “ Tequila? No Thank you?”
Raul seemed offended by my response. “Well then what do you want, wine?” he asked almost spitting out wine.
I turned to Ana Lucia “What do you prefer wine or tequila?”
She looked uncomfortable as if she was still uncertain as to what to say to me. “Wine.” she said tepidly.
The waiter handed Raul the wine list. Raul handed them to me “I will let you look at it because I don’t know much.”
Of that I was sure.
I took the wine list from him and glanced at it briefly. “What do you prefer to red or white wine?” I asked Ana Lucia.
Ana Lucia’s gaze returned to what it had been initially and had been throughout the entire conversation a look of happiness mixed with shock and surprise and uncertainty.
She responded uncomfortably,, “I don’t care.”Her response was not flippant as it was more uncertain than anything else.
Raul turned to her “He asked what you wanted.” he said with a slightly condescending tone. “Tell him what you want. You look like a rancher’s daughter without social graces.”
Ana Lucia turned her head quickly in his direction. Her dark hair whirling about slightly. I saw a glimpse of fire in her eyes. “Look, I am not a rancher’s daughter without social graces. You know perfectly well that I don’t like to drink.”
Raul seemed to back off his comment for a second. He shook his head and smiled at me. “She has character. And it is for that that I like her so much.” he said glancing at her. “Look I was just joking Ana Lucia. Get what you want.”
Ana Lucia was still visibly upset. “I don’t like jokes like the ones your father makes.”
Wisely I interrupted their conversation. “Let’s just get some wine.”
I handed the wine list back to the waiter. “Just give us whatever red wine you from Baja California.”
The waiter nodded and left.

The sun was hot on my face as we walked outside after we had finished the meal. Raul had his arm around Ana Lucia who by now seemed much more comfortable. Raul let go of the Ana Lucia
“Hey,” Raul said to me. “How about we go to the club tonight?”
I shook my head. “No I have some business to attend to tomorrow and need to go to bed early tonight.”
Raul pressed the matter.”I could introduce you to some women.”
Again I shook my head and said no.
Raul peered at me for a second. “Why do you have a girlfriend?”
Ana Lucia looked at me. Her eyes filled with interest.
“No,” I said. “I don’t have a girlfriend.”
Ana Lucia looked away for a second then returned her gaze back to me and my left hand. Raul followed her gaze and looking at my hand. “Or is it that you married? You know how wives can be. You tell them you are going somewhere especially to a foreign country and they get jealous. You step out once and they make your life hell.”
I hesitated before answering. I really did not want to answer with Ana Lucia watching but this idiot decided to press the matter. How to answer that question?
“I don’t think my wife would be jealous. She’s dead. I am only recently widowed.” I said.
The look Ana Lucia was similar to the one that she had given me earlier that I had not liked earlier. Only this time it was more intense.
Raul seemed oblivious to this. “Hey give me your valet tickets.” He said to us.
We both complied and he went to give our tickets to the valet.
Ana Lucia looked at me again. “You were married?”
“Yes. I was, but she died last year” I wanted to change the subject as quickly as possible. “How is your family?”
Ana Lucia sighed. “They are well.” she said. “My sister just got married.”
I was surprised by this news since Ana Lucia’s sister Carolina had always said when we were younger that she would rather bathe in acid than get married. I guess time changes people. Proof of this was Ana Lucia. She was no longer the teenager I remembered. She had become a beautiful and intelligent woman. It surprised me to that I thought she was perhaps the most beautiful woman I had seen in my life.
“You know,” I said. “I never thought you would end up with an idiot like Raul.”
She looked away. “Our families wanted it.”
It was clear that she did not.
Raul returned with our keys. He and Ana Lucia said her goodbyes. I stayed for a watching them leave. I knew that some how some way, I was going to see Ana Lucia again. Fate had a strange way of making things like that happen, but now I needed to attend to the business I had spoken to Raul about. I needed to see my friend Jaime, but first I needed to visit my mother’s grave. It was time to see her grave. I grasped my car keys and walked into the sunlight towards the curb where the valet had left my car waiting for me.

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Why I Write This Blog

When I first started writing this blog I wanted it to be a place to showcase my skills as a writer. I have written a lot over the course of my life from works of fiction like Ivory Requiem or poems like Be The Change the words of which have become the basic mantra of my life.

The change is you
Live it like it was tomorrow today and yesterday
Society drags down those who don’t resist
Resist the mediocrity and the hypocrisy
The change is within you
And lives through you
It shields the downtrodden from the fists of society
And builds up the weak to highest points
Be the change
And it will change you
Never look back
Keep your eyes on the future
Like the light that it is
It will guide you to the change you can be
Be the change and it will change you
The future seems bright if you live it
The future will be the change
And the change will be you

Still, as time grew, it became just a place where I should showcase myself. Where I could be honest and candid about life. Yet people have been cautioning me that it I should be mindful of what I post online because people might get the wrong. That is exactly why I write this blog so that people won’t get the wrong impression about me as a person. I may have autism but I am still a person. I feel pain, I laugh. I smile. I cry. I am human. Yet I know that people have misgivings about meeting or working with or being friends with a person that has autism. Out of lack of knowledge they can’t get past the “that has autism” part and often forget the “person” bit. That is what this blog has been about: dispelling that ignorance that still exists.

In my last post Why I Use Social Media, I described my need to express myself and connect with other people and how if I wasn’t on sites like Facebook and Twitter. people would not know anything about me. The same is true for this blog. Yet it is here for more than that. I realized over time that there was a lot of ignorance about autism still in the world. It exists despite all of the bloggers and vloggers who try to spread awareness of the disorder.

Ignorance is perhaps the most infuriating thing anyone has to deal with. It is like a disease that just doesn’t want to leave. I see a lot of ignorance everywhere. I sometimes feel that despite the number of people blogging or vlogging about Asperger’s that we are really just preaching to the choir. Either that or we are shouting really loudly and no one is listening. I am not certain which is more frustrating.

On the other hand the battle for awareness of autism has made great inroads among neurotypical people. There are now two types of neurotypical people I have met. Those who know people who know people with Autism and people who don’t. This blog is primarily for the people who don’t but sometimes it applies to the people who do. Ignorance and prejudice can be a fickle things many people may not be aware they even are prejudiced or ignorant. Others are more blatant about it. Even the nicest and most caring of people can be ignorant at times. Even people who know people who have autism can be ignorant. Even people who have autism can be ignorant. The worst is when people don’t realize that they are ignorant. It is for them that this blog is written to end their blindness. I write it to illuminate what they are not seeing that disability does not mean inability. If that were true, I would not be working where I do.

Also there are the people who want to learn more about the disorder that some call autism and I just call being human. For those people too, I write this blog so that they can learn more about it. I have many neurotypical friends who I want to teach more about autism, its causes and its effects on people lives because only through knowledge can ignorance and fear be brought to an end. And on that day I will stop writing this blog because there will no longer be the need. Until that time, I shall continue writing even if I am old and grey. I will not be silenced by ignorance and fear.

Why I Use Social Media

People have been commenting about why I use social media as much as I do. Its simple really. The answer is in the name: social media. People use it for various reasons but the primary reason most users use sites like Twitter and Facebook are the social interaction features. Yet for many people with autism the primary reason is communication. It is where we converse with friends and family much like a non-autistic person picks up the telephone to chat with a friend. So much of the conversation surrounding social media is about its uses for journalism, pr, marketing and activism. Yet while those people are the most numerous of users they are not the most active. While they tend to use it doing the work time hours of 9 to 5 or even a few hours after work until they go to sleep at night, we never stop. M0st people with autism don’t have regular sleep patterns.

Autistics are usually fairly limited in their ability to interact with people in a social manner. I myself don’t have many real friends except for maybe one or two. Sure I have met a lot of nice people but that barrier that is called autism exists. Social media is how I cross that barrier. It is my portal to the world. It is where I become known to the world. It is where I interact and socialize with people and learn about the world. How many people would I have met without this online medium? Probably none. It was through Twitter that I met Stacey Soleil who is such a caring and true friend even though I haven’t spoken to her recently yet I still enjoy seeing her snarky poss on my Twitter feed. Also there is my friend Cristina Dunning who is like everyone’s personal cheerleader always trying to encourage people and cheer them up and just generally make them laugh They are just some of the awesome and amazing people I have met.

I am not the most chatty person. In most social situations I am usually the one who is sitting quietly like a wallflower but I don’t mind doing that. It gives me a good chance to observe human behavior. I am quicker to size up a person and estimate what they are about because while everyone is chatting with other people, I am observing them. I learn a lot about human behavior that way. Yet at the same time the barrier exists that keeps me from interacting and socializing with other people. I am much more comfortable with interpersonal communication as opposed to group communication. I often sit and watch as people start-up conversations with other people and just gab away while I am often sitting quietly.

Sociologists who study group behavior say that it is possible to feel lonely and isolated in groups. Our dependence on technology as a society has created a state where we all have become like islands in a vast ocean instead of countries who share common borders. Loneliness and isolation is common for people with Asperger’s is common without the use of technology. Without the use of social media Aspies like myself as well as many other autistics who are non-verbal but can type like Carly Fleischmann who has a website called Carly’s Voice and blogs about autism for CTV. Social media is the window to the world for many people who have autism.

If I did not post on here even the people who see me on a regular basis would not know anything about me. I would just be that strange guy who sits in a corner and sometimes says things that are a little weird or out-of-place. People need to understand that this is where I communicate. Like some people like to gab about their lives to their friends at parties or at work or on the phone or in various other social situations, this is where I gab about my life to mine. People tell me that I should be careful about what I post online but when they say that it is clear they don’t understand autism and some leeway is needed when making such demands. That is why I have written this. Just so people can understand the way that I communicate is different from most people. I am not saying either way is wrong of right but the world in general favors interpersonal communication over online communication because it lacks a personal touch and people are always worried about how people might react to something so they keep it offline, for me offline means in my head or in a private journal and not with a close group of friends like many non-autistics choose to do.

For me social media is my way of gabbing about my everyday life. It is the doorway into who I am. It is here that I share my stories instead of gossiping about it with people offline in social situations. If I didn’t do this no one would know anything about me not even the people who see me on a regular basis. This breaks down the barrier that autism creates. I don’t ask why people talk to each other in person or on the phone, because I spend so much time online for the same reason: to communicate and interact with people. I hope this helps people understand me better because though I am verbal I am still in many ways locked behind the walls of autism.

The Best Few Weeks of My Life

Where do I begin?

After sending out my farewell letter, I received a message from one of my friends that Ben Sherwood the president of ABC News had read my farewell letter aloud during one of the morning production meetings. Not too long afterword he called me to talk and tell me had read my letter.  I felt like I was literally on cloud 9.

My internship ended and during my break I travelled to New Orleans for the Excellence in Journalism Conference.  It was a chance to reconnect and with some old friends and meet some new ones. New Orleans is an amazing city full of music and good food. I learned a lot attending the different workshops and met some of my fellow ABC News colleagues.

New Orleans is a city like no other. Music is almost on every corner and in every building and of course there is that famous street in New Orleans which is a required stop in the city:

 IMG_20110928_092754

What ABC News colleagues if my internship is over? My internship did end but I a week before I left for New Orleans I was offered a position as a desk assistant at ABC News. I was shocked and surprised by the offer, but readily accepted it.  As I mentioned in my previous post, it had been my dream to  work at ABC News.  Now that dream has begun to come to fruition. I firmly believe that hard work does pay off and in my case it did. My dream is beginning to happen.

When the Light Ends

As time marches on

And the halls of majesty whisper nothing

And only the echoes of silence are all that remain

Even death seems like a fading memory

As everything and anything slowly slips away

Into the black hole of bliss

Yet only the light remains

Holding on as it resists the crushing forces of nothingness

That surround it

Swirling around it in a fury absent of passion

Which has dissipated into the nothingness that consumes everything

Try as it might the light fades away

And slowly is crushed by the eternal nothingness into blissful oblivion

Transcending everything and nothing

And transforming into the effervescence of emotion

And illuminating the nothingness so that only the absence of nothing remains

And only a dream of what once was can still be felt

Corazon Partido

Corazón partido
Corazón espinado
Corazón frío
Corazón sin amor
Amor sin caricias
La profunda decepción si existe
Existe en el fundamental meollo de los engañados
Pero qué pudiera existir sin amor?
Lamentablemente solamente las memorias de un corazón partido existen sin amor

Eyes of Light

Truth has is its meaning
But meaning has no truth
Like eyes that flutter 
Concealing the irises and pupils
The eyes of light conceal the truth
That ignores that which is around
As if it never existed
To fixate their beams 
On something better
As if the truth that went before
Was built on falsehoods and fantasies
Each fantasy based upon a proposed reality
Which the eyes of light exposed as their own falsehood
Running from what could have been true and strong
Ignoring the all-encompassing truth around them
But these eyes see what they want
And live in an ideal fantasy
That some are not ready to actualize
And run from the light 
To hide in the dark
So the eyes of light
Cannot penetrate their souls
And not mend their broken hearts
By refilling them with light
A light that sees everything
And scans the darkness for the lost souls
So as to give them hope
The hope to continue on
And mend hearts with light

Hold on to the Night

Hold on to the night

Has the shape of things changed
That as hope rises the world dances a little more
In that endless symphony of dreams
Playing the final song of the night
As two lovers dance the night away
As if to say here we are
And we don’t care if you see us
For our special brand of magic
Was created when the conductor lifted his baton
And the band began to play that soft melancholy tune
As the hours passed by and we stared endlessly into each others eyes
Seeing the universe’s reflections in our souls
As our hearts wept
For we knew the dance must end
But with every last bit of love
We held onto the night
For it was there that our dreams came true
And we knew the night would never end
For as the night went on we got lost in each others arms
And played no heed as the conductor put his baton away
For the music was playing in our hearts
And created by our souls?

Be the Change

The change is you
Live it like it was tomorrow today and yesterday
Society drags down those who don’t resist
Resist the mediocrity and the hypocrisy
The change is within you
And lives through you
It shields the downtrodden from the fists of society
And builds up the weak to highest points
Be the change
And it will change you
Never look back
Keep your eyes on the future
Like the light that it is
It will guide you to the change you can be
Be the change and it will change you
The future seems bright if you live it
The future will be the change
And the change will be you