So, as I wrote that I would do in the last entry that I completed before I went quiet, I moved back to the place in Australia where I grew up. (This is a totally separate discussion, but do not ever call me Australian. I am autistic. If you do not understand the distinction, please go and read something else.) Western Sydney, or Central Western Sydney as the transit authority and its contractors are calling it nowadays, has always been a puzzle of contradictions. There are problems with it, some of them enormous, but the thing that has made me anxious to return to it since long before I began to experience serious respiration problems remains the same. As bad as it sometimes seems, it is often by a long road the best part of the “commonwealth” of Australia.
Let us address one particular point first. Sydney is, much like the other real cities in Australia, situated on a coastal line. This is a perfectly natural thing when a city is in a country as arid and short of natural resources as is the case with Australia. To give you some idea, people proclaim all the time that Australia has a similar amount of land to America or several combined nations in Europe, but is underpopulated because it only has a populace in the low twenty million bracket. This is false. If the same number of people as in the combined territories of Germany, France, Italy, and Spain (as a rough and conservative guesstimate of how many countries in Europe it takes to equal Australia’s land mass) were deposited in Australia as it is today, at least two thirds would die in a matter of days from thirst.
But we are not here today to discuss the deficit in progression or thought that exists between Sydney and pretty much the entire rest of Australia. Instead, I want to talk about the experience I had of returning to Sydney as an old-looking (not to mention feeling) man after leaving it as a vaguely young (and old-feeling) man.
I will be brief about travelling by air. I hate it. The manner in which the changes in air pressure mess with my sinuses and stomach are things I will never get used to. Fortunately, aside from those things, the flight itself was mostly uneventful. However, the late Douglas Adams began one novel with the statement that it is not a coincidence that no language spoken by Humans has ever produced the expression “as pretty as an airport”. Whilst neither Brisbane nor Sydney airports achieve the level of ugliness that can only be a result of special effort, they are confusing and, to many people including this autistic adult with diabetes, potentially medically dangerous to try to navigate. Australians have called for the construction of a Very Fast Train system between Brisbane, Sydney, and Melbourne. Similar to what the Japanese have connecting Tokyo with some of their more distant cities. Or what the Europeans have connecting major centres within their combined territories. The salient point here is that in contrast to 99.98 percent of what else comes out of an Australian’s mouth, I can only agree here. High-speed rail to connect at minimum the cities of the eastern states should be a big priority.
(Yes, you are reading the sign in this rather poorly-taken shot correctly. That says “free Parramatta shuttle”. You see, although Parramatta is but one part of a city with approximately five million people in it, enough people travel around in it that its government saw fit to begin running a free bus service for easy access to all of its parts.)
But that is all pure fluff at the moment. When I started trying to make my way back to Sydney, I had plans in mind. Vague plans, but plans all the same. Step one was to find a place that was comfortable but likely not luxurious to live in. For years, I listened to bullshit from my male parental unit concerning how much dearer rents and such are in Sydney. And you know what? To a certain extent, he is right. Whilst I can fukk around with numbers and try to state that the same money in Brisbane will get a person something much closer to Sydney city itself, the practical reality is that in Central Western Sydney, what one pays further out to the Southwest will get one significantly less, as one of my uncles has pointed out far more convincingly. (Note to male parental unit: blanket statements like “too expensive”, “most expensive” et cetera ad bullshit get you nowhere. You have to provide evidentiary examples with me, and let me see them up close.)
(My mother has two younger brothers. I forget which is older than the other, but the uncle I have been in contact with since getting back to Sydney has, in contrast to my male parent, done a few things financially that will keep him secure in his rapidly-approaching genuine old age. One of these things is to invest in properties for rental. The important point here is that he knows what he is talking about when he grumbles about prices and returns, and I have no problem believing it. He has told me that one property he and his wife are the landlords of fetches about $380 per week on the Gold Coast, but would easily get $500 or more in Central Western Sydney.)
Now, contrary to what a lot of negationistic assholes will tell you, I do not mind admitting this. I made a lot of mistakes when planning and trying to implement the process of moving to Sydney. Probably the most grave of which was to not check up as thoroughly as I really should have on potential places. I very much wanted to go to Sydney, find a way to stay there however temporarily, and look at potential places with my own two eyes in order to find something that worked. I hate not having things planned out in as much detail as is Humanly possible. But the manner in which the people I was trying to get help from responded to this still has me gobsmacked. No, Dean, you cannot get temporary lodgings in Sydney and stay there until you find a semi-permanent place. However, all of this is just more bullshit and detail. The important point for this discussion is that instead of moving into a liveable space, I found myself in a space that can best be described as a trap for ignorant migrants who do not speak English effectively. You might think I am exaggerating, and you certainly have a right to think so. But such a challenge of exaggeration does not stand up well to the fact that the hot water tank/heater in the house was actually positioned above an otherwise very scummy-looking shower stall.
(Seriously, take a look at this image, look me directly in my face, and tell me you would willingly put your foot in that multiple times over the course of six months.)
And that is just for starters. There are two power points in the bathroom, one of which has been covered over with electrical tape and paint. It is possible to reach out from the shower and put one’s hand on this power point. The other is literally maybe an inch from the toilet.
Now, when my mother proposed to get my uncle to come around and take a look at the place, I was overwhelmed with anxiety. I was very clear with my mother. Although I only focused on the point that the shower stall itself and most importantly the drain within looked like a Rust Monster had shat on them, I was very adamant about one point. I could not live in this place even for the usual six month term that is generally the minimum on a lease. I was very scared that my uncle was going to take a look at the place and tell my mother that he did not understand what I was in such a huff about. Not because of any particular belief or idea I have about my uncle (I am not generally enamoured of anyone in either side of my extended family for reasons that would make an interesting article later). But rather, because I just could not get past the manner in which my male parental unit responds to reports of problems that really mess with my world.
(For those who want to keep score: I did eventually find suitable living in the area. The floor space is only about a third of the place I describe above, and there are some hassles with how I like to set up my living as a result. But it is, to quote the aforementioned uncle, liveable. This, by the way, repugnantthugs, is why regulation in a market with a differential between demand and supply, or indeed any market, is actually a very good thing.)
As Jennifer Lawrence says so well in less specific detail during X-Men: First Class, no matter how bad the world gets for me, my “daddy” (read that word out loud the way Deborah Ann Woll says it during one episode of True Blood to get the full meaning) wants me to be part of it. Fukk you… “daddy”.
I think my uncle needs to have a strong word with my mother and my male parental unit about how the above-described feelings rolled off into the prospect of having him come and take a look. But moving on from that, the end result is that my uncle came, took a look, and declared that the place would be considered unliveable in its present form. All of the problems with that bathroom that I described, with the exception of the scummy floor and especially scummy-looking drains, he pointed out to me and my mother. Although I have not tried to verify this, he believes that I would not be physically able to stand upright in the shower. I am five feet, eight inches, and change tall, if that tells you anything about the state of the place. So whilst I blame myself for applying for this place and jumping when the agent barked in spite of my apprehensions at the lack of information, I also blame certain people for perpetuating that lack of information.
So as you can imagine, step one turned out to be a lot of convoluted sub-steps that began to make me feel like I was chasing my own arsehole, trying to kiss it instead of pointing my face forward and doing something. That was step two, for those who wondered. You see, no matter where I go, I feel an overwhelming sense that the autistic community needs to get its shit more “together”. The reason for this is as much to do with outsiders as it is us.
You see, I spent a total of maybe three or four years in the Northern Brisbane area. In that time, the conjunctive phrase “suffer from autism” was spoken or written in my presence two times, if that. One occasion, it was in the form of a question from an ambulance officer (“you suffer from autism?”). I still cannot get my head around the level of ignorance and misguidance it takes to make a person who has undergone the level of training necessary to become an emergency medical officer think that this would be acceptable. Hey, idiots, what do you think would happen to you if you asked a person who said they had Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander ancestry if they “suffer from blackness”? Do you think you would have a job for long? Well, the fact that you cannot be fired so fast your head spins for asking me if I “suffer from autism” means that there is a serious fukking problem in the land you inhabit. And whilst this happened maybe a couple of times in North Brisbane, I have been in Sydney for a total of about three weeks (at the time I finished the first draft of this text), and it has already occurred twice.
You are supposed to be better than that, Sydney. I know that the real autism specialists converge in Brisbane (Australia’s contribution to the handful in the world whose speech is not equal parts bull and shit is based in Petrie), but there is simply no excuse for this. The online world has simply exploded with writings about how unacceptable autistic adults find this. Maybe emergency medical officers do not get online to the extent I do (in fact, I would call that a given), but when your profession entails attending to people who may be looking at you through all sorts of curious mixes of racial and neurological traits, it behooves you to get an informed and complete cross-section of what they think. Because irrespective of how much so-called “person first” separationist language gets people both defending it and verbally crucifying it, one thing is repeated by the autistic with overwhelming frequency. The consensus that people who use words like “suffer” in context of the autistic spectrum have no removals at all from those who snarl words like “nigger” or “sambo” at black men with all of the hateful intent such words were often design to convey.
Hence, one of my goals in coming to Sydney was to spread the word. Curebies are not welcome around us. If you live in Sydney, are reading this, and want to know more about starting to take back this fair city from people who genuinely thinking everyone thinking exactly alike is acceptable or desirable, then this comment section is for you. And if you live in Sydney and think that nature’s own design for diversity of cognition needs to be cured, then consider this a notice. I lived with abuse from the ilk of you, in numerous forms, for far too much of my life. Your time is over.
This also (might) prompt(s) a change in the way I approach this journal and what I write about. Although promotion of a point of view was the primary goal, I never planned for the extent to which my own personal experiences and the ugliness of my life would overwhelm that. So I am going to make a conscious effort to reduce the amount of personal stuff I let into this journal. From now on, overwhelmingly negative experiences that involve myself are going to be spoken of in a certain removed, legal, neutral fashion. Comments on other peoples’ experiences are also going to be framed in a much more neutral and ordered manner because adopting the role of a judge or jury tends to be a bit more effective than writing from the “perspective” of a confused, tearful victim.
Do not get me wrong, this is going to be a subtle change going forward, not a big one. And it will not be overwhelmingly the case overnight. But that brings me to the second change I wish to make. As I am also in the city I want to be in, it also means there will be far more personal content soon. As I have written a few times, I have one of those “prosumer” type of still cameras, which I intend to start using to take photos of places around both Parramatta and “central” Sydney. Many photographers say that one grows as an artist and photographer when they are taking pictures of subjects that they actually have an interest in. Naked women with minds of a depth aside, Sydney and locations thereof happen to be the place I have the most interest in taking photographs of.
This brings me to a point that I feel it is important for a number of people (including both of my parental units) to understand. I grew up in Sydney as an autistic child during an era in which growing up autistic but not hitting yourself and screaming at the mere sight of steam entailed being abused in creative and often spectacular ways. That means I have a lot of painful memories associated with the same parts of Western Sydney that I was so anxious to return to.
What does that suggest to you, normies? You see, when I originally left this part of Sydney in 2001 and made my way to Eastern Melbourne (to the same suburb that martial arts star Richard Norton was born in, no less), I had an idea in mind. I wanted to forget the prior parts of my life, and start all over again. I just never imagined I would have so much trouble getting off the starting blocks. And after two bouts of priapism, and leaving for Queensland primarily to escape the real threat of more (so eat shit if you think I came to Queensland voluntarily), I realised something profound. Escaping what you really are, and why you are what you are, is a futile thing to attempt. Oh, it is not like one cannot move to a new place and adopt it and like it and so on. But in order to make one understand what I am getting at here, let me indulge in a simile.
All four men who make up the real Black Sabbath grew up and bonded in one of the “wrong side of the tracks” places in the city of Birmingham, England. Ozzy Osbourne, the vocalist for those who do not remember, is the least publicity-shy of the lot. Even around his million-dollar mansion in America, he cusses like a sailor that happens to be afflicted by Tourette’s Syndrome and acute hypoglycaemia. The slightest complicated electronic device causes him to wail at his wife for assistance. His philosophical platitudes (which he seems to come out with far more regularly than is made out in his media appearances) revolve around how he is perfectly fine to do without, but since he does not have to, he fails to see why he should. Or how he would not change a thing if he had to do it all over again.
This is an exemplary case of how you can take the boy out of Birmingham (or Parramatta), but you can never take the Birmingham (or Parramatta) out of the boy. A key difference between people who live in Parramatta and people who live in the majority of Brisbane, to cite my favourite example, is perspective on the value of time. I will borrow a Maddox-cited scenario and twist it a bit to show what I mean.
Let us imagine for a moment that a hot dog vendor had the money and resources to set up a stall in one of the myriad walkways that make up the major shopping centres in Parramatta and Morayfield. In the latter context, I mean major in the loosest possible sense. (If you reside closer to Chermside, bear in mind that Chermside’s “major” shopping mall is at most a third the size of Parramatta’s, and you get the idea.) But suppose for a second that major walking paths in both shopping centres were suddenly “graced” with a vendor stand offering “free” hot dogs. What would be the result?
In Morayfield, and I suspect most of Queensland, the result would be mayhem. Congestion in the immediate area of the vendor would reach such biblical proportions that other retailers would begin to complain that it is having a negative impact on their business. Queenslanders in a quest for a free hot dog would line up as long and wide as they can, not caring whose path they block, or whom they inconvenience (or even injure) by doing so.
The difference is that Parramatta’s shopping centre would, in all likelihood, turn down such a request with a note to the effect of “are you fukking kidding?”. No, I kid (not really). But the designers of Westfield shopping centre in Parramatta did something smart, and designed the paths through which people walk in such a manner that the number of shoppers within the mall would have to increase by about three to five hundred percent before serious non-idiocy-caused congestion took place. And then there is a serious difference between a Queenslander and a Parramatta boy that the former especially do not want to acknowledge. A Parramatta boy would take a look at what was going on and say “hey, idiots, it is only free if your time is not valuable”.
(A couple of notes here: One, I am being metaphorical when I say hot dogs. I could be referring to anything from biscuits to microwave ovens. In order to determine if a “free” thing is worth it, you have to take the average time it takes to wait in line, multiply it by your hourly rate, and determine if you could turn around and sell the freebie for more than the result. Very few things offered for free actually are free when this formula is applied. Two, some individuals, elderly or foreign in particular, would be lining up. Maybe even some people who have never seen the world outside of the Parramatta region. Parramatta has as many people going through it as a daily average as the greater Brisbane area has, total, so we cannot expect all of them to be this quick on the uptake.)
(The gold-bricked house you see in the image above is the place where I resided during my childhood and adolescence, as it exists in 2012. Needless to say, when the toddling me and my family moved into it, it looked nothing like what you see above.)
My time is precious to me. Years of people taking it for granted (this means you, “daddy”) has that as an inevitable consequence. If you are expecting me to just stand behind you whilst you scratch your arse and talk to the driver, and especially when I have heavy bags in hand, do not act surprised when I get angry at you. Sydney is replete with people who understand that. In fact, whilst Sydney does have its share of people who do not understand that, a very significant portion, possibly even a numerical majority, do. Although it is not always successful, Sydney has designed itself, and redesigned itself, to move its people from sector to sector as quickly and efficiently as is possible. Trips that take as little as twenty minutes going the scenic route during peak-hour traffic in Sydney are multi-hour propositions in Melbourne or, to a greater extent, Brisbane.
Yet I am always mentally conflating that with the fact that all of the most egregious abuses of my person in both the physical and psychological that were performed by other Humans took place in Western Sydney. In fact, were it not for visits to places in Queensland during holidays, Westmead would have a near-monopoly on those things. There are places in Sydney that I look at and feel such a flux of rage and anger that it is just as well I am usually alone when this occurs. There is a place around here where I kept going to see a psychiatrist who was supposedly respected. Yet in hindsight, I wish I could have gone into their office with “I am autistic” tattooed into my fukking head. There is a lot of pain and fury woven up in this place for me, is what I am getting at.
Yet I would rather live in this part of the nation (a nation that, lest we forget, has the worst rate of poverty among the disabled in the world) than live around anything the other two major cities in said nation can offer. That is where the title of this article comes from. I am Parramatta’s abused child who has grown up and come back to lay down the law. I did not choose to stay away and hide in places where I could pretend to be a completely different person. I tried my damnedest to make another life in another place (two of them, in fact) work. Here I am in Sydney again. Figure that out at your leisure.