Friday, April 19, 2013


About 18 months ago with the approval of my beautiful, really smart, looks 25 years younger than she is, hard working and wise Chinese wife I took a job at the University of Guam. I'd been at the International school for 12 years and it was time to move on. My last year in Hong Kong had been rather hard health wise. I caught an antibiotic resistant bronchitis and missed weeks of work; I suspect that the air pollution in Hong Kong had something to do with that. Since my wife's job in Hong Kong pays very well and we have no children at home it was decided that I would take the job and move to Guam by myself. The idea was that it might be a good time to start transitioning away from Hong Kong and we thought that Guam might fit the bill as a relaxed place to retire.

There is a lot to like about Guam. The West side of the island, where all the tourist go is beautiful. The people are friendly, the pace of life is laid back and the lifestyle is far less stressful than Hong Kong. As with any place there are things we don't like. The government is not so much corrupt as it is incompetent, it is very remote, things like food are very expensive and there are limited options for things like doctors and health care. But the purpose of my first post in 18 months isn't to delineate the merits and flaws of Guam. I was here two weeks when we decided that this was not the place for us but that is neither here nor there.

So what is the purpose? There was an editorial about 2 years ago, I forget who wrote it, that was talking about autism and how despite what you often read there really isn't a burgeoning epidemic of autistic children but a only a change in the way symptoms are categorized. I have no idea if the author was right or wrong but he used an interesting example. The example was that by the expanded definition of autism used by many diagnosticians today most academics could be considered autistic. They prefer to work alone, are often socially awkward, and spend long hours engaged in the study of minutiae. I laughed at the example but it was a nervous laughter. Despite working in a K-12 setting I am trained as an academic and the personality type hit a little too close to the mark.

The move to Guam has showed me that the illustration was flawed. Yes, the secondary symptoms of autism may be shared with many academics but I think that one other symptom is missing, an important one. When I was an undergraduate I worked in a residential institution for adults with various mental disabilities. I refuse to use the politically correct term of “Specially Challenged” because I feel it demeans them by denying their condition but that is another post for another time. The symptom of autism, at least the severe cases I worked with in the residential setting was that they had no emotional attachment to anyone. One man spent all day staring at the corner of a door frame. He had to be forced to stop to eat or even to go to the toilet.

I am a loner, I am uncomfortable in many social settings, I read about the lives of Byzantine emperors for pleasure and collect antique bicycle parts. I don't have a lot of friends. But I miss my wife and the friends in Hong Kong. This has been the season of loneliness for me. I cannot wait for this contract to end.

Until Next Time
Fai Mao
The Lonely Blogger

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