I've spent the last five days on a mountaintop in the very approximate location (GPS doesn't work here) of Hot Springs, North Carolina, attending a meditation retreat at the end of the most ungodly, one lane, bumping, sharp-dropoff road I have ever bounced up. On the first night, we were asked to give our names and tell one surprising thing about ourselves. One young man said, "I am a very good parallel parker." I had to admire this as the least revealing personal anecdote I had ever heard. Someone else said they had attended seven of the first eight Bonnaroo music festivals -- more informative, although it was hard not to wonder what happened to the eighth. Someone had been to Iceland.
When it was my turn, I said, "I'm a journalist, and there are a lot of people who don't like me."
This got some laughs. Since the retreat was conducted in silence, nobody asked me why a lot of people didn't like me until Friday. I explained the usual -- my reporting has convinced me that autism is new, environmental, and epidemic, that vaccines are a large factor in it and other iatrogenic disorders, and that a lot of us are trying to tell the truth about it, which a lot of people don't like. That we have a Web site called Age of Autism that a surprising number of people read and respond to with insightful comments, that we are out on Google doing battle daily against Death Star avatars like the CDC, the Autism Science Foundation, Autism Speaks, that are trying to drown us out. (See last Saturday's post.)
When I got home last night and logged into my (423 new) e-mails and checked the snail mail, I was reminded how much I don't care that a lot of people don't like us. While I was off the grid, our readers had pushed us near the top of our own personal mountain -- the $5,000 matching fund drive that Anonymous Donor set in motion at the start of the month.
We are now at $4,600, and I have a feeling we are going to make or exceed our goal. And that is fabulous, so please, before the holidays consume us, consider pitching in tax-deductably and money-doublingly to get us the rest of way up. (Last year we raised $7,000 from readers, so please don't let the matching limit stop you.) And thanks for sending so many kind words along the way. Julia Whiting of Charlottesville sent hers with a Christmas card of her wonderful family, and V. Ward of Santa Barbara, I blush to say, wrote that "I visit your website all the time, and The Age of Autism is one of my all time favorite books." Thanks, V., we will try to keep both coming and with help like yours, we wlll.
One note was addressed, "Dear Dan and Dan's Crew, Thank you for what you do. Luis and Luis Jr." To Luis Tijero and Luis Jr. of Spring, Texas, and all of you, Kim, Mark, myself and the rest of the crew say thanks.
Editor, Age of Autism
(checks via mail: Make out to Autism Age, c/o Olmsted, 102 Whittier Circle, Falls Church VA 22046)