Episodes: My Life as I See Itby Blaze Ginsberg
EPISODES is a memoir like no other. Debut writer, Blaze Ginsberg, offers a unique perspective on his life as a highly-functioning autistic 21 year old. Inspired by the format of the Internet Movie Database, Blaze organizes his life events as a collection of episodes. Some episodes are still running, some are in syndication, and some have sadly come to an end. With
EPISODES is a memoir like no other. Debut writer, Blaze Ginsberg, offers a unique perspective on his life as a highly-functioning autistic 21 year old. Inspired by the format of the Internet Movie Database, Blaze organizes his life events as a collection of episodes. Some episodes are still running, some are in syndication, and some have sadly come to an end. With an innovative style and approach that is all its own, EPISODES reinvents the traditional memoir; and it will inspire young readers to see the world as they've never seen it before.
“Hey, have you seen the one about the guy making sense of his life through television? I sat on my sofa all night and couldn’t take my eyes off it. It’s got a pace and an energy I haven’t seen for seasons. Check it out, it’s one of the best things on, a great, great show.” —Daniel Handler
“This book provides memorable insight into the author’s distinctive mind and spirit.” —Booklist
“The format for Blaze’s tale is unique and suits the story.” —VOYA
“A singular reading experience that gives insight into an equally singular way of processing and reflecting on life.”—Publishers Weekly
“Blaze is brave. Blaze is bold. Blaze blazes his own literary path with humor and pathos. Blaze has a capacity to translate the often untranslatable differences of human beings . . . A triumph!” —Jamie Lee Curtis
“Each passage functions as a minimalist gateway into his passions, dreams, fears and desires.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Most importantly, Ginsberg give readers a unique glimpse into an adolescent mind that is simply wired differently.” —School Library Journal
“Major props to Blaze Ginsberg for his tour de force memoir, EPISODES. The creative format, combined with the author’s total honesty, allows easy access to his differently wired brain. Thank you, Blaze, for letting us in.” —Ellen Hopkins, bestselling author of Crank and Tweak
“I’m always happy to see examples of courage, intelligence, wit, and talent, but to find all these qualities in a single book is amazing. Blaze Ginsberg is my new hero. I don’t know any other writer more brave or honest, and how can you say anything better about a guy and his work than that?"
—Terry Trueman, author of the Printz Honor book, Stuck in Neutral
“The categories ‘autobiography’ and ‘memoir’ don't fully express what this book is all about. EPISODES has all of the deep and human mystery of a novel. Here is a map to a strange and wonderful world.” —Ron Koertge, author of Stoner and Spaz
“It’s a privilege and a delight to be able to see the world through the eyes of Blaze Ginsberg. EPISODES is fascinating, funny, poignant, frustrating, enlightening, unique.” —A. M. Jenkins, Printz Honor recipient for Repossessed
“Blaze Ginsberg’s memoir, EPISODES, is a deep, brilliant, unapologetic, and unbelievably fascinating tour through the mind of a young so-called ‘special needs’ student, told with heartbreaking honesty and the kind of humor for which no adjectives currently exist. However the teenage author has been labeled by his local school system, what makes him special on the page are the gripping and absolutely original details of his own condition, and by extension, the human condition. I cannot think of a recent book I loved more than this one. EPISODES is like nothing you will ever read. It is truly an inspiring, beautiful, life-changing, and life-affirming work of art.” —Jerry Stahl, author of Permanent Midnight
"Refreshing." —Jenny, age 16
Read an Excerpt
My Life As I See It
By Blaze Ginsberg
Roaring Brook PressCopyright © 2009 Blaze Ginsberg
All rights reserved.
my freshman year of high school 1 (2002)
(A.K.A. ONE OF THE BEST SCHOOL YEARS EVER 1)
genre: FRESHMAN FOOLISHNESS
release date: SEPTEMBER 3, 2002
cast: blaze ginsberg: himself
Friend of mine and for a short time, a possible girlfriend. I met her in the summer of 2002. Is an only child. Left our school, Surrey, in the summer of 2003 because she hated it and was throwing tantrums about it like Dudley Dursley from Harry Potter. Also had a lot of crying cases in My Freshman Year of High School. Liked Marvin Gaye and pretty much agreed with me about everything. If there was anything I did not like, she did not like it either.
Played herself in 2002's My Freshman Year as a girlfriend (not romantic) of mine. Later played herself in the series Blaze, Courtney, and Amber. Claims she rescued me on my tenth birthday in 1997 when I ran away from home. In September 2002 I reunited with her and we became buddies instantly. Is very sensitive to how people approach her.
Was one of my teachers at Surrey. She and her boyfriend went to high school with my uncle Bo, and they are still friends with him. She is pretty strict with her students and does not have a high tolerance level for bad behavior. One day in class she made us put our heads down like we were in kindergarten because of our bad behavior.
mr. kent: english teacher Mr. K is also serious with his students about their behavior and whatnot. Mr. K really goes into detail when reading a story, like when we read The Body by Stephen King. I asked Mr. K why a character was crying over something small in the book and Mr. K told me it was because he (the character) never cried when his brother died. Mr. K got me interested in reading certain books like The Perks of Being a Wallflower. He is very into literature.
ms. kennedy: speech therapist Speech therapist at Surrey. Very nice and caring, and she always wants everything to be the best it can be. She and I met when I was having a problem with another teacher one day and we became friends from there.
jane: occupational therapist The Surrey School occupational therapist. Was very close to me. I liked her from very early on because of her personality. She really liked the stories I wrote when we were working together. She also had kind of a low tolerance level for bad/insubordinate behavior.
dr. r: counselor
various friends: themselves
My first year at The Surrey School (a.k.a. My Freshman Year of High School) may be number 1 in my top two best school years to ever exist in human civilization (for me that is). The Surrey School is a special school for kids with learning differences/those who are not able to function in a regular school. The classes are very small (only about ten kids per class) and there are only about 100 kids altogether in the school. I was at The Surrey School for many reasons, but mostly because middle school was a total disaster. In my other schools before this there were very few teachers who cared and were willing to work with people like me.
At Surrey, things really made a big turnaround from the way school used to be. This year was something unforgettable and legendary beyond conceivable knowledge because it really changed the way school had been for me for the past ten years. Prior to this year, I never really liked school too much, and most of the time I didn't really want to be there. Freshman year changed everything. Even though I had teacher issues and got sent out/was in trouble a lot, this was a good year because I was slowly starting to become a grown-up, hanging out with homies, talking to girls, and thinking about my future. Also this was a good year because I was starting to interact with other people more than I had in the past. Although I didn't realize it at the time, the ten years of school before Surrey were kind of depressing because I was really too much inside my own self and not relating to other people. So even though my interactions with people during my freshman year at Surrey were sometimes negative, at least I was having interactions.
air date: SEPTEMBER 3, 2002
It is my first day of high school and it is somewhat nerve-racking. I enter the school before class starts. I see Courtney but turn away from her because I am feeling shy. Later on I report to class. My day starts off with Physical Science. I am a bit spacey because I have not had to sit and listen in class for quite some time. It ends all right. After that I report to Math and I need a VTO (voluntary time out) because I am antsy and need to walk around. I am allowed ten minutes and then I go back. The teacher has an aide named Rebecca; I work with her on the math. Later I go to class for RL (reading/language). It is not too great because I have been struggling with the teacher since the summer session. (I had taken Summer School at Surrey in June as a trial period to see if I would be able to go there or not). Then it is time for English. I feel a bit anxious (or, as I call it, "tight") because it's still the first day of school, but nonetheless it's fine. Then I go to lunch. After lunch, I report to PE. We play football, run laps, and it is pretty fun. Later I report to Tutorial and it is fun, although I do not do any of my homework which is what tutorial is for.
me: "Can I get a VTO, please?"
(Teacher writes one up)
me: (seeing that the VTO paper says "Student Referral"): "What? I'm in trouble?"
teacher: "Oh no, that's just what it says. It's fine, it's a VTO."
A VTO is when you get ten minutes to leave class and walk around the school or sit on the bench to chill yourself out. You get one VTO per class per week. If you abuse the privilege, by staying out of class for too long, you get sent to the office and get your VTOs temporarily suspended.
"Bird of Beauty" by Stevie Wonder (Fulfillingness' First Finale 1974) This song plays because it goes really well with running laps. I like the way it makes me feel.
title: FIRST COUNSELING SESSION
air date: SEPTEMBER 5, 2002
Today I have my first counseling session of the year with my counselor, Dr. R. I tell him I am mad at Courtney for not saying good-bye to me when I was on the bus yesterday afternoon. He tells me about the school policy where you can leave campus at lunchtime if you are approved for it and don't take advantage of the policy by not coming back.
Dr. R was my first counselor at Surrey. I saw him once a week for counseling, other times as needed if I was having a problem with something. His attitude was very calm but jokey. We played board games such as Sorry! etc. to help me with social skills.
me: "Can you actually walk down to the beach when you are at school?"
dr. r: "Yes, but you can't go in the water."
(Later, as we arrive back on campus)
me: "I'm mad at Courtney."
dr. r: "Why?"
me: "Because I yelled 'good-bye' to her and she didn't respond."
dr. r: "She probably didn't hear you."
"Kings of the Highway" by Chris Isaak (Heart Shaped World 1989) This song plays because it has a sad, cloudy sound and it reminds me of the weather that day and how Courtney didn't hear me when I called her.
title: OLD UNKNOWN TIMES
air date: SEPTEMBER 2002
In Tutorial I meet a girl named Amber who says she knew me from earlier when I was in kindergarten. I don't remember this. We get to know each other pretty well this period. She reminds me that she used to live across the street from me.
Amber and I used to go to school with a girl in a wheelchair who Amber did not like because the girl always honked her wheelchair horn, was bratty, and ran over Amber's toe.
Some episodes do not have an exact air date, just the month and year when they aired. This is because I don't always remember the exact date of some of these episodes (even though I am generally really good with dates).
title: IT'S A YOUNG HIGH SCHOOL WORLD
air date: SEPTEMBER 13, 2002
My OT Jane and I are scheduled to have our first meeting today. It goes really well. We play Ping-Pong, then we go to the computer lab to write two stories called The Boy Who Hated Bagels and The Girl Who Hated Turnips. Jane gets a kick out of it and we become friends.
I met Jane at my middle school in the spring of 2001.
An OT is an occupational therapist. The OT does exercises, strength tests, and computer skills to improve my fine motor skills and gross motor skills. Mostly we work on fine motor skills and typing. Jane wanted me to practice "home row" on the keyboard and I did it, but reluctantly because I thought it was too hard for me.
The Boy Who Hated Bagels was based on a real-life incident from years ago that was still bothering me that day.
The real-life bagel incident happened one day in 1994 when I was having a bagel for breakfast. Mom said that unless I finished eating the bagel, I would not get a ride to school. I did not end up finishing the bagel, and so I had to walk to school and was miserable about that. The misery of this incident suddenly came back to me in 2002 and I kept thinking about it.
"Is It Love" by Play (Play 2002)
"Forever Young" by Alphaville (Forever Young 1984)
"Is It Love" plays during the scene where Jane and I are playing Ping-Pong because of the great bond between us. "Forever Young" plays because I am happy when I am writing my stories and it shows how silly I am.
title: LIFE IS TOO SHORT
air date: SEPTEMBER 18, 2002
Geoff Z and I are having lunch together today. Geoff Z and I are just becoming friends. He is friendly and he always goes along with me when I get silly. We make up stories about the Brady Bunch and other topics. It is really fun but gets out of control when Geoff says he turned Marcia into spaghetti.
Geoff Z likes me to say his full name over and over because he likes the way it sounds. He also says "Classic" every time I say his name.
me: "One day I went to Vons and my grandmother was driving and she took the exit I don't like out of the parking lot. Has anything like that ever happened to you?"
geoff: "My grandmother ran my mother over."
me: "No way, man."
(A few minutes later)
me: "Once upon a time Jan and Marcia Brady were run over by a bus."
geoff: "I cut Marcia Brady up and made spaghetti out of her."
I don't always know whether people are joking or not. I speak to Déja when I get uncomfortable about this.
"All My Love" by Led Zeppelin (In Through The Out Door 1979)
title: FIRST TEST
air date: SEPTEMBER 2002
I have a test in Physical Science today. It goes fine, but it is a little stressful.
The test was on positive and negative charges of atoms.
I did not pass.
title: COURTNEY'S FIRST CRYING CASE
air date: OCTOBER 3, 2002
There is another test in Physical Science today. We are preparing to take it. Mr. Heart, the teacher, is absent today. Courtney and another student named David keep feuding like five-year-olds and it does not stop. They keep digging and the hole between them starts to go deeper. Finally, David blows up and hits Courtney's hat and she hangs her head on the table. I nervously (because Courtney may start crying, which she did) go to find Coach Brian. I go outside to the bench to take the test and then I see Courtney in tears, walking with a speech therapist (not Ms. Kennedy).
David also kicked Courtney's desk a few times and made it rock. Courtney and David had a very complex relationship. There were times when David would be yelling at Courtney and Courtney would be trying to get his attention.
david: "Hey, shut up!" (Kicks her desk)
courtney (crying): "Life is just like this. Nobody likes me these days."
Courtney seemed to get under people's skin. She wasn't very popular.
Crying was definitely a theme for this episode: Lauren, a senior, also had a crying case (from hunger) that day.
"More Than You Know" by Anita Baker (Compositions 1990)
This song plays because I have been through a lot with people crying and I feel the same way as Anita does in her song when she says she is wasting her time.
title: THE REPORTS
air date: OCTOBER 7, 2002
Mr. Heart has returned to see how the class was while he was away. Obviously he will not be getting a very good report because of the incident that occurred between Courtney and David.
courtney: "You hit me and I cried."
david: "I hit your hat."
Mr. Heart flies hot air balloons. He told the class that he has a balloon and takes it out for flights and takes other people along with him. I am hoping that he will take me out in his balloon but worry that Mom won't sign a permission slip to let me. When I was twelve, I started to really want to go up in a hot air balloon. We see them all the time as they take off near our house. Mom said that if I ate a sandwich (which I don't like), she would go in a hot air balloon with me. But I could not agree to the deal and still have not eaten a sandwich. So I was concerned that if there were ever a hot air balloon field trip, she would not let me go.
title: FIRST SEND-OUT
air date: OCTOBER 2002
Today in Science I am very talkative and not behaving very well. I get my three warnings. Finally Mr. Heart has to send me out because I am disrupting class. I report to the office and I cry about it briefly then go for a walk with Jesse the TA. I also talk to the camper staff about life.
My friend Julia noticed me today.
The camper is in the parking lot. That is where the high school exit exam is given, where IEP meetings are held, and where the staff sometimes have lunch. The camper staff is anyone who is on duty in the camper for the day.
"Complicated" by Avril Lavigne (Let Go 2002)
This song plays because this was my first ever send-out and the first time I was ever in this tight situation.
title: COURTNEY'S SECOND CRYING CASE
air date: OCTOBER 16, 2002
We are in Science Lab today as we are every Wednesday. We are doing our routine as usual when Courtney starts crying. I do get a little bit weirded out when I hear what she sounds like. She goes to sit in front of the office.
This time Courtney was crying because of home problems.
Courtney's crying had a lot of moaning in it, which eventually rose to screaming.
mr. heart: "Courtney, go sit in front of the office." (Later, outside the office)
me: "Courtney, why were you crying?"
courtney: "Stuff going on at home."
air date: OCTOBER 2002
I go to visit the Lower School during lunchtime (this is a routine I have now developed). Lower School is grade 5–6 at the south end of the campus. I've started going down there to explore the school a little more when I am finished with all the other stuff that I do during lunch, such as eating and talking to Courtney. I greet the students and hang out in their classroom on their rocking chair and eat some candy. There are students working or playing on the computers in the room. I see a fifth grade student I know who is on the fifth level of Bugdom. I congratulate her. She tells me there is a cheat code to get past the levels.
We owned Bugdom back in 2000 until the computer we had it on crashed.
me (talking to fifth grader): "I'm proud of you."
"Art Decade" by David Bowie (Low 1977)
I don't have a problem with uncontrollable change (which is when something happens that has never happened before), but sometimes I do have a problem with sudden change (which is when something expected happens in a different way than usual). When that happens, I get the vibe of this song. I didn't realize that anyone could get past level 3 on Bugdom without working through it. This was the change.
Excerpted from Episodes by Blaze Ginsberg. Copyright © 2009 Blaze Ginsberg. Excerpted by permission of Roaring Brook Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Meet the Author
Blaze Ginsberg has been writing short stories, poems, and songs since the age of nine. In 2006, he began writing his own book, a memoir that covers his years in high school and his first steps toward adulthood. Inspired by Internet episode guides such as imdb.com and TV.com, his memoir, EPISODES, describes his life as a series of TV shows in which he's appeared. Blaze puts it this way: "I started watching PBS kids' shows on TV when I was three years old and liked them very much from the start. They gave me my true voice out there in the world. I would imitate actions and situations I saw on the shows. Sometimes I let the shows speak for me when I didn't know how to say things myself. So the TV shows were like a stand-in for me." Blaze currently lives and attends college in San Diego.
Blaze has been writing short stories, poems, and songs since the age of nine. In 2006, he began writing his own book, a memoir that covers his years in high school and his first steps toward adulthood. Inspired by Internet episode guides such as imdb.com and TV.com, his memoir, EPISODES, describes his life as a series of TV shows in which he’s appeared. Blaze puts it this way: “I started watching PBS kids’ shows on TV when I was three years old and liked them very much from the start. They gave me my true voice out there in the world. I would imitate actions and situations I saw on the shows. Sometimes I let the shows speak for me when I didn’t know how to say things myself. So the TV shows were like a stand-in for me.” Blaze currently lives and attends college in San Diego.
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