So my new friend – we’ll call her Emily – is on the autism spectrum and, after knowing me for a month or so, thinks I am too.
Initially I dismissed her clinical, off-the-cuff diagnosis. Dude, I am definitely not on the spectrum. Andy, maybe. Not me. But then she stated her case, and I gotta admit it’s pretty good…the idea being that Asperger peeps tend to be hyper-interested in a chosen few topics, accumulating a great heapshit of knowledge and sharing said knowledge at every available opportunity.
Hmmmm let’s see. Me and Laura Ingalls Wilder (on February 7, 2017 it will be her 150th birthday). Me and Elfquest (Just today I tweeted my admiration for Wendy Pini’s artwork –and, um, yeah. Their logo is my tattoo). Me and Guster (I’ve seen them more times than the Grateful Dead. Which is a lot). On and on I can inform you about any of these. In minute detail. Joyfully!
And that sometimes people on the spectrum have difficulty applying appropriate filters to the world – both when taking in, and spitting out, information.
My recent freak out over that nasty comment. The necessity of a code word inside my head to silence myself: “SUA” (Shut Up, Amy). All the endless ways I’ve made a verbal ass out of myself, geeked out, and otherwise toe-tasted open mouth, insert foot style.
Then, too, autistics typically love routine and order, lists, details, patterns…and can become micro-focused, lost in thoughts or music or art. It seemed the more I researched manifestations of high-functioning autism, the more I saw myself..
…and the way I know everyone’s birthday and, for years, carefully noted them all on the calendar during late December for timely card-sending the following year. Those pattern recognition questions on IQ tests, always way easy for me. And how the Catholic Mass was a soothing ritual from which, as a child, I damn near astral projected.
The way I love beaded jewelry, crafting the very beads themselves from paper, compartmentalized containers separating them by size and color. And how I alphabetize my books by author, happy to simply regard them in rows upon neatly lined-up shelves. Delighting in dates like pi day or May 6, 1978 at thirty-four minutes past noon: 12345678.
The way music pulls from me emotion so strong I weep. How, as a youngster in the 70s, my dad washed the car by hand while streams of water collected at the bottom of the driveway into a single little river – and how I followed that little river’s venture down the street to the fascinating storm drain.
Hell, the way I’m constructed this very blog post with its carefully inserted links to songs, photography, artwork, and information you don’t care about.
Of course it really doesn’t matter at this point in my life whether I am on the autism spectrum or if I’m just assigning meaning to the random. I guess I just find it interesting that, though I’m no spring chicken, there are still these kinds of surprises about myself – and it was an eye-opening experience to hear how Emily came to her conclusions.
Either way, beneath all my rambling is the fifth anniversary of Boo’s life at Anderson. Five years ago today we packed up Andy’s car and drove him away from the house where I sit and type this. The house I’ve never, ever, not even once brought him back to see, though we’ve driven on the road two streets down in order to go see train. I just can’t hear his little voice ask for “home?” again. And anyway I don’t want him to remember, even though he probably does, clearly enough – hell, the kid remembers babysitters he hasn’t seen in half his life, randomly asking for them by name. For whatever the reason, this 5-year anniversary bothered me more the other day than it does right now.
In so many ways he’s a wonder, my Jonah Russ. I’m making him a music mix, in part based on reader recommendations, and will be taking bets when it’s done as to which tracks he settles on and subsequently asks for.
Feel free to continue with song recommendations; Jonah will listen to anything at all for at least a few seconds, anyway. Based on this information, you’d think the song would need a really catchy intro to spark his interest, but his auditory preferences defy logic in this way as in many others.
I do think Andy’s mother is on to something with her suggestion of Mockingbird by Carly Simon and James Taylor. And I’m definitely including George Thoroughgood’s I Drink Alone, if only for the ragin’ guitar intro. I’ve also been introduced to new (to me) songs. For instance, I’d never even once heard Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show. And though my love of oldies + a penchant for Family Guy introduced me long ago to Surfin’ Bird, when performed by the Ramones it’s a messier, more Jonah-esque song.
This will entertain me for the next few days or weeks – however long it takes.