Challenges with priortizing…paperwork,etc.

Originally posted this on our Facebook group but then decided it was probably a blog-worth topic;

Another one of those “don’t know if it’s a me thing or an Aspie thing…” but I’m just gonna put it out there. It seems like ever since college and maybe before and definitely down to the present, whenever I collect paperwork, information, details about upcoming events, whatever, I have a hard time knowing how to prioritize it, so what I will typically do is leave it lying open faced on a dresser, or ottoman, or some other flat service. In college, I would usually chuck it face up into one of my dorm room desk drawers, with the good intention to get back to it. In college, it became a ritual at the end of the semester to clean out said desk drawer as part of the dormitory check-out process. I would comb through all these fliers, printouts, etc and some of it I would recall having gone through with and enjoyed, while some of it I apparently forgot about and missed completely and would chide myself for not having remembered said event, etc.

At home today I do much the same, until my dresser/ottoman, etc, become cluttered with too much paperwork then I go back and carefully sift through all these documents, fliers, etc. Most of it can be safely tossed either into paper recycling or (if it contains sensitive personal info) into the shredder. Very little of it actually deserves to have a file folder created and filed away into my permanent records filing cabinet. I’m currently in the middle of just such a “Spring cleaning” process and in the middle of recycling and shredding various things. I think I set some of these things aside because their mere existence makes me ancy and I’m just not quite sure what to do with them at the time. I have a vague sense that they could be important but am unsure of how to act from there. Does this happen to any of you?

Likewise, try as I might to organize my shoes neatly in the closet, over time I become lazy and once again they get scattered all over the floor in pairs, ready for me to step into whichever pair may be appropriate for the particular outing I am going to….I will probably put them all away soon (again), but I have little doubt that over time they’ll all be back out on the floor again. Terrible habit, wish I could be more self disciplined about this.

One strategy that I’ve found to be successful is bringing my latest bills, book of stamps, and checkbook with me to work; we have a basket for “outgoing stamped mail” at my workplace…when it comes round to that time of the month, I sit there in my cubicle and pay my bills while waiting for my computer to boot up, etc, for the day. I find I always procrastinate and wait until the last minute with bills if I leave them lying around at home and try to pay them while I’ve got all the other distractions of home to grab my attention. When I can knock them out right before the workday starts, I feel like I accomplished something and am less stressed about it later.

Also, I can always rely on my mother to chide me for doing (possibly fun) activity X instead of more productively spending doing (useful, helpful, though often tedious and boring) activity Y.  Gee, thanks, mom.  This usually happens on weekends and is part of the price I pay for not living independently of my parents.


Social media, Aspergian social anxiety

I read an update on Google+ that a friend and fellow Aspergian has decided to withdraw from ALL social media, including Google+.  While I understand it, this saddens me.  I’m actually not on Google+ that terribly often.  I tend to hang out on Facebook.  But I always enjoyed this person’s occasional posts to Google+.  Another fellow Aspergian of my acquaintance, who is a mental health professional, swears by Google+ in preference to Facebook, stating that the average I.Q. on Google+ is far above that of the average Facebook user.  I use it sparingly, mainly because I don’t find it nearly as intuitive or user friendly as Facebook.

Social media, as I’ve alluded to before, can be a double-edged sword for us.  It can help us connect to other ASD people, which can be a positive experience.  Some ASD people swear by Wrong Planet, but I never really got into it all that much.  Some of our blogging collective members here even had less than positive experiences there.  I think perhaps it got a much needed boost when Kirsten Lindsmith joined it; she wrote some interesting posts there that I followed for a time, but my center of gravity revolves around Facebook, where I avidly follow Landon Bryce and Karla’s ASD page, and where we, members of this blogging collective, hang out in Houston Aspie Discussion on Facebook.

I have a YouTube page but stopped actively posting my own videos years ago.  I still post one every so often but I nearly never interact with other YouTube users; I ignore all comments, messages, etc.  Other people besides myself have described YouTube (and its more pernicious commentators) as “a cesspool”.  I just don’t have the patience or mental energy to deal with the YouTube community, such as it is.  I used to follow a lot of the YouTube atheists; it was my primary form of entertainment of an evening when I was still living in Denton, Texas–when I wasn’t watching Anime on rental DVD, that is.

While I have never up and #ragequit Facebook, there are times where I definitely feel the need to withdraw and give myself a “vacation” from Facebook.  Occasions where I feel like I’ve overexposed myself socially and need to pull back from the limelight for awhile.  I definitely try to avoid Facebook during times of political drama or tension on the national stage.

I still have a MySpace and even a Livejournal but nearly never use them.  I sometimes jump back on to MySpace to amuse myself.  I should just up and delete my Livejournal, though.  Nobody uses that anymore–not really–am I right?

I play around on Twitter but I really only barely understand what I’m doing.  I live tweet during Houston Rockets home games but seldom otherwise.  I sometimes check my Twitter feed at lunch…

Some of my twitter exploration lately; me: “Hey, I wonder if (insert name of well-known person in a particular pet interest field of mine [anime,atheism,lefty politics,etc]) is on Twitter…*searches*, oh look! *follow*…”

Twitter also provides suggestions of other people/organizations to follow based on who you’ve already decided to follow, which is also helpful.

It’s neat when someone semi-famous re-tweets your tweet or responds to one of your tweets, too.

The videos I contribute to YouTube historically have been some digitized home movies; more recently I’ve done Animations via the website; Xtranormal used to be completely free, but now it’s a pay site.  I finally broke down and bought some X.P. so I can keep using the site infrequently.  I still don’t feel comfortable using a webcam to put my actual face out there the way that Ankh does.  I still prefer to obscure my face using special effects via the webcam; I also bought voice-changing software, MorphVoxPro.  It’s designed for gamers to enhance online gameplay, and on my old PC that I had with me in Denton, Texas, I was able to get MorphVoxPro to “play nice” with my video-capture software…but alas with Windows 7, I have thusfar been unsuccessful in getting MorphVoxPro to “play nice” with either my Logitech webcam NOR with my Microsoft one’s audio-capture ability and attached USB microphone…I really dislike the sound of my own voice.  When I was able to intergrate the voice changer along with obscuring my face via Special Effects (and usually i wore sunglasses and headwear–baseball cap or painter’s hat), that arrangement was comfortable enough for me to do videos for YouTube and elsewhere in that fashion…but now that I’m not able to make that work and lack the mad computer skillz to MAKE it work, I’ve fallen back on Xtranormal and on my writing skills to put my views and opinions “out there”.

Some Aspies are more skilled than others at negotiating the internet and its various social outlets.  Some are more easily overcome by social anxieties aroused by internet interactions than others.   It can be a boon for some ASD people, but it is also quite alright to give oneself a “break” from it all, or, in the most extreme cases, to withdraw from it altogether.  I respect whatever choice works best for the individual in question.  No one can really decide that for you.

Seeming safe havens.

Academia can seem like a natural harbor or haven for an Aspie to embrace, a place to hide out against the buffeting and stress of the day to day working world and adult social world.  And it can be for a lucky few, especially for those whose talents lie in the natural sciences, engineering, or mathematics.

For those of us lacking in those areas, seeking to forge our way ahead in the liberal arts, things can take a different, less favorable turn.

It is only now, years later, that I better grasp how my Asperger’s played an enormous role in my being unable to socially relate to my academic peers and academic superiors in graduate institutions.  There’s a morose joke, too, that “The Humanities—aren’t very” (humane, that is).  In other words, despite the humanistic subject matter, the actual social world of professional, scholarly academia is very competition intensive, cut-throat and arbitrary, and all about putting out the best sounding jargon-laden B.S., etc.  I’m not so cynical as to suggest it’s all a con game, but it would be naive to deny there’s not at least an element of conniving that goes with the territory.  Academic degrees are first and foremost about credentialing, about obtaining the sheepskin and putting a valid, verifiable line on one’s C.V. or resume with respect to one’s formal education.  At times it is only merely coincidental to one’s intellectual growth…it’s nice when it does coincide, but it doesn’t inherently do so.  As I said before, the faculty at my graduate institution managed to take a topic I loved…modern German culture & history…and suck all the  joy and life out of it for me.  Instead of pursuing my own quirky passions within this field, I was tied down to following the approved reading list, the accepted Canon, yada yada, and I balked.  I played hookey from class and read what I wanted to instead of what I was assigned and assumed that I’d still get credit for all the intellectual growth and fulfillment I was feeling and experiencing, the sheer exhilarating joy if it.

Reality of course came crashing down on these naive notions and I shat out an academically acceptable Master’s thesis after a long period of mental constipation.  A sheepskin was grudgingly conferred, then I was booted off the campus, barred from further academic advancement in my original chosen field of German studies or from any further fellowship funding.

For a time I harbored fantasies of “storming the Ivory tower” once more and wresting from it a PhD.  But then I read a series of books on the actual collapsing nature of the academic job market by Cary Nelson and Michael Berube and these sobering books gave me great pause.  Sure, I could go and get a PhD, but to what end, with prospects of securing an actual academic position so exceedingly rare?  The route of obtaining an Master of Library Science along the way before getting a PhD, or perhaps one day earning a PhD in Library Science itself, seemed a more prudent course to follow.  In the end I feel as though it has all been mostly folly.

I don’t know–if I’d known of my Asperger’s sooner and the difficulties I would face in trying to make headway in Academia and in Librarianship (both of which ended  up being bitter disappointments), maybe I would’ve been more amenable to more radical lifestyles (teaching English in Taiwan or Korea, say, or the former USSR) that I shied away from and could not resolve more firmly to do because I still maintained vain hope of finding success in a more safe, sane, dependable “mainstream” job/career, etc, preferably one where my parents could not harp on my being employed in a company or profession that was “beneath me”, that I was “too smart for”, etc.  I still wonder what it would be like to teach English in Taiwan and maybe eventually move on to teaching English in Japan, say…in the meantime, I don’t mind my library job that I have, but I’m overqualified for it and also underpaid.  But it’s better than being jobless.

I don’t know if I’ll ever remarry, but I would–I think–like to give dating another try.  But it’s not an urgent priority either.

In the meantime, I stay devoted to my active reading life as best I can, continue to consume lots of Anime & Manga, and stay on top of current events, depressing as they often are.  I also welcome the times when I’m inspired by my personal muse to do things like write for this blog.  I’m no expert, just a dude with Aspergers, writing down his thoughts and experiences.  Your Mileage May Vary, even if you are also on the spectrum.

My experience with religion

Until I was about 19, my parents made my sisters and I go to church every week.  They were catholic, which means so were we officially.  I guess I still am according to the church’s records, but whatever.  I don’t know how many of you have had the “pleasure” of sitting through a catholic mass, but I want to take you through a sensory journey into my experiences.


The churches I went to were actually fairly visually pleasing.  There are always many stained glass windows depicting saints, which I found fascinating to look at because they usually show a medieval scene, and they sometimes show what that particular saint was famous in the church for.  The stage area where the priest and whoever else makes speeches/presentations is littered with altars and candles and other things that have been used by the church for hundreds of years.  Going to a catholic church is like going to a museum.  The only complaint I have is depictions of a bloody and nearly naked Jesus hanging on the cross, which the catholic church is big on.  It’s supposed to inspire reverence, but for me it just inspires disgust.


This means dealing with the ears, though when you say it, it’s hard to not sound like you’re saying “oral”.  Oh well.  When I went to church, it was usually in the morning before I’d properly woken up, and often before I’d eaten breakfast.  As a result, my hearing was quite sensitive.  One of the less pleasant features of a catholic mass is the singing of hymns by the whole congregation, which to the sensitive ears of an aspie is torture.  “WAAAAAAAAAWAAAUUUUUWAAAUUUAAAAAWAAAAAAA”  That’s what it sounds like.  And don’t get me started on the nonsense that the catholic church expects everyone to believe.  It’s so ridiculous, I should include it in the smell category too.


A catholic mass is full of interesting smells that wouldn’t be bad on their own in small doses, but in overwhelming amounts, they are awful.  First you have the perfume and cologne worn by the parishioners, which is often overzealously applied.  I think they do it so nobody can tell who the person is who put on too much perfume.  When it’s everybody, you can’t really point a finger at anyone in particular.  Then there’s the incense, the worst smell culprit.  I’ve smelled incense that was very good, but for some reason the catholic church has decided that the holiest incense smells like burning tires.


Fortunately, I was never molested by a priest.  That is because I was not an altar boy.  But I did have to spend an hour or so sitting still, standing up, sitting still, standing up, kneeling, standing, sitting, kneeling, and then standing up one more time just for good measure.  I don’t remember the exact order of it, but expecting a little kid to play Simon says before he’s really awake is cruel and annoying.


The only thing I liked about going to church was that sometimes we would get to go to a different room after mass and have donuts and punch that they provided.  When I was 12 or 13 I did communion, which means eating the wafer that’s supposedly magically transformed into the flesh of Jesus and optionally drinking the wine that’s supposedly magically transformed into the blood of Jesus.  The wafers were tasteless but had a decent texture, and I was never into wine, so I stopped going for that soon after I started.  But really, what a disgusting ritual.  Of course, the catholic church didn’t invent cannibalistic rituals, just like they didn’t invent most of their dogma.  They stole it from pagans.

Of course, it wasn’t any of this that drove me to atheism.  It was when I actually started listening to what the priest was saying during his speech time, or homily, that I started seeing problems with christianity.  We aspies tend to be brutally logical, and when someone stands in front of me and spouts idiotic absurdities, I just can’t help but raise an eyebrow.  A perfect and infinitely merciful being is willing to torture me forever unless I believe that he took human form and allowed himself to be murdered?  I’m not an idiot.  I can’t believe that.


I’m not a huge RUSH geek, but they are on my list of favorite bands, though I tend to like their biggest hits and am not well versed in their entire ouvre. One of my stand-out favorite songs is this one:


Sprawling on the fringes of the city
In geometric order
An insulated border
In between the bright lights
And the far unlit unknown

Growing up it all seems so one-sided
Opinions all provided
The future pre-decided
Detached and subdivided
In the mass production zone
Nowhere is the dreamer or the misfit so alone

In the high school halls
In the shopping malls
Conform or be cast out
In the

basement bars
In the backs of cars
Be cool or be cast out
Any escape might help to smooth the unattractive truth
But the suburbs have no charms to soothe the restless dreams of youth

Drawn like moths we drift into the city
The timeless old attraction
Cruising for the action
Lit up like a firefly
Just to feel the living night

Some will sell their dreams for small desires
Or lose the race to rats
Get caught in ticking traps
And start to dream of somewhere
To relax their restless flight
Somewhere out of a memory of lighted streets on quiet nights…


It is a song first and foremost about alienation; a common experience of most youth, NT or Autistic.  A common experience that most NTs learn to grow out of but for most autistics it remains a basic fact of life.
I’m currently reading Temple Grandin’s Animals in Translation as an audiobook on my daily commute.  It’s really quite good and very thought provoking.  But it also hammers home to me the awareness that unlike Temple, I am NOT a visual thinker like she is, but rather a “verbal” Aspie.  As such, I suppose by some measures that puts me “closer” to neurotypical than other Aspies.  Which one might suppose is preferable, but…what it often means is that I feel just as alienated from other Aspies as I do from NTs, because my life experiences are sometimes quite markedly different than theirs.  There are, nevertheless certain congruences I do share with other autistics; In the current chapter I’m reading, Temple Grandin discusses how animals and Autistics tend to be “Splitters”, hyper-focused on differences and distinctions between things, whilst most neurotypical people are “Lumpers”, or generalizers, who at times are guilty of overgeneralizing….my NT adoptive father overgeneralizes a great deal, and it often annoys me greatly.  Of course, from his point of view, I’m a “hair splitter”, obsessed with little differences that don’t/shouldn’t matter and failing to take in the big picture.  Sometimes there’s just no way for us to see eye to eye, so to speak.  I don’t care about his big picture because the constituent parts that make it up are wrong, full of hasty overgeneralizations, etc.

Temple also takes neurotypical “verbal” thinkers to task, and I realize I’m guilty of a lot of the same faults, often lost in verbal abstractions of my own making, etc.  I do have to give her props as a visually based autistic person in better being able to view and interact with the real world and not being blinded by one’s own verbal abstractions.  Temple is definitely a very concrete person/thinker.  Her record of success in the Cattle industry speaks for itself.

I wish there were other/more “verbal” Aspies out there writing and speaking that I could latch on to and examine because there are times when I’m reading Temple Grandin’s works that I feel like I have all the major faults of NTs but hardly any of the cooler advantages of most Aspies and other autistics.  I know that my strengths lie in my strong facility with learning foreign languages, which is incredibly easy and interesting for me, and I also have a very good ear for music.  Had I known of my diagnosis much earlier in life, I might’ve trained to become a competent sound engineer for a recording studio, say.  I’m very well read, and I still think that despite my general social awkwardness that I could still be an effective and helpful reference librarian.  I do still like working in Interlibrary Loan, and so wouldn’t rule out becoming a Librarian in the ILL field at a University someday, perhaps.  I feel as though I just can’t abide the direction that the Cataloging side of Librarianship is going and I’m just too out of practice now to jump back in to that area.  It doesn’t help that along the way I’ve been snubbed and abused by unsympathetic neurotypical library managers that didn’t understand me or even want to understand me.

I’m grateful to my fellow co-authors here on this blog, many of whom I know and interact with in real life.  I’m grateful for a job that allows me to zone out and listen to lots of quality audio content in the form of audiobooks and podcasts; I also listen to audiobooks in my car on CD during my daily commute to and from work, which is how I am absorbing the Temple Grandin book.  I actually read Temple’s follow-up book first, namely Animals Make Us Human, which I read as a book on tape, when I was still driving a car with a dashboard tape-deck.  I have a large list of nonfiction audiobooks that I want to read this year.  It’s a personal achievement goal of mine to always be teaching myself in this manner, always autodidatically seeking out avenues of self-improvement through expanding knowledge.

One of the most interesting parts of Animals in Translation that I’ve read so far is where Temple directly challenges the theory of Steven Pinker, who avers that music is a leftover bit of needless evolutionary baggage.  Temple disagrees, and proceeds to lay out a good case as why this view may be incorrect.  I’m very much looking forward to reading Steven Pinker’s How the Mind Works (also in audiobook format) but will keep Temple’s critiques very much in mind when I do.  I think I am going to recommend Animals in Translation to neurotypical friends in the Freethought community who are interested in human cognition, as Temple’s ability to lay out and contrast the differences between NT brains and autistic brains (and animal brains) is fascinating and ought to be of interested to any freethinking humanist interested in evolutionary psychology, etc.

Anyway, please forgive the random rambling nature of this post, which I will now draw to a close for now as I’ve a basketball game to get back to watching 😉