For most people the holidays are a fun and happy time of year. Many enjoy getting together with family and friends and doing stuff. I’ve never counted myself among this group and I don’t think there will ever come a point when I do. Lately I’ve been reading a lot about introverted and extroverted personalities, routines, stress disorders, and Asperger’s disease. I used to think that I was just an introverted person because I don’t like people. I never have. Don’t get me wrong there are people that are exceptions to this rule, but they are few and far between. I really don’t see a point in getting together with other people and doing, well, anything. I used to think that this was just part of being an introvert. Then I realized that almost everything that I do during the course of my day is done to avoid interacting with other people. From the routes I take at school to where I sit in class to what I do in between classes, it’s all done to avoid people. It’s not the one-on-one situations that bother me. I’m a great one-on-one person. If you run into me in the halls or whatever you’ll probably think I’m an awesome conversationalist, but add one more person to that scenario and your perception of me will completely change.
When you struggle through something you start to think back to when it all “began” as if everything in life has a logical beginning and end point. I started wondering to myself if I had always had such a problem interacting with others and I was surprised by the answers. When it comes to the good things in my life everything comes in twos. It’s always me and someone else, never me and two other people or three other people. It sounds strange to the outside observer because most people can get along in a group or what have you. I can “get along” in a group, but only if it is me and one other person making all of the decisions. I was told growing up that this represented “leadership skills” when really it represented my inability to follow directions and my inability to work with others. My attitude is so intransigent that you cannot change my mind about anything. Some call it stubbornness. My sister is stubborn, my dad can be stubborn, my grandpa was stubborn, it makes sense that I would be stubborn, but that’s not all it is with me. I refuse to look at things from the perspective that others want me to view them from because I hold the view that nothing in life has a beginning or an end when you think about it. Everything just sort of meanders through time occasionally interweaving with other people, places, things, or events. Things don’t happen for a reason things just happen.
I had a teacher last semester who was really big into how we got here and what awaits us on the other side. He was a philosopher. It was a sad sight. I truly do feel bad for those who try to make something out of nothing because they are perpetuating a false dichotomy of ideas that will only lead to a misunderstanding at some point in time. Sure the extremely talented writers among us can find a way to search for patterns and perhaps someone can find a pattern within various events, but that doesn’t prove anything and anyone who tells you otherwise is either hopelessly optimistic or just flat out lying. There are questions we’ll never know the answers to: who are we? How did we get here? What happens next? If we knew the answers to these questions Hollywood would be out of business and all of our lives would be ruined. Imagine a world where there is no “Homeland” and no new James Bond movies. Terrifying, right?
It first occurred to me that something might be wrong when I started doing my work for next semester the day after finals. Who goes to their professors before the semester starts and asks: “do you have a syllabus? I’d really like to get started on the reading.” One teacher actually sat me down and said: “this isn’t normal.” I listened to what he had to say (well half-listened, as I always do) and was grateful that I was able to negotiate the first six assignments from him. He did this on one condition however. He said that he wouldn’t mind if I read our textbook cover to cover for next semester over “break” (who takes breaks?) so long as I read another book. He wanted me to read the Complete Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome. I promptly agreed and I didn’t give his proposal another thought. Then the day after finals, I started doling out the reading that I would need to do to stay on track for next semester and I took a glance at the book about Asperger’s. Wow was I flummoxed. In the first two chapters there are checklists that you can look at if you think someone you know may be suffering from the disease. The checklists named three things that a typical Asperger’s sufferer might do and said that if the person suffered from one of the three they probably suffered from the disease. Imagine my shock and horror when I realized that I suffered from all three in each category.
The book begins with a story about a little boy at a birthday party. He doesn’t want to socialize with anyone (he’s only six years old) no all he wants to do is talk to the mother of the boy whose birthday it is about batteries. His father collected them and he took an interest in collecting batteries. Not just any batteries mind you. This kid didn’t have brand loyalty or anything, he wasn’t collecting Duracells to piss off the Energizer bunny, no he collected Russian batteries. The mother recalled the boy as being extremely gifted, of above average intelligence, but lacking the social skills of someone half his age. That’s not saying a lot for someone who is just six years old, but when you get to be twenty-eight you start to think about things like that. I have been studying history like a professor since I went to my first Civil War re-enactment when I was in seventh grade. At the age of twelve I was reading college level textbooks and committing speeches delivered not only by Abraham Lincoln but by William Seward and Salmon Chase to memory. Just your average twelve year old, right? Just an ordinary Christmas.