In my head
I repeat our conversations
Over and over
Till they feel like hallucinations
You know me:
I love to lose my mind
It’s less than a week before I have to leave Melbourne, and so much has changed.
I landed and was whisked away to the Windsor Hotel, a beautiful, historic bit of miniature castle, where we had a gorgeous view of Parliament and breakfast in bed and high tea.
We’ve been down to the beach…
And I’ve taken lots of photos of flowers around our neighborhood:
We learned a valuable lesson (and watched a damn lot of Glee):
And then I learned about a medical program that will want me, no strings attached, in Sydney.
I want to go, very much, and could apply next year and sit the Australian version of the MCAT in February. We need to speak to immigration lawyers, I need to get Prosper cleared for immigration. Everything is suddenly on an impossibly fast timeline. I’m in a mild panic.
I wanted to maybe move with the wonderful Sarah to Baltimore, but I’m concerned I won’t be able to get a job that pays enough in just a few months in a new, big, expensive city. I wanted to move to Atlanta, though less than I did a couple months ago. I wanted to live with my mom, even though the idea mildly nauseates me, because it’d be cheap and require little effort. I’m not sure what I am going to do, but it’ll be something. So at least I’ve made the decision to act, and not let the inertia get to me–and that’s the most important step.
Jezebel posted earlier about loneliness, which got me thinking about loneliness and the difference and overlap between autism, introversion, loneliness, and depression. They all have some overlap, in the sadness one can feel about being alone, but they are also all dramatically different.
Introversion and extroversion are the endpoints of a spectrum all people are on, weighted towards the extroversion end (that is to say, many more people are extroverted than introverted; if a Kinsey-type scale is used with 0 being absolute extroversion and 6 being absolute introversion, most people fall in the 1-2 range). Extroversion is the state of being refreshed and energized by other people, crowds, friendships. Introversion is the state of being refreshed and energized by time alone. On my hypothetical scale, I’d say I’m about a 4.5 to 5–definite introvert, but not a hermit.
Autism is a type of cognitive style. It can be barely noticable or well-masked, or prevent most forms of communication. It is no more inherently disabling than any other cognitive style, save that we are not societally set-up to accomodate intellectual differences any more than we (really) are for physical differences. We assume that speaking, signing, writing–using words–is the ultimate goal of communication, rather than communication being the goal unto itself. We assume that whatever our existence is, all others must be unsatisfactory. We assume that everyone must have similar goals. We assume that everyone must have access to the information we have access to (like nonverbal communication or tone–but, funnily enough, this assumption when present in spectrumites becomes a symptom of a problem!). These assumptions as a society can absolutely be disabling for those on the spectrum, but the cognitive style itself is not. Autistics can be introverted or extroverted, though I suspect we tend towards the introversion due to sensory overloading and poor social skills.
All people–autistic, neurotypical, otherwise neurodiverse, introverts, extroverts–need connections to other people. It may be so difficult to overcome different cognitive styles that we go without, willingly or unwillingly, but we still need others to communicate with and recieve and give affection.
Loneliness is the gap between what we need, and what we get.
Introverts, if the comments on Jez are any indication, seem to think that they are above loneliness, because they need aloneness. I don’t think this could be father from the truth. Introverts need affection and respect and communication from other people, the same as extroverts. We all need these things, and perhaps this is another spectrum: some people need a lot and some just a little, and most people somewhere in between, a perfect bell-curve. What I think happens for those introverts who never feel lonely is that their personal connection requirements are quite low, and so easily met.
I need aloneness. I crave it, and seek it out. Being alone allows me to think, to perseverate, to relax, to experience all of the emotions I have collected over a day and not realized I was missing. But being alone can also lead to loneliness. I am a creature of habit; there are days I only eat broccoli and coffee and there are days I don’t speak to anyone aloud except the cat. There is a line between aloneness that is good for me, and loneliness, but I can’t find it–it moves, I think, with my emotions and physical sensations and even with my thoughts. It’s easy to cross over that line and only realize it some time later, when the loneliness begins to gnaw at me and I finally notice. Like many feelings, I suspect I feel it much earlier than I am aware of feeling it. I need connections to other people, because I am human. Being autistic, being an introvert doesn’t quell that need. Depression is where loneliness is so pervasive there is no longer a drive to seek out that contact, that connection.
I don’t know how I’m going to make friends in Atlanta, but I am beginning to recognize that it is not just something I would like, but something I will need.
Prosper is sick of travelling. However, he came home with a lovely consolation prize.
At the start of February, I escaped the second of back-to-back snowstorms with a meandering trip down to Atlanta to see Dad and Ron. The cat came along and stayed with Mik, which Prosper was less than enthused about.
This is what I was escaping:
So the cat went to Greensboro to trial run being away from his Mama for a while (he’ll be staying with Mik and/or Mom while I’m in Australia), and I went down to Atlanta.
It promptly snowed, because I am the Bringer of Ragnarok.
Then I came back to Mom’s and rescued my kitten. He was very pleased.
Then we came home, and I got new shoes. The box has been his favourite toy (of course) for a couple of days. Well, besides the Beloved Mousie.
First of all, I think that this expresses my current mood best. There is a box of sugar cookies behind me, taunting.
True story: I once made Dylan a sugar cookie fiend out of fleece and it plays the sugar cookies rampage. I am aware that you are stunned at my awesome.
I’m also currently stunned at my awesome, for altogether different reasons. I shall elaborate.
So, my job sucks. This is actually not true. I like most of the individual elements of my job (medical filing, working with kids, working with kids who’re autistic or crazy or sad, playing on the internet all night), but there are two parts that suck: the fact that my shift is night shift, and the fact that I cannot stand my coworkers. I’m really not sure if it’s an autism thing or a smart thing (or if I could separate the two anyway), but I find them endlessly tedious with their social games and talking about things which do not hold any interest for me. This has been a long-standing and escalating complaint, from “You know, I really don’t have anything in common with these people” to “Not only do I not have anything in common with them, but I wish they’d stop telling me about their kids and little league and parking tickets–even I can tell someone doesn’t want to listen if they put on headphones, so why can’t they just shut up when I do it?” to “OMG STFU I AM WATCHING HOUSE” to my sobbing on the phone to my mom last Sunday morning that I really didn’t think I could come back in Tuesday (that would be right now, as I’m typing–technically Wednesday morning, but that doesn’t count).
She came up with a brilliant suggestion: move to Atlanta. My dad lives there, and will gladly put me up. I can quit this job in 4 months when my lease is up, move to Greensboro temporarily while I clean the apartment and then go to Melbourne, and then finish moving southward and get a job there. It’s a very big city–my favourite kind!–and full of healthcare related shit and IR shit, so I should be able to find something.
I’m scared, because my only friends are Kit, Stina, and Dylan, and I won’t have any of them. But this is why there is an internet. (This is also why there is an internet.) I will hopefully be able to meet some local Asperger’s/autism groups, maybe join a choir, maybe take up dancing again? I can go to school as long as I find a job that pays me enough (and I plan to try to stop by Melbourne Uni to determine exactly what they’ll want from me for the med school), and Prosper will keep me company.
As someone who perseverates to the point of panic on incomplete plans, I have a sense of restfulness and lessened anxiety for the first time in months.
Now I just have to convince my bosses that my plane ticket got cancelled so I don’t need to use all of my vacation time in May!
My name is Ali, though sometimes it's Eliot.
I have many tumblrs, which you are welcome to also visit:
Fuck Yeah, Kate Miller-Heidke - the only active Kate fan site, which is baffling.
The Branden Rose - the only active Monster Blood Tattoo fansite, which is less baffling.
I also have a semi-successful etsy shop, which you should visit, below.
A brief history: