relentlessly unpredictable

Not all the features of atypical human operating systems are bugs. By autistic standards, the “normal” brain is easily distractible, is obsessively social, and suffers from a deficit of attention to detail and routine. Thus people on the spectrum experience the neurotypical world as relentlessly unpredictable and chaotic, perpetually turned up too loud, and full of people who have little respect for personal space.
~ Steve Silberman
(NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism & The Future of Neurodiversity)

A major source of anxiety for me is any sudden change of plans. Over the years I’ve learned from observation that other people don’t see these as the catastrophes I experience and have at times concluded that there is something terribly wrong with me. Or then I think something is wrong with others, that they’re rude not to stick to a plan. I’ve spent countless hours giving myself pep talks about learning to be flexible and learning to go with the flow. When a change of plans pops into my day I have a hard time telling if it is a reasonable response to an unanticipated development or if it is just someone else’s whim. It doesn’t matter. Either way, I force myself to accept the change and exhaust myself repressing the panic I feel, trying to be “normal.”

[Lewis] Carroll’s transitions from chapter to chapter are abrupt and unexpected. Alice is rushed from one scene to the next without any opportunity to stop and process what she has just experienced, or to prepare herself mentally for what’s to come. This kind of abrupt time change, without transition, is similar to how a day at school feels to a child with AS. There is no flashback, no foreshadowing: since there is only the immediate moment, shifts in time and place are disconcerting and stressful. Carroll captures this feeling of urgency and panic very well.
~ Julie Brown
(Writers on the Spectrum: How Autism & Asperger’s Syndrome Have Influenced Literary Writing)

“Alice Meets the White Rabbit” by Margaret Winifred Tarrant

I have a very poor sense of time and an “unreasonable” fear of being late. When I know I have an appointment I rush around checking the clock all day, much like the White Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland, and cannot manage to do anything else. It seems like such a waste of time, but I cannot help it. Inevitably I leave the house too early. I watch in wonder and awe as others effortlessly multi-task and juggle appointments and chores in the course of a day. But to me it’s too overwhelming and confusing!

When surprised by the doorbell or the phone ringing I experience an adrenaline rush. I’ve worked hard over the years to not startle or gasp when that happens. Similarly, it is difficult to keep myself together when hearing a horn or a siren while out driving. On the other hand, I love the soothing sounds of foghorns and buoy bells, one of the comforts of living by the sea.

It’s interesting to me that I accept other sorts of change with far more grace, the change of seasons, the stages of life, evolution, or lifestyle changes. Knowing that nothing stays the same or lasts forever makes it easy for me to do things like let go of clutter or keepsakes and accept that children grow up and move away. Perhaps because these changes are more predictable and expected.

the barista

pygmy rabbit by H. Ulmschneider (BLM) & R. Dixon (IDFG)
pygmy rabbit by H. Ulmschneider (BLM) & R. Dixon (IDFG)

This darling little grazing herbivore lives out west, where I have yet to go, and makes her nest inside of a burrow which she digs out for herself. There has been a flurry of activity in our little nest, too. The “new” barista has arrived!

Ever since November when his brother spoiled us by making soy lattes for us every morning, Tim has been on the lookout for an opportunity to purchase a barista secondhand. He finally located a great deal in the city of New York, of all places, and mobilized our daughter, who lives there, into procuring it for him.

Larisa would do anything for her papa and so she made an appointment with the seller and went to pick up the barista and all of its accessories. As she puts it, the buses were not working in her favor that day and she wound up carrying the heavy appliance for ten blocks. When she arrived at the lobby of her six-story walk-up, completely worn out, she called boyfriend Dima to come downstairs and carry it up the stairs for her!

Then it was up to us to plan another expedition to the big city to pick up the barista. This past Saturday turned out to be the best time for all concerned so we rented another car and returned to New York for the second time in the space of a month. But it was a great excuse for another visit and we enjoyed a pleasant afternoon playing a new (to us) card game, Dominion. Dima & Larisa patiently taught us all the rules and by the time we caught on it was time to leave.

The past couple of days our nest has been thrown into a state of disarray as we debated the most logical place to keep this new prized possession. Other small appliances have been moved here and there to make the best use of available outlets and faucets. A shelf unit has come up from the basement to accommodate the slow cooker collection, and a small table that is now too big for the remaining space has been moved out. And of course I couldn’t rest until I redecorated around all these changes…

Perhaps it would be easier to be a bunny and live on a simple diet of sagebrush. But I have to admit, these soy lattes are tasting very good!