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The Brain, within its Groove
Runs evenly–and true–
But let a Splinter swerve–
‘Twere easier for You–

To put a Current back–
When Floods have slit the Hills–
And scooped a Turnpike for Themselves–
And trodden out the Mills–
                                 Emily Dickinson

Regular readers of this blog (all three and a half of you!) will have noticed, but been too kind to say, that I have a tendency to obsess to the point of losing site of everything else. It’s as if I become possessed by a demonic pilot. Try as I may to steer myself back to the rest of my life, I cannot seize control of the navigation panel.

At the moment I am possessed by the notion I may be autistic. For as long as I can remember people have quite happily told me I’m weird, or eccentric or, if they’re kinder perhaps, ‘arty’. And this has always baffled me. But a series of chance encounters coupled with a brief conversation with my sister Angela, who is a school counsellor, led me to research autism. 

I’ve now taken every test I could find; joined a zillion online fora (forums?); read half a dozen books and dog knows how many blogs, websites and academic papers (where I could access them for free).  As a result, I’ve ignored everything else (except paid work), including the project I’d previously been obsessed with: my kitchen – see ➡️

That enormous tube is a roll of vinyl I ordered to finally do away with the grotesque forced marriage of greige carpet (not unpleasant in itself) and reddish brown tiles (very unpleasant both in themselves and in combination with everything!). The question ‘who fits a carpet in a kitchen?!’ has pretty much been torturing me for the last ten years. Every time I walk into that room I am hit by that fucking carpet. I hate it. It makes cooking a very uncomfortable occupation, and baking almost painful. Who wants to spend time vacuuming tiny, potentially fetid particlest? I don’t bake to give myself a reason to clean. I hate cleaning (as you can probably tell from the photo). But, I love a clean, uncluttered space, so I do try and do it. But I need a clear path and, right now, I can’t find one.

At the moment I’m so focussed on how my brain may be wired and what I could do about it, I don’t have the capacity to also imagine myself clearing everything out of that room. And I need to be able to imagine a thing before I can do it. I have thoroughly imagined the way the room will look once it’s done. I’ve scrolled through several possibilities and settled on the one I hope will solve all my getting food on the table problems. But, ‘OMG, yeah, I do collect things!’ And, ‘that explains what happened on our last evening in Köln!’ And, ‘yep, I can be very boring for people who don’t want to go into the minutia of why I chose this particular shirt.’ And, and, and… I’m only able to write this post because it’s about it

But now I’m aware how boring I can be I don’t want to bore you and, anyway, I’ve run out of things to say about it. So here’s a photo of my two favourite people at my favourite beach, taken when my son came to visit in April. It was his first visit since 2018, and he stayed for three whole weeks (joy of joys!). I’ve been meaning to post about it ever since, but there was the problem with the fridge, and the looming (now past) trip to Germany with my family for my brother’s big birthday… so I never found the necessary clarity. Not that there was that much to write about, it was just like he was home again. Even though this house has never been his home, he fit right in. He had to work while he was here, so I gave him my room and I took up residence in the kitchen (before we turned it into the squalid pit you see above). It was lovely and calming, I felt like myself again. And it strikes me that he is probably the only person who knows me without my ‘look, I’m just like everyone else!’ mask.

It is not unusual for me to spend days polishing a blog post. I read and reread, rewrite whole paragraphs and move sentences around compulsively. Then come the smaller things, like typos and grammatical errors, for which I search like a pig on a truffle hunt. On first reading most of the stuff I write doesn’t make much sense. It jumps about, is full of what look like non sequiturs, and tends to end abruptly. So I add introductions and conclusions, like this. But today, just to show you how messy it is inside my head (as it’s my current obsession and all…) I’m going to leave it as it is, and publish with all the horrors.

Apologies to all pedants 💚

Oh, the header image is of a pencil drawing (huge) by Elizabeth Ogilvie and can be seen at Gracefield Art Centre in Dumfries until 20 August. 

 The end. But possibly the beginning.

This Post Has 12 Comments

  1. Scarlet

    You are who you are, and you are fabulous no matter what label you tag yourself with!
    Do you want to change? For the kitchen you’re just gonna have to make a list and stick to it – I have to make a very basic list every day – and then another list for one off things. I often ignore my lists, but I tick and cross each day, too, and the crosses often guilt me into action!
    I don’t like cleaning, but, like you, I love my home more when it is clean – so stuff gets done.
    You do dive into different interests, and I’ve noticed your passion – do you want to concentrate on just one, or two things forever? Or do you prefer being a butterfly? I am a little bit butterfly too – and wish I could always complete projects – but I do complete some projects, and so do you. We get distracted easily by an itch that we have to scratch. You’ve done some terrific things, and so have I….. though it would be nice to get our houses in order!!

    1. Eryl

      I do love you, Scarlet!
      Do I want to change? I’m not sure, but I will ponder.
      Yes, lists, I’m very good at making them, not so good at sticking to them. I suspect what will happen is pressure will build until I can stand it no longer and I’ll wake up one morning and just do it!

  2. Bill Lisleman

    Do I offer a comment? Are my words of any importance? I’m not a writer. Why do I possibly think I could offer advice? I better check my grammar.
    Oh the hell with it. Blogs are there for comments, I enjoy nice comments. She’ll appreciate it.
    Yeah I overthink too many things. I blame it on my engineering training. That’s probably an excuse I tell myself.
    autism – As you probably know now, there is broad spectrum of this condition. Our youngest daughter works as an occupational therapist at a school for autistic students. I went there once to talk to a small group of students about the engineering topic of electricity and magnetism. I mentioned the groundbreaking discoveries of the British scientist Michael Faraday. One of the students focused in on “British” and talked with a British accent for rest of the session. It was enjoyable. I had communicated at least in a small way to him.
    I believe we all have a bit of autism and a variety of other conditions in us. Diversity is a good thing.
    Finally, I must say you, someone, maybe multiple people need to move that roll of vinyl. It might bend and get warped. It might break the chair.

    1. Eryl

      Offering advice can be awkward and I get the impression that a lot of people don’t like receiving it. I’m definitely not one of those people, I need all the advice I can get, preferably from those people who wonder if they’re equipped to give it. They are always the ones who consider what they say, too many people don’t seem to do that!
      I don’t know much about engineering, but I’m guessing to be good at it you have to be able to both see the whole and the tiniest details all at the same time. A skill/talent I’d love more of. I have to mentally zoom out when I’m working on something to make sure the tiny detail I’m focusing on actually fits in with every other detail.

      Yeah, I will have to do something about that vinyl or I’ll have wasted two hundred quid! Maybe today is the day?

      Hello, by the way, nice to see a new face around here.

    2. Eryl

      I have been trying for days, on and off, to leave a comment on your blog, but Disqus doesn’t seem to like me at all. I wasn’t trying to say anything profound, but I wanted to let you know I have tried.

  3. 63mago

    Ah, the horror of an unpolished post !
    I have no idea about autism, sorry.
    As for “things to be done” – I write lists, and even follow them, so things get done. Another thing is the “when”. The right time is when I feel it is the right time now, it usually works well.
    As for (my) texts – I learned that any, even the smallest and seemingly unimportant correction, is worth to be made, simply because it enhances a text. I am pedantic in this respect. Over time I developed a goof practice, and depending on my level of exhaustion, drunkness, and/or being fed up, I find the point of completion steadily – at least i want o believe this !

    1. 63mago

      “goof” is nice ! But “good” was meant.

    2. Eryl

      Your posts are always clear and well written, and you write them in English which. I assume isn’t your first language. I am also pedantic, but I’m trying to loosen up a bit. I never send anything out for publication because I fear imperfection and I get to a stage where I can’t stand to read a thing one more time.
      As for lists, I now have a todo list app that reminds me to do stuff, so I do it, mostly. But the kitchen, I can’t even bring myself to make the damn list! X

      1. 63mago

        When you have to publish – there is a stage of “wtf, Ican’tseethatcrapanymore” – that’s the exactly right time to sent it out. At this stage you surely have done what had to be done, one can over-correct a text. And it is a law of nature that later, when you have sent it out, and you read it again – then you will find the last typo. It has been so since the days of Gutenberg, it will stay so. I usually have someone who reads my text before I send it away, and vice versa.

        1. Eryl

          I’ve now learnt not to read any of my published work thanks to the horror of the missed typo. But even worse, the last anthology I sent poems to actually removed a whole line from one of my poems so it would fit on the page alongside a totally unrelated illustration!

  4. Kass

    We can all be classified on some spectrum. Hence, the word spectrum. I LIKE to put myself on the autism spectrum. I like an excuse for retreating from social interactions. I’ve taken a lot of online questionnaires and identify with the inability to abide tags at the back of my neck, I have a morning routine, I’m obsessional (I have a pin that says, “I will not obsess, I will not obsess, I will not obsess”), …I’d go on, but that would be obsessive.

    1. Eryl

      An excuse to retreat from social interactions, that could be all I’m looking for…😊
      I’ve now taken all the online tests I could find and some of them I’ve taken several times just to make sure. I identify with almost everything mentioned except being good at math and mutism, though I will be totally silent in company until someone or something actively invites me to speak, and even then I’ll only say something if I’m absolutely confident it’s right. Unless alcohol’s involved, in which case all bets are off.

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