Atheism, Autism, books, Catholicism, Literature

Autism Diary #2

(c) Hertfordshire County Council; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

More on my autism. Yippie for everyone. Haha.

An aspect of autism, specifically the low spectrum variety that I have called Asperger’s, that surely gets a lot of attention but is very rarely commented on in depth is obsessiveness. That can take the form of interest in a particular color, a particular object like plastic furniture or civil war currency, or with activities or arts as is the case with me. Of course it is possible to have more than one obsession, as is the case with me. In a sense I have one overarching obsession and a few minor obsession.

The main obsession is with writing and reading, really anything having to do with literature and books. I write for a living (or rather I write and attempt to make a living from it haha) and I collect books. I have collected books for years now, pretty much since I knew what a book was. I was reading by the time I was 5 or 6, and writing at least since I was 8. My mom found a old transcript of mine from the mid 90’s telling the story of a misunderstood vampire who wanted to be more human. If only I had called it “Twilight” I would not have to be looking for writing opportunities today.

Today I have 360 books in my personal library, in my library room that takes up almost all of our second bedroom in our apartment. That number is misleading though, as I constantly sell and trade my books with friends, family, and used book stores. All told I have probably owned more than 1000 books in my life. I focus on philosophy, history, and classic and obscure literature. I am always bragging about the fact that I have a better philosophy collection than my well stocked local library.

I not only like reading the books, I like touching them, holding them, weighing them, comparing them, contrasting them, sorting them by color or type or size or date of publication. Right now they are sorted by the old standby alphabetic by author but that could change tomorrow. That is really where my autism comes in. I have a attraction to books and the way they look and feel that it really rises above just a hobby. I think about books in my sleep and I will buy any book no matter what the topic if the look and feel a certain way or if they have a particular painting or illustration I like on the cover. This is a double edged sword of course because the best books do not always have the most interesting covers and vice versa. But that is what wonderful trade-in used bookstores like Frugal Muse in Darien, Illinois. That is one of my favorite places on the planet and most of the books I now own either came from there or were purchased from funds obtained from selling books there.

When it comes to the other aspect of my literary obsession, writing, I am perhaps even more obsessive. I have at any given time half a dozen active projects going on. At the moment this includes finishing the last few chapters of my 500 page novel, working on part two of a two part epic Greek style tragic play, a short novella, various short stories, poems, essays and of course this blog. I write about two to three thousand words a day. My personal record was 23,000 words in about 16 hours. This was non-stop. My wife all but resorted to shooting me with a tranquilizer dart to get me to stop. I stay up til at the latest 4am almost every night editing and writing. I used to think this sort of devotion to writing and research was a common thing for people my age. My parents and my friends have disabused me of this notion.

When it comes to my more esoteric and less time consuming obsessions I seem to be somewhat obsessed with lists, especially lists of American presidents (I can name them all in order), English Kings (can name them all in order from William I on) and number one of all my historical obsessions, Popes. Yes, Popes. The head of the Catholic Church. Yep. I am obsessed with the men who have worn the papal tiara. I know much more than is normally expected of a non-catholic, indeed a non-believer. I can tell you all about the debauched reign of the Borgia Pope Alexander VI, the papacy of Adrian IV, Nicholas Brakespear, the only English Pope, and of course my personal favorite Celestine V, the Pope who was literally dragged from his mountain cave hideaway life as a hermit to take the holy office. Oh and just to give you a sense of how obsessed I am…I didn’t have to look up ANY of that Pope trivia I just used. Yep, I am obsessed with Popes.

So there you go. Yet another view into my deranged mind. Stay tuned for more.

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17 thoughts on “Autism Diary #2

  1. What do you think of the Kindle? We have a fantastic (in our opinion) collection of books and vinyl records which we wouldn’t give up for all the digital media in the world. There is something about the feel, look and braggadocio of a well-groomed content collection that portability/accessibility simply doesn’t make up for.

  2. You know, in a slightly less involved but still similar way, there is quite of few adults that still do this as well. While your interests differ than mine or my husbands we are both avid collectors of what interest us (primarily music and film related). We have whole rooms in our house devoted solely to our specific interests. I am pretty sure my husband spends at least 4-5 playing and creating music. We all really aren’t so different in that area.

    • nme16 says:

      Not at all different! What I see as the main issue with low spectrum autism like I have is the amount of anxiety and time that goes into thinking about my obsessions…last night for example I could not get to sleep until 3am because I was thinking about the political ramifications of a modern day Cardinal declaring himself an Anti-Pope!

      • Ok, I have yet to stay up until early in the morning thinking about Bob Marley but I do spend an atrocious amount of memorabilia. Though I have seen my husband get out of bed and go downstairs to play a piece on the piano that he “dreamed up”. 🙂

      • nme16 says:

        he sounds like an artistic type! I’m a writer for a living so I do that often. Drives my wife crazy lol The one thing that drives people the MOST insane about my aspie obsessions though is that it is almost impossible for me to get interested in things outside of my obsession

      • Well then, I have to know…how is the obsession “born”? You weren’t always interested in popes. Something had to spark your initial interest. And the only true “difference” that I can see in that (as a non-aspie, so of course, absolutely no disrespect intended) is that as non-aspies we just can pretend better perhaps. Because I know as disinterested as I am in 99% of the things that people want to talk to me about I just fake it, smile, and nod a lot.

      • nme16 says:

        well…I mean it is sort of impossible to describe. Kind like asking a deaf person to describe what it is like not to hear…I wish I could answer in a clearer way. My obsession with popes started from my obsession with the middle ages when I was a young child. The obsessions are not the crux of my autism. For me that is mostly the emotional blindness and inability to relate to most people face to face or handle social situations. And the anxiety and obsessive thoughts that come from that.

  3. Hmmmm, it really is fascinating. As you can tell, one of my interests is people and the human mind. Also, my son is in the process of being diagnosed for high functioning autism so I am sorry for peppering you with all sorts of questions, I probably seem as though I am downplaying your reasonings, but I truly don’t intend it that way. I am just excited at the prospect of being ablt to converse with an ADULT with HFA. 🙂 To see how their life is, what their thought processes are. I apologize if I seem like a random crazy….

    • nme16 says:

      No no. Not at all. We autistic people get our defenses up really easily because of a life of people who doubt/misunderstand/discriminate against you. I am really glad that you are getting your son diagnosed! It is so essential to get them diagnosed early so they can start the real hard work of adapting to a world that is not made for them and their unique minds. Unfortunately I was not diagnosed until I was an adult and it really did some damage when it comes to depression and anxiety. That being said there are some wonderful things about being high functioning autistic, like having the unique interests, being especially kind and not quick to judge, and the ability to soak up information like a sponge! If you have any more questions please feel free to ask. I am no expert but I can try to tell you my experience at least

  4. I like your blog a lot. I’ve got Asperger’s too. I’ve never known anyone else who had it, and it’s kind of comforting to know you have an obsession with writing and reading, too… and collecting books. I often stand admiring my bookshelf and counting how many I have. (70.) Do you smell books? I do. I could probably start a religion about smelling books. It sounds weird, but it’s interesting because they all smell different. (Yes, I’m insane.)
    Anyway, it’s great that you write about it and seem comfortable with it, not like autism is a bad thing. I find myself a little unwilling to tell people I’ve got Asperger’s, just because they might treat me weirdly. If only people understood that Asperger’s probably means you’re smart and awesome.

    • nme16 says:

      I agree totally. I like having asperger’s actually, even if it does make it hard to be around other people sometimes. I LOVE the smell of books, it is something that a lot of other people, including two of my sisters lol, do not understand at ALL. I have known a few other people with asperger’s, including my mom, and that has helped a bit with my own problems. It also helps to be able to talk with someone about it, even if it is just one close person. People can be more understanding than you expect, especially if you are totally honest with them. What do you like writing about? Do you have a genre that you specialize in? Asperger’s does indeed make you smart and awesome!

    • nme16 says:

      By the way I looked at some of your blog posts. I really really really like your blog. It is amazingly creative and interesting. You have a really captivating writing style.

  5. My God, I am ridiculously pleased that you understand the smell of books! I’ve wasted endless hours trying to make my parents understand. Anyways, I do a lot of writing, far too much for any healthy person probably, and usually it’s fantasy. I just finished a story in an old-fashioned vein not too long ago, I’m trying to get it published right now. No luck so far, though.
    Sometimes I like that I have Asperger’s, you know, that feeling of being a bit different than other people, and not for the worse; my friends know about it and it’s cool because they don’t care at all. But still, people seem to have this negative view of it, for whatever reason. Having it does make it hard for me to do normal stuff, (for instance, going to school, I haven’t been there in a year), and being around friends and family. I’d much rather curl up in a corner and write for the next twenty years.
    Anyway, all that aside. Your blog really is great, makes me feel proud that I’m a strange book-smelling Asperger’s kid and that it’s probably a good thing to be.

    • nme16 says:

      It really is a good thing to be that, and as you get older and more out in the world you will meet more people who appreciate that about you. There are days when I literally write all day long. I think my record was 13 hours straight! haha. I actually finally have a library room so that is where I do a lot of research and writing now. As to publishing, be patient. I have had a few poems published and I self published a book but the main thing to getting into the professional writing world is patience. Patience and submitting your work to EVERYWHERE, like I mean everywhere. Just keep sending it out. It took James Joyce 10 years for a publisher to even LOOK at Ulysses but it paid off.

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