This post is inspired by a number of recent web developments. One is the launch of pip.io, which I am fairly sure happened a little while ago while I was not looking because that is when everything happens, mostly. But while thinking about this social networking conundrum–you know, the central question: what to do about the fact that facebook is making itself uninhabitable and yet everyone in the whole fucking world is on it and it is unlikely that any one of us will get the whole fucking world to move as a group to a single alternative social networking site and so we jump on things like pip.io and diaspora because we want to make sure we are there when the rest of the world arrives–I happened also to read a fairly lighthearted take on executive functioning at Square 8 and it occurred to me that there may be some sort of connection between my ambivalent attitude towards social networking and the difficulty I have keeping up with even the most leisurely schedule I can possibly come up with for myself even though there are many, many things that I want to do before I die and although I am not facing death in any urgent way that I am aware of, I still think to myself every now and again that another thirty productive years would be a blessing and another forty something like a small miracle given my always already tired constitution.
When I am 88 I expect I will still be reading and probably even writing, but I may not have the energy for five-mile walks every day. You know? Certainly some 88-year-olds are in lively physical shape, but I suspect that I will be one tired old man when the time comes to be an old man.
Anyone who knows me well knows that I suspect I have some form of autism although I am so old already that “autism” was an exotic disorder caused by “refrigerator mothers” when I was little and children were not screened for it anything like routinely or even when several telltale behaviors clustered themselves in any single baby’s repertoire unless they interfered extensively with communication and social development. To my family I was simply the most introverted person they had ever experienced and I also was “funny” as my mom put it ever so euphemistically. I was weird. I was weird and quiet and easily upset and not very articulate except, eventually, in writing.
But so since I’ve started thinking seriously about the possibility that I am not just some weird-ass anomaly that cannot be explained but actually a member of a group of people who experience a whole spectrum of anomalous neurological phenomena and who have been named by the powers that be–for whatever that is worth, and I could write a book on that question alone–I have begun to read other autistic people’s writing and trying to figure out where my experience matches up and where it doesn’t with what they say about their experience.
At the same time my social life has exploded due solely to the internet. I spend most of my life in my room or out taking walks along the streets of San Francisco–say wasn’t that a cop show?–but I have friends around the world, some of whom I have met but many whom I have not. In fact some of my favorite people, people I would consider chosen family, I have never seen face to face. Of course, in this I am not at all unusual. I have a facebook profile, a livejournal, and this, my own blog.
I do not know what to do with my blog, though. I do not like controversy and in fact I have a raging case of Complex PTSD which is easily stimulated by argumentation on any topic at all. So I decided awhile back that I was probably not going to have the emotional energy to write, say, a political blog, although I do have political opinions and they are a bit unorthodox and could probably make and interesting narrative. But I don’t want to argue with anybody.
Similarly, I have signed up for a number of social networking sites that I might have visited frequently for a little while and then forgotten; I think there are probably several more that I have visited exactly once. What site is it: 43 things? Yeah 43 things.com, where sociability is arranged around encouraging each other towards concrete goals–I visited this site a few times over the course of a few days a long time ago. I keep getting email, in fact, from my past self, who apparently thought I would be thinking about the fourth book already. I am still trying to get the first one just right so that it can go to the printer.
There are others, like blip.fm, where you can go and play dj while listening to tunes that others are themselves dj’ing and I found it intensely fascinating for about a month and then one day I had something else to do besides look for songs I wanted to play when I logged on to the internet and I don’t think I have ever been back. I would like to go back. It is a good place to learn about new music, and it is a good place to promote music that you like–even your own, if you have it.
Which I do, but the tangents are really starting to add up here, so I will just say that I stopped remixing that song after the fourth mix and although I know exactly what I need to do to fix it, I do not know when I will get to it.
I have time. I have all the time in the world now, even: I am on disability thanks to the severity of my large collection of psychiatric, um, maladjustments. Every now and again my head percolates with ideas. And then I dither and I dither and I fret and I worry that I will choose to do the wrong thing at the wrong time and I can do this for hours, doing nothing but trying to decide what to do, until it gets so late in my day that all I really can do is read myself to sleep and try again tomorrow.
This applies to everything: from my social life on the internet to the execrable job I do managing money and the equally heinous job I do of keeping my living quarters clean.
I was in the Apple Store yesterday. I was looking at their “productivity” software. It was not expensive and I thought well maybe this one would help me out but there are two things I know all too well about myself to let myself spend the money without at least downloading them and trying them out first to see if they make me panic or not: one is that I panic when my to-do list contains more than four items. This is unfortunate because I am also very good at making lists of nearly infinitesimal granularity. I can divide any activity up into its constituent parts and those constituent parts into their constituent parts and so forth and so on until once again it gets so late that all I can really do is read myself to sleep and try again tomorrow.
I bet I could make putting on pants a hundred-step process. Ah! An idea for a blog post. See I need a jar of blog post ideas but I would panic when I saw all of them and worry about writing the wrong one at the wrong time.
There is probably something deeply psychologically significant in this fear of doing the wrong thing at the wrong time. It manifests occasionally as a leaden feeling of guilt accompanied by the ashamed certainty that I should not be doing what I am doing now but should be doing something else: something else more morally defensible or more virtuous somehow. Certainly not, say, writing in my blog, or reading about some topic when there are all these other topics to read about or playing my guitar when I should be thinking about what I want the next book to be since I see now that it takes forever to publish one once one gets an opportunity to do so.
I may download one of those productivity tools. I will probably make an intricately detailed list which will scare the living shit out of me and I’ll never open the application again. At least I won’t have paid for it upfront.
But I do keep thinking that somewhere is the killer app for my life. Just like I keep looking for the killer social networking app that will make it practical to leave facebook completely and will give me an intuitive interface for keeping up with tweets, status updates from various sources and all my rss feeds, I keep thinking that certainly there must be an imaginable system that would put my life in order, tell me what to do when without making me feel ashamed that I am neglecting something else, reassure me that whatever I am doing is not completely futile in the grand scheme of things while also telling me what to write for the next book and making sure I never have to make another phone call.
So. I don’t know. Instead of researching “executive functioning” I wrote this post. As you can see, it has no real point, but that is its point and that is probably the point that I should take home with me except that I am already home and have nowhere to go. Or that is I am in my room and there is no reason to venture out. I could probably make something out of all this but I think that for now I will just leave it.
Maybe someone has a better idea. Maybe it’s downloadable. There is one thing that gives me unadulterated pleasure, and that is looking for things. One of my favorite things to do which is a complete waste of time except that it makes me happy is to go to a store that sells lots of small things. It doesn’t matter what they are: nails, toys, animal teeth, silver jewelry, pocket knives, pens, glass beads, rocks, notebooks, light bulbs, puzzles, watches, colored pencils–if they’re small and there are lots of different kinds of them, I can and will spend hours sifting through them, looking. It doesn’t even matter whether I find anything I want to take home with me. The whole joy is in the poring over.
Perhaps I should make a list of depots of small items.