Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Hugs and stuff

I wonder if I can make more regular posts here, and reduce by about 99% my posting frequency on that great time sucking, click baiting and profit making abomination, Facebook?  May Zuckerberg be cursed for his evil invention!  

But this is not just a rant against the evil empire of Facebook.

Nope, it's actually a continuation of my thoughts about rituals and routines and coping with life.  I'm sorry if this is boring, well not actually, I don't care if anyone thinks it's boring, it's my life we're talking about here.

Sure it's boring!  
But it's MINE!

Until I began writing about being Aspie and the routines that I follow I hadn't realized how ritualized my whole life really is.  When I get up I must take a shower first thing.  If I do not do that the entire day is "wrong" and I never get back on track until the next day when I can start over and do it right.  If I try taking a shower later in the morning or in the evening, it doesn't work at all, I'm still out of sorts all day long.  So that is the first step in my morning ritual, get up and go to the bathroom and take a shower.  That is ritualized as well, of course.  I set everything up carefully, soap and shampoo in the same spot, a towel on the floor, one over the edge of the enclosure, wash my hair first, then soap up and rinse off.  I "soak" for about 1 or 2 minutes under the water and then I'm out.  The whole thing from entering the shower to exiting takes far less than ten minutes.

After my shower I must make my bed, if I don't then the next steps cannot work properly for me, the whole day is out of sync if I don't make my bed.  I used to just have blankets on the floor but these days I have a folding foam pad that I lay out and cover with a couple of blankets.  In in the morning I fold up the pad, place both of my blankets folded, in the same order every time, on top of the pad, then my two pillows on top of that, with a seldom used but still essential "reading pillow" in front of the whole thing.  On top of that are my stuffed animals, who vary in number depending on how many Max has stolen, or that I have stolen back :-)

Today there are a couple of extra here because I had some soft ones in for Tiernan when I was playing with him the other day.  No matter how many are in house they must be arranged on the bed before anything else can take place, if they are not I feel uncomfortable all day long, really!  It's crazy but true.

The next step in my morning ritual is to get dressed in whatever I'm going to be wearing for the morning.  Nothing else can work right unless I get dressed at this point.  If it was cold and I slept with sweat pants and sweat shirt, my version of PJ's, then I cannot fully enter my day until I've changed into pants and T-shirt.  It I try to skip this, because in my head I tell myself that this is being dressed, my day feels wrong and out of sync.  Yes, I do try to argue with myself over my rituals, but if I don't follow them then things just feel wrong.

At this point my ritual moves on to praying the Morning Office.  I've been doing this for over twenty years with a couple of interludes taken while I was "being an atheist" :-)  Actually, for a couple of the atheist periods in the last twenty years I went right on with the Morning Office because I like the ritual.  I went to Grace Cathedral in San Francisco for years while not believing a bit of it just because I loved the ritual there.

From time to time I've varied the details of the morning office.  I've used several variations, but almost every day for twenty years I have prayed some form of liturgical morning prayer.  The first form I used was from the 1979 Book of Common Prayer.  Later I used the forms included in the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod's "Treasury of Daily Prayer" which is very similar to that found in the Book of Common Prayer, since both are based on the Catholic Morning Office that I followed during the several times I've tried to be Roman Catholic.

I'll go over the details of praying the Office another time, but this has brought me to the end of my morning rituals.  :-)  One thing I have noticed in thinking about this is that even when I deliberately strive to change things up, to be spontaneous, it's always within specific constraints.  Change has to be done slowly and carefully and I have to really work hard to shift things at all.  Even walking from BART to work is done in only two different ways, any other route, even if it's the same distance, feels wrong to me.

Recently I've tried staying in San Francisco during work weeks with a good friend who is kind enough to allow me to use her spare bedroom.  This always leaves me feeling discombobulated, out of sorts and confused.  I tried to figure out what was "wrong" with being there, maybe it was the neighborhood, it is in the Castro District after all, with it's giant rainbow flag and very strange denizens...

Or maybe it was that I didn't like being away from my family and seeing them every day...

And you know what?  Both of those are factors but I'm pretty sure that the problem is that I've had a ritual of getting a hug from Lora and Serenity, and now Max and Tiernan as well, for nearly a decade, and it's a vital part of my day.  I can't really bring myself to do without that daily ritual, it makes my day feel complete and missing it leaves a huge gaping hole in the day.  So, probably I'm not going to be staying away during my work weeks, even though it makes all sorts of sense in other ways, more sleep and saving time on commutes, but it's not worth it!  A hug is a ritual, but it's probably the most important one I've got and "I can't want to" change it as Max would say :-)

My final thought is this, I seem to have more rituals these days than ever before, am I getting more Autistic by thinking about it?  Or is it just that I notice all of these little rituals now?  To be honest I LIKE it when I do the same thing every day!  I would be just fine eating almost the same things every day, wearing the same clothes etc.  It is easier on the brain, fewer choices to make, fewer chances to screw things up... rituals rock.

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