Saturday, 30 March 2013

The Big Bang Theory

I never watch TV. I get impatient during movies and I prefer to consume news in writing, from paper or web. But I enjoy sitcoms - and I enjoy them more if the characters somehow resemble me. My favourite show is the Big Bang Theory. Because the characters are scientists. And nerds. I like that and I like them. I like the ordinary girl of the show, too, though I don't really recognise myself in her. In fact, Penny is one of the two top stars of that show, but that is not my point.

My first point relates to the other top star of the show. The famous, brilliant and very annoying Dr. Sheldon Cooper. Here and there on the internet people have diagnosed Sheldon with Aspergers. Somebody (I forgot who) suggests that he has other diagnoses as well, or traits at least. Inter alia, his narcissism is far beyond what you'd normally see in an Aspie. More than one person with Asperger have been compared to Sheldon.

I like Sheldon a lot. He is much more quirky than I am, he has really perfected his Aspie-traits, and he lives it. Like he is proud, only that he isn't, he just lives Aspieness. So I can recognise myself, and laugh at myself simultaneously. He is both what I always wanted to be (true to myself), and what I am sad about in myself (always different no matter how hard I tried to be like everyone else). And he is very bright within his field, and clueless outside his field. This I can relate to as well. So when I laugh at Sheldon, I laugh at myself. Still, he is different from me in various ways. Gender-wise of course but also the fact that he never tries to be like everyone else, at least not sincerely.

Which leads me to my second point: Amy Farrah Fowler. She is probably Aspie, too, but as a woman it has been more important for her to fit in (whether the need to be part of a group is related to biological gender or cultural gender is not clear to me, but I observe this need in women and girls much more than in men and boys). So she tries to fit in. And fails. She tries to do the girl things. And fails. She talks wrong. She walks wrong. She dresses wrong. Her posture is wrong. She is either clingy or very distant. She doesn't see herself from the outside. Not in a realistic manner at least. I hate Amy. I hate being reminded of the pain of not fitting in, the pain of being embarrassing, the pain of being too much. While Sheldon lives quirkiness, Amy lives 'I-only-realise-I-am-too-much-afterwards'.

I really want to believe that I was the only one that discovered my being embarrassing at all those incidents throughout my life. But when I see Amy, I know that other people discovered it, too. When I talked too loud. When I over-shared. When I said the wrong thing or said it in a wrong context. When I was too blunt, too honest, too affectionate, too much...

And Amy reminds me of me. In the most brutal, non-empathic and painful way.

Thursday, 14 March 2013


There are vices and virtues of being on a business trip. On the down side is the travelling and sleeping in hotel beds. The past two days I have become aware of some of the virtues. I am currently in another country, for a meeting, followed by a conference. It is part of the job to attend conferences - about once a year. Recently I have turned the vicious part of conference attendance into a virtue. The breaks. The meals. The conference dinner.

During this trip I was paging through a free magazine on the train. There was an article on new trends. It said that the old trend of fear of missing out (F.O.M.O.) has been overtaken by a new one: JOY of missing out: J.O.M.O. - and that is what it is! My newfound pleasure... At the conference, when the session ends, I head for the coffee, and - while staring at my phone or a piece of paper in order to avoid contact - I find a place where I can sit alone. I skipped the conference dinner, said I had to work, walked to town, bought a sandwich, and thoroughly ENJOY sitting in my hotel room, missing out on all the chit-chat. I am being unfair, conference dinners can involve interesting scientific discussions. But I can't concentrate when more than one person is talking at the same time. So to me it might as well be chit-chat.

I know that missing out on purpose is not compliant to social code. Therefore I had no answer when some of the people I had a meeting with yesterday exclaimed: 'I'll walk with you!' when I said I'd rather walk than drive to my hotel. So I walked with them. I wonder if NT people are as anxious about what to talk about when they foresee that they have to spend time with other people?

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Liebster award

One of my favourite aspie-related blogs, mados, has tagged me for the Liebster award. I am honoured and it only gave me a little performance anxiety. I have been thinking a lot about how to respond. As always, playing by the rules is the obvious option. Luckily for someone like me, the rules in this context are explicit. They are as follows:
1. Give 11 random facts about me.
2. Answer the 11 questions that the tagger gave me
3. Make 11 new questions for the people I tag to answer.
4. Tag 11 blogs that are new or have less than 200 followers**.
Allright, let's jump into it...

1: 11 random facts about me
1. I don't do random, everything is planned and structured ;)
2. My nail on the right thumb is much bigger than the nail on the left
3. I am lactose intolerant
4. The best thing I know is analysing large datasets
5. The second best thing I know is cooking
6. I don't like surprises
7. I love coffee
8. I hate shopping
9. But I love interior decorating shops and magazines
10. Not that that - at all - is reflected in my home
11. I find spiders and bugs very interesting but I am scared of flying things, birds and bats in particular.

2: Questions for me:

  1. If you were to do a research project (no limitations, all resources provided), what would be its title and subject areaI do research for a living, so there are two answers to this question. One in my field of expertise and one in another area. In my own field I would like to work with data from some of the large American cohorts - and explore labour market consequences of common risk factors for disease, such as obesity and stress. Outside my own field: something very scientific, like neurology or insect studies. Or paleontology. I'd love to find out how the brain works and how everything originated...
  2. Do you have a formal degree/education – and what is it?I have a masters degree in economics and a Ph.D. in health economics
  3. What is the worst job you ever had, and why?I guess the one where my manager was a psychopath and made people cry, tops the list. Colleagues were nice though and I really liked the tasks. A runner-up was the part-time job I had in high school. I had to draw posters for a pizza-bakery. I got free food and colddrink. But I sat in a basement and inhaled the fumes from the permanent markers I had to use and I got a splitting headache. Every time.
  4. If you had the chance to travel to another planet and return, which planet would you go to (not considering risk and travel time)?Being afraid of heights I am not really tempted to go into space. I fly often but I really don't like it. :)
  5. If you and everybody you knew were to leave Earth on a generational spaceship and never return, which 3 words would best summarise your feelings about life on Earth?PleasantStressfulInefficient 
  6. Who is your favourite author?I love books, and I love several authors, for different reasons. For many years my answer would have been Salman Rushdie. Then for a long period I would have said John Irving. I may even still say that. But the best book I've read is by Siri Hustvedt.
  7. Have you ever thought of starting, or actually started, your own business – or undertaken freelance work?No, not really. I like having a manager and the structure of a workplace. 
  8. What is your preferred balance between solitude and socialising (including with close family, but pets don’t count) – as a general ‘rule of thumb’, in percent?To be perfectly honest: 70-30. While it often is the opposite in reality, that would be my preference. As much as I love my family and friends, I need time alone to re-energize.
  9. How do you prefer to socialise most of the time – Online or Offline?Online. I find real life socialising very stressful. I prefer written communication and also I can zone out when I want and leave the party without offending anybody.
  10. Has blogging helped you to develop as a person or change your life in a positive direction?Indeed. My Danish blog has been an invaluable tool in the long-term conflict with and quasi-estrangement from my mother. My aspie blog (this one) helps me to put words on my different-ness that I've always felt but never formulated.
  11. Which advice would you like to give new bloggers?Think carefully whether you want to be anonymous or not. If you are thoroughly anonymous, you can write about friends, family and colleagues - and they will never find out. In that case, don't tell people about your blog. I chose the middle way, I don't use my real name and my own photograph but I wasn't that difficult to identify (my Danish blog). I've bragged about this blog on facebook so it is not that anonymous, really. Sometimes I wish it was different. 

3: 11 questions for the tagged
1. What is your favourite time of day?
2. What is your favourite meal?
3. Do you have a special interest and if you do, how do you pursue it?
4. Are you doing any sports?
5. How do you view blogging (1): as a road to fame/new friends or a vent for thoughts you can't let out anywhere else?
6. How do you view blogging (2): relaxing or stressing?
7. Does your blog have a twitter account or a facebook page?
8. Who and what inspires you? People/books/TV-shows...
9. Do the people around you (colleagues, relatives, neighbours) know that you are blogging? Or are you, in the words of the Bug Girl, Batmanning?
10. If money wasn't an issue, where would you like to spend your vacation?
11. If you could bring a famous person on that vacation (dead or alive), who would it be?

4: Tag 11 new blogs
See, this was difficult. I have a number of blogs in my reader, most of them Danish-language, and the English-language ones are often very popular. I am not sure that the below selection is entirely by the rules but I've tried to tag blogs in two areas only: Autism/asperger and spiders/other bugs:

For aspie blogs, I follow many different. These five blogs are written by women that have aspergers themselves and/or have children with autism/asperger.
1. The seventh voice. Intelligent and well-spoken mother of an autistic son

2. Mind retrofit. Aspie mother of three, writing about her own and her childrens Asperger experiences. She is very honest and I can recognise myself a lot in what she writes.

3. Aspiewriter. Title sort of gives away the content, huh? ;) Also an aspie mother of three. And she's an author which is cool :)

4. The inner aspie. Strangely, another aspie mother of three.

Did I mention that I am a mother of three and that I am aspie? In my country however, home schooling is extremely seldom. This seems not to be the case in the US, where these women are based (so I gather). I mostly follow the inner aspie on facebook, but her blog is an interesting read.

5. The alien hippy. Aspie mother of an aspie daughter and she has such a lovely, honest and well, touching blog. Please go and read it. An you can follow alienhippy on facebook, too!

The next five blogs I've tagged are abut something completely different: spiders and other bugs
6. and 7. Thomas Shahan and  Nature closeup both have the most beautiful, amazing photographs of spiders. Take a look.

8. And bugs can not only be photographed, they can appear in poems too! The scope of this blog is rather narrow and perhaps that's why this is so fascinating. Three-line poems about spiders and other bugs with 6 legs: 3linesabout6legs!

9. The bug geek. Again, title says everything. An entomology PhD student, unfortunately taking a break these days. Doesn't matter really, you can still enjoy some of his older posts.

10. My all time favourite bug blogger, the bug girl. Her awesome spiderman post is probably the best tought lecture about spider reproduction, I've seen or heard.

And for the last tag, something completely different. I love cooking and baking, but most of the blogs I follow in this field is in Danish. In fact all blogs in my reader of this field are Danish. Except for this one which is - - - Swedish! But she writes in English :) Call me cupcake!

Being oblong

My ex-husband used to say to me: You've got oblong feet. Oblong meaning that they had a weird shape such that they didn't fit into normal shoes my size. I've discovered that this feature does not only apply to my feet, but to my everything.

About once a week or so, usually during a meal in my family, I feel oblong. I say something which may not be disastrous by any means, but it just doesn't fit nicely into the conversation. It happens at work quite often, that I say or do something that is just a little off the point. And I realise, sometimes immediately after, sometimes up to several years after the incident.

Sometimes my being oblong is so embarrasing (seen in retrospect), that I feel permanently awkward when thinking about it. I see it as a defeat, and I never forget my defeats.

Sometimes my husband says: What do you want to do? And quite often I reply: I don't know. Being around other people is part of life. But I only feel not-oblong when I am alone. I like being around other people (some other people at least - and in small doses), but it is demanding because I am oblong.