Alexander Gordon Jahans
It is said that autistic people are creatures of habit, that they rely on routines to impose order ton a chaotic world. As my mother continually sqwarked during childhood when I objected to be being dragged along on her her impulsive adventures. “You don’t like change!”
For me that has always been bullshit. I have something very akin to Delayed Sleep Phase Disorder so I find it hard to keep any kind of schedule or routine since for me days and nights are a very relative thing. The jumbled mess of Doctor Who’s continuity has thus always made more sense to me than any coherent and consistent plotting. Fuck order. Fuck routine, do what you do as you need to, want to and have the energy to do.
Except now, though my body remains reliably unreliable on the sleep front, I am finding that a sort of routine has become established and important. Get up, boot up the computer, do preliminary scan of inputs and missed messages, clean teeth, catch up on missed facebook stuff, have breakfast. letsplays then tele binge, maybe a writing or game session or whatever chore that needs doing today, more letsplay and tele, read a chapter of one book, read a chapter of another, go for a walk, more letsplay and tele, clean teeth, bed.
What makes that occur? Is it simple accretion? Things that happen to slot logically into place? I mean it’s true that the catchup makes most sense at the beginning of the waking time and that since the book reading requires use of the family armchair iot makes sense to leave that until the family have fucked off. It is however much more than that.
There is an English myth of a Chinese curse that says “May you live in interesting times.” Well we certainly live in interesting times. Personally, my home of so long is being sold and I’m still not sure where exactly I’ll be living. Politically Brexit is up in the air, the Scots look set to have another independence referendum and there is a general election in June. The fascists are on the march with only one of them displaying any degree of actual competence. Capitalism is dying due to technological unemployment but noone is noticing because the madness of Trump and Brexit is overshadowing the existential threat to our society.
There is a phrase from the best series of Doctor Who ever, the Virgin New Adventures, that goes “Eighth Man Bound” referring to the terror of the the current Doctor, an otherwise powerful manipulator, and his inability to see beyond his own death and rebirth. That sums up my feelings better than any mythical Chinese Proverb. Just one of these political questions would be enough to utterly change the road ahead. Even a return to status quo would mean a radical change to the energies of the people and politics. So I am Eighth Man Bound, unable to see much farther along the path. Where my future, the future of my kin leads, there is just darkness, a great abyss of the unknown.
So I take solace from routine, from the plodding predictability of my life. It angers and frustrates me. I share with my mother an innate desire to to do the opposite of what authority says so with “You don’t like change!” still echoing in my ear I find great satisfaction in fucking up my own life. In destroying the fragile routine and sanity that I have accreted. Yet I need that routine and mundanity now. I need to know that no matter where I live and what happens geopolitically that my life will act as a reliable footpath into the future.
My breakfast will always be Tetley Redbush tea with two to three tea spoons of sugar, made in the same mug and a sandwich made from wholemeal bread, smooth peanut butter, margarine and ketchup. That there will always be diet coke and mints when I’m down, hydrocortisone pills at 9 am and 5pm, a multivitamin pill once a day. That my one meal of the day will be vegetable fingers, a burger and microwave thai rice or potato waffles. That I will always check the same podcasts and youtube channels for updates and keep finding new tv shows to binge watch.
In these interesting times when it seems the whole world is Eighth Man Bound, my chaotic routiine and habits act as a lifeline of stability. Now if you will excuse me I’m going to have breakfast.