Mar 16, 2012 0 Share

Executive Dysfunction


Three repeated images of author holding an iron and a cigarette.
Photo by Brandon Christopher Schoofs

"Jeffi, where are we again?" I asked my sister.

Her answer came slowly, as if I'd requested a brief description of quantum physics. "Wal-Mart," she said finally.

And why did we come here again?"

"Um … to get milk." 

"Then why have we spent the last ten minutes sorting through this giant bin of 99-cent Hispanic videos? I don't speak Spanish, do you?"

If you read my column, “A Life-Threatening Case of ADHD,” you know that my entire family struggles with executive functioning, myself most of all. It is now nearly 2 p.m. This column is due in three hours. At this point I have written ... everything you have just read. The comma button on my computer has mysteriously stopped responding to the punch of my finger. No matter how hard or how many times I hit it no comma appears on the page. So, pressed for time as I am, I'm writing this column on my iPhone. Yikes!

As I struggle to become independent, I find myself overwhelmed by executive dysfunction. While living at home I had little to worry about save churning out articles like ticker-tape. Now I have so much more on my plate. I feel like there are a dozen hi-def TVs in my brain, each turned to a different channel, playing at full volume.

A friend of mine took me to the grocery store a couple days ago. Thank God he was with me! My cart was full of Captain Crunch, capers, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, and an expensive wheel of cheese with a name I couldn't pronounce. My friend politely explained to me that these items would not make for a week's worth of meals. He then helped me to compile a more nutritious selection.

I cannot seem to manage even the simplest of basic tasks without a hard set routine. In the past two weeks I have stayed in seven different places. I have dealt with the expulsion from my family home, an online stalker contacting my employers and claiming to be my assistant, the unwarranted cancellation of a speaking engagement, potentially stolen cookware, dog-sitting for an extremely hyperactive puppy, unexpectedly pleasant encounters with the police, the abduction and return of my boyfriend, the loss of a very dear friend, and a great deal more! Needless to say my routine had been more than a little interrupted.

Charming and hilarious as it may seem in hindsight, these past weeks have been emotionally draining. I've only had one major meltdown, crying, screaming and hitting myself in the passenger seat of my boyfriend's Mustang as he drove along a darkened highway with the top down and Elton John playing loudly to calm me and drown out the sound of my wailing.

I wish I could offer some helpful tips for making executive decisions and avoiding meltdowns, but alas, in the midst of all this chaos, I'm still learning myself. But when life gives you lemons ... get your money back and make movies!

I've decided to chronicle my struggle for independence in a madcap, viral reality TV series entitled "Fugitive Autistic Filmmaking." You can look forward to witnessing my adventures as a homeless autistic writer on the loose in the big world! “FAF” will be featured on a revolutionary website premiering soon, for which I am Creative Content Architect.

Hours of raw footage have been sent off for editing and I will be sending more every day. Head over to www.autismbrainstorm.org and join the mailing list for updates on the progression of FAF and other exciting features of this interactive community!

Life is absurd. I can cry and scream, I can give up and meltdown ... or I can laugh and make the best of what I've been given. When I step back and survey the madcap, delirious and often heart-wrenching events of the past weeks. I realize that I've been blessed with a life stranger and more compelling than any work of fiction. The Marx Brothers, Salvador Dali and Quentin Tarantino all working together could not dream up my outrageous existence. It may hurt like hell sometimes ... but it's never boring!