Something that happened in my high school history class

(Brought to you by my internal debate about how long is safe to leave my stuff unattended in public places.)

The girl sitting in front of me stole my mechanical pencil while I wasn’t looking.

I was (comically, I assume) confused at first, because I assumed it had rolled off the desk and looked all over for it. But class was starting, so after a bit I just got out another pencil.

I didn’t realize what had happened until later, when the girl in front of me started complaining aloud about her pencil not working. It had actually broken weeks before, and I had jury-rigged it to work somehow– I don’t remember the details, but part of it was wrapped in blue painter’s tape– and she couldn’t figure out how to advance the lead.

I didn’t confront her about it, but that made me feel like I’d won something back anyway.

She was actually pretty approachable and nice to me most of the time, and I don’t know whether that makes this better or worse.

Ughhhh

Conversations about Abuse Discourse on Tumblr. It actually turned out pretty well, and I should have known this would happen sooner or later, but still. Ugh.

My ugh in this case is actually more about defensiveness than about the actual content of the Discourse, which is something for me to keep in mind.

Whoops

I have actual feelings about an actual human person*. How did this happen.

Not really crush-type feelings, but what you might call a friend-crush, a “squish”. Just “you are interesting and I like you and I want to talk to you more.” There are assorted other people I’d like to be friends with, but sometimes it’s A Feel and sometimes it’s not so sudden or obvious.

————-

*This is an echo from that faux-1950s Progressive Insurance commercial. “Actually, any wife, husband, or human person can use this…”

Orbital Mechanics

When I was younger, I explained my place in the world through the metaphor of an article in Scientific American.

The moons that we know of, the article said, occupy certain types of orbits– certain shapes, certain distances from their primaries. This is not because other types of orbits are impossible, but because they are less stable. A moon can be created or captured into any one of many unusual orbits, but over time, one of two things happens: it either is pulled into a more normal orbit, or it falls into its primary and is destroyed.

In my mind, this was a metaphor for the experiences of people like me. (At that time, that meant a nebulously-defined group of social outcasts– I had barely even heard the word autism– but in retrospect, what I meant by “people like me” overlaps with “people on the autism spectrum” pretty closely.)

What happens to moons also happened to us, I thought: we either assimilated or we crashed.

—————

The strangest thing about this, in retrospect, is that I thought of myself as assimilated.

I wasn’t really aware of people who “passed” better than I did as people like me– I don’t think I realized how good at passing someone could be, while still being fundamentally like me. In fact, what I had in mind was not so much passing as simply awareness of being different (and therefore bad.) Not passing, but hiding.

I never passed uncomplicatedly as normal, but– to the best of my own self-awareness, which was not all that good in retrospect– I avoided doing anything obviously weird, and I thought I was successful. I had a mental list of things that I might want to do but shouldn’t, because they were weird, and I followed it. I was successful, in that I didn’t usually receive overt negative attention or bullying.

Looking back, I was still incredibly weird. But I watched my even weirder classmates do things I felt were terrifyingly obviously bad, and be mocked and ostracized for their actions, and seem to not notice. They didn’t seem upset. They didn’t stop. I wanted to know how they could do that.

So, I thought, they must be too far away. They must be too different to be nudged by gravity and peer pressure into a normal orbit. They’re going to crash, or else they’ll slingshot away into space, beyond any contact with the realm of normal, and never be seen again.

—————

I want to send my love to everyone who passes ten times better than me, and spends ten times more effort to do it.

And to everyone who caused me secondhand embarrassment. I tried not to show it, and I liked you anyway.

Why I don’t wear makeup

even though I’m aware that it may put me at a disadvantage in e.g. job interviews.

  1. Practical reasons
    • Money- whether I go to a high-end place and get advice, or buy cheaper stuff by trial and error, it’s still a lot of money.
    • It’s hard to apply makeup when you’re as nearsighted as I am. Either my glasses are in the way, or the mirror is in the way, because without my glasses, my reflection isn’t in focus unless I’m about two inches away from the mirror.
  2. Priorities reasons
    • There are lots of reasons I don’t do well in job interviews and lots of things I would struggle with if I got an office job (e.g. phone anxiety). I’d rather spend my time and effort on improving things that actually affect my ability to do my job.
  3. Emotional reasons
    • I deal with all the insecurity I might have about my appearance and my ability to look fashionable by not playing the game on those terms.

‘Symptoms’

Some people talk about their autism-related problems in terms of symptoms that are sometimes worse and sometimes better. I don’t really see it that way (and probably no one is surprised).

First, because my “worse symptoms” feel like, and are usually pretty obviously caused by, fatigue. Doing a lot in a day, not getting enough sleep, not having enough to eat = “worse symptoms”. And those are all things that would make anyone, disabled or mentally ill or not, less capable than they usually are. So I think of those situations as being about fatigue, not about autism.

Second, probably because of my tendency to just accept various unpleasant things as Stuff That Is Happening, and keep going as best I can, rather than identifying it as a problem and trying to solve it. Is there a name for this? I know I’m not the only one who does it, but I don’t even have a direction to go in to suggest why I do it.

(Have I written about the time I dislocated my elbow, when I was little? And asked my parents for help tying a knot in my improvised sling, instead of telling them that it hurt to straighten my arm? That’s the most dramatic example I have of “well this is a thing that is happening” in action.)

Precariously verbal 1

Related to this post and this post.

Arguments– or not even arguments but debates, disagreements, conversations in which people are asserting contradictory things– are like rooms full of obstacles, in my mind. Stuff piled on the floor, stuff hanging from the ceiling. Pathways of logic, or argumentative positions I could take, are gaps between the obstacles that are big enough to fit through.

Deciding what to say– because it’s not just saying what I think, there’s a difference between what I believe is true, and what’s provable, and what’s relevant to the other person’s position– is like solving a maze, the slow way. I work my way down each likely-looking path until I argue myself into a corner, and then I backtrack to the last branch and try again, rinse, repeat, until I have something that I believe is true, and that fits into what the other people have been saying.

That’s important to me: what I say should be an actual response, it should lead from the other person’s position to mine instead of just being a tour of my position. Maybe most people don’t see that as a problem; for me, the difference between a statement and a response or conversation is very important, and “conversations” or “arguments” that are actually a bunch of not-really-related statements are very confusing for me. I’ve seen people spend so much time arguing and getting nowhere because they don’t realize that they’re defining words in different ways. That dissonance really bothers me, and I don’t want to contribute to it.

So, anyway, to make an argument I feel my way through this maze of ideas. It takes time. It’s a pretty complex thing to hold in my mind, and writing out every idea I try and discard would take even more time. Add the work of trying to create a specific tone and wondering how I sound on top of that, add assorted stress if it’s an emotional topic for me– both those things mean it takes even longer.

Then I refresh the page, and there are ten more comments, and this is why I don’t normally discuss serious topics on Facebook.