hookup yoga

The day after, I was angry. I’d slept less than an hour, and I was beyond exhaustion, in that otherworldly frantic space from being awake more than thirty hours: like wine-drunk, a strange hollowness in the chest. If my brain had been able to slow down I’d have passed out at my desk at work.

The day after, I was angry because I carry now a memory of him, casually naked in his kitchen at 4am, washing dishes, pouring the rest of a beer down his throat, moving around the kitchen in a familiar graceful and efficient way while I leaned against a counter and wondered if I was awake enough to safely drive the three hours up the mountain to work. He pulled a slab of bacon from the fridge (from the heritage-breed hogs he raises), diced it neatly, and threw it into a cast iron skillet (he restores them, that is some of his work). Coffee in an electric percolator. He slung eggs in the skillet on top of the bacon (you can tell when someone has an innate knowledge of kitchen timing, that confidence and grace). He wasn’t there to impress me, he was just focused on what he was doing, and that is different – the lack of self-questioning. He asked me how I take my coffee, added the cream, and handed me a hot mug of strong coffee, and a minute later, slid in front of me a plate with an english muffin egg and bacon sandwich.

Driving home in the early dark I was angry because I had to mentally recalibrate everyone I’ve ever been with.  I’d measured experiences on a scale up to ten, and suddenly, it goes to eleven. I was angry that I have to carry the memory of that moment while knowing the incredibly slim statistical likelihood of meeting someone else who also occupies every category I seek, who is passionate about and experienced in and knowledgeable about literally everything I have been working for years to bring into my life. It’s so much easier to be mediocre and complacent because mediocrity and complacency are easy to find.

I expect there are other women. There’s always a skinnier prettier little pieces of ass to show up to get fucked. There are always pretty little things who are better at engaging emotionally than I am, and who don’t have the constant obligations I have. I don’t give a fuck. I don’t have to try to prevent that from happening. I don’t have to be engaging and sweet and make an effort to be desirable. I’m not going to try to be something I’m not, I’m not going to compete.

There is no sweetness in this. This may be a particularly autistic way of approaching intimacy. I categorize, I calibrate, I understand the world through numbers, feelings matter only as far as they can be quantified. There are lists, venn diagrams, flow charts and equations. When it comes to intimacy, I am transactional and efficient. I approach fucking like it’s the discussion of a business partnership. I am looking for x, y, and z; within these parameters.

So I left, and I sat with the discomfort of knowing I’d just hit a peak I’ll likely never reach again, the discomfort of not knowing if I’d see him again, and I kept my mouth shut. I do not reach out. I didn’t take action based on how I was feeling. Communication is brief. I’m not going to be pushy or needy. I am working very hard to not give a fuck. I continue going out there when I’m asked. I am just here to be a good piece of ass.

I have a child, and a career, and I work all the damn time. I have friends, I have obligations, and I have neurological differences that prevent me from functioning as expected and required in emotionally intimate relationships. Might as well be okay with that.

Each time I leave, it’s the same discomfort. So I sit with the fear. If it’s the last time I ever do that, I might as well get comfortable with that. What am I in the absence of external validation? What am I without reassurance that I’m attractive, engaging,  desirable? Sit with that discomfort. Lean into the places that hurt. Don’t use those feelings to make decisions. These feelings of discomfort are my feelings, they don’t belong to anyone else.

There is a rat eating a hole in my heart, but I can breathe around it, and I’ll be okay, and eventually the rat will go. The third and fourth day of silence are the most difficult, and by the fifth day, I’m okay again.

When I’m alone, it’s easy to allow myself the comfort of imagining that I’ll eventually be good enough for someone else, that someone else will eventually love me.

It’s very different to accept that I am not owed that story by the universe. I am not owed the experience of some perfect partner out there waiting to meet me. I am not owed an “other half”. I am not owed reminders that I am attractive and desirable.

I know I’m cool as hell. I’m brilliant, I’m creative, I work hard all the damn time, I’m really funny, I am good at listening, I am highly competent, and I give a fuck about things that matter. I didn’t need a boyfriend to tell me that I’m cool when I work on my truck, I just work on my fucking truck. I’m the best piece of ass for reasons I won’t go into here.

But I also know my skills are not socially valued, and the skills that are socially valued in women are not skills I possess. I know that my way of being in the world is troubling and hurtful to neurotypical people who see my bluntness as criticism, who do not understand why I take things literally, who communicate through subtext and subtlety and are frustrated and hurt when I do not understand subtext and subtlety. I cannot learn to be unblind to social communication, any more than someone who is colorblind can just try harder.

I appreciate the practice of sitting with discomfort, leaning into it, learning to be okay.

rabbits and crows

I was driving back to work from my lunch break when heard a high-pitched scream. I stopped the car and looked to my left, through the chain-link fence of the high school parking lot, and I saw on the ground a cluster of crows and a rabbit. One of the crows was worrying something on the ground, and that something was a baby rabbit, and the baby rabbit was shrieking: over and over and over again, the high whine like a newborn human in distress.

The adult rabbit, the mother, ran toward the crows and they took to the air and something fell from the sky, smacked the pavement, and took off running.

I pulled out my phone and I began to film.

The crows returned and picked up the baby rabbit again, and it screamed again, and the mother rabbit hopped toward them, and the crows took to the air, one holding the baby in it’s beak. The baby fell again, the mother ran to it, and they ran together, and the crows returned. The sun continued to shine, bright mid-day spring sun, and the sky was a cheery bright blue, and the clouds were puffy streaks along the blue, and the crows again picked up the baby rabbit and took to the air, and the baby rabbit screamed until they dropped it.

The mother gave up the third time the crows snatched and dropped the baby, although it was still able to run, still able to scream. The mother returned to her nest under the hedges by the fence, and a car came up behind me and the driver tapped the horn, irritated that I was idling at the stop sign. I put down my phone, put the truck in gear, and drove on.

The video is less than two minutes long, and I don’t know what else I could have done.

Should I have jumped the fence at the high school in the middle of the afternoon to chase away the crows? I’d be a midday trespasser, running, waving my arms like a crazy person, and security would come rushing down.

Should I have rescued the injured baby rabbit and called a wildlife rehabilitator? I’d be a midday trespasser kidnapping wildlife.  In high school I volunteered with a licensed wildlife rehabilitator, and I can tell you that the work of raising up and re-wilding an injured baby animal is tedious and rewarding, but I cannot tell you that it’s “worth it” for the little creatures so likely to die on the highway or in the jaws of a neighborhood cat.

Should I have jumped the fence and granted the baby rabbit a quick death? Then I’d be a midday trespasser murdering wildlife.

While that’s the most gruesome option, it also seems to be the kindest, and I have done this before.

Once, living on the commune in the woods in the mountains, I shocked a boy I liked when I abruptly picked up a steak knife and walked out of the kitchen and reached down into the tall grass and picked up baby rabbit the cat was torturing, it’s flank ripped entirely open to the bone, and I sawed that steak knife right through the tiny rabbit’s screaming throat. I had not yet slaughtered chickens or meat rabbits, I did not know how to quickly pop a rabbit’s neck vertebrae, but I didn’t think the slow death being given to the rabbit by the cat was fair. I felt responsible for the little fist-sized clump of downy fur once I’d killed it, and I took it back to my house, and I skinned it and I gutted it and I fried the haunches, little thumb-sized slivers of meat, and I ate it beside a dinner of rice and beans and collard greens.

I eat meat. I eat dead animals, and those animals were once alive, and if I can’t handle facing their death I don’t deserve to eat them. On the long path to connect with the source of what sustains us, I have felt called to fully understand the sacrifices that are made in order for my life to continue. I am driven to understand the fullness of the thing. I have raised backyard chickens, and loved them, and eaten them. I have killed animals to eat them, and I have killed them as quickly and smoothly as possible. I have joined farmer friends on the hardest day of the year to give my hands to the slaughter, so that my skills can remain sharp, so that I do not become complacent. I have forced myself to not turn away from the blood and the shit and the slime. I flinch away from the casual hands of strangers, and I can’t stand to be touched by any child that is not my own – their little hands are the wrong temperature, or too moist, and I feel a crawling on my skin like the wet trail of a snail. But I do not turn away from the death of animals. This being human makes me responsible to them.

I didn’t do the right thing filming, gathering a minute and thirty seven seconds of video. I thought when I started to film that the rabbit had won, that I’d have some epic badassery to share, a mother rabbit chasing away a murder of crows. Instead I have a minute and a half of torture and screaming and sadness – crows doing what crows do, rabbits doing what they do, nothing sentimental. In my eating of meat, I’d prefer a kind life and a quick death, and the same for myself when the time comes.

 

prosciutto

 

“I believe that one of the most dignified ways we are capable of, to assert the reassert our dignity in the face of poverty and war’s fears and pains, is to nourish ourselves with all possible skill, delicacy, and ever increasing enjoyment. And with our gastronomical growth will come, inevitably, knowledge and perception of a hundred other things, but mainly of ourselves. Then Fate, even tangled as it is with cold wars as well as hot, cannot harm us.” -M.F.K. Fisher, 1942

I have an afternoon free and I’m in town, so I’m at a farm. We carry bags of feed to the pigs, find shiitakes on the logs by the creek, move a chicken tractor. I’ll take any opportunity to be involved in the work on a farm or in a kitchen: the rituals of food are sacred, the rituals celebrate and bring us closer to the source of what sustains us. It matters to do what is important when you can. Be mindful when you’re walking, pray with your footsteps and your hands, connect with the divine as you wake dry yeast to life with water and sugar and raise the breathing dough into bread, celebrate the divine in one another as you break bread with your beloveds and with strangers. Harvest wild foods and be grateful. Knowledge shared is a kind of prayer.

We know ourselves by the stories that connect us with the purpose of what we do and the people who did these things before us. As Martin Prechtel writes, our work as humans is to live beautiful lives that honor the source of life, and particularly in these days of decline, to reconnect with the traditions of our indigenous ancestors (we all had indigenous ancestors): to become ourselves ancestors worth descending from. For this reason, I have grown San Marzano tomatoes and canned them up as the red sauce that is the blood of Sicilian ancestors, and I have sat in the light of winter and traced needle and thread through the stitches my grandparents placed in the quilts that warm the beds, repairing the wear on the stitched fabric made from my mother’s worn-out clothes, and I will pass these quilts and these stories on. The connection and the story are sacred.

Comfortable in the afternoon light, he’s pulled from the fridge bags of pork jowl, remnants of the pigs he raises. I recall my grandmother’s baked pork jowl and pinto beans and collard greens, the ritual lunch on New Year’s Day, a southern Appalachian tradition: the collard greens and pinto beans represent the money that will come to you in the year, food is fertility. With the food came the admonition that what you do on New Year’s Day you do for the rest of the year; time is a fractal, recursive, and this is honored in tradition.

I’m sitting at his kitchen table, sipping a beer in the warm afternoon, listening to the sudden heavy rain outside, watching as he slices through the slab of meat with a small knife, and I think maybe each knife is his favorite knife: many of them made by friends, handed down from friends, populating the kitchen with their stories.

He’s pulling out the sliver of jawbone and the small glands, tossing the raw meat of the jowl into a pan – pink, juicy, flabby. There’s a digital scale over to one side of the kitchen, and an old three-beam scale on the other side, and a small calculator. He’s weighing each pork jowl on the newer digital scale, calculating the salt and spice with a memorized ratio, and weighing the salt and spice into his grandmother’s brandy snifter placed on the triple-beam scale that belonged to his father.

The pork jowls are bagged up with their salt and spice and slid back into the fridge, an equilibrium cure. Whoever receives them will cook and prepare not only a meal but a moment, a story, a slice of death-become-life and the alchemy of salt and time and the result of the work that is sacred.

Laying on another counter is a prosciutto, a whole shoulder-and-leg-and-foot, dry and compressed and dark, cured with salt and hung since winter. It looks like exactly what it is: the carefully preserved part of an animal, recalling the mummified bodies of a saint, sacred relics, ancient traditions. He watched this boar as it was born, he fed it and raised it up, killed it, cut the body apart, built the salting box from old barn wood and the smoking boxes from old restaurant refrigerators, and hung the shoulder in his workshop through the winter. This is the body, given to you.

Traditionally it’s the ham and not the shoulder cured for prosciutto, and traditionally not an intact boar: unless castrated, the fat of the boar will carry an intense aroma of musk and ammonia, a flavor that, to some, ruins the meat.

He opened the prosciutto a few nights back to share with friends who will be moving away soon, a communion, another layer of story to the food that sustains us. Today he’s cutting carefully into the inner meat of the shoulder and the leg, pulling away tissue-thin slices of the clean and compressed layers of fat and meat. Blood-dark red outside, as pink as your inner lip inside and marbled with smooth white. The outer crust of the prosciutto is dry and salty, the meat inside is soft and sweet. The leg laid out on the counter, although transformed by salt and time into food, bears none of the artifices we usually see from the nourishment of our over-processed lives. Here is the foot, and here is the bone in the shoulder that connected this leg to the animal, and the muscles that moved, and here is the flesh cut away like a surgery, like an anatomical drawing, the grain of the muscle and the clean lines of fat, and the knife sliding in, and his hands inside the body of this animal, and the insides on the outside where they should never be. The intimacy is raw and disturbing and honest.

Soon I taste a piece that carries the taint from the uncut boar: the thin sliver of meat is soft and sweet on my tongue, salt at the front of the flavor; and as I chew, the fat releases a punch of sharp musk straight up my nose from the back of my mouth, and I recognize it as the fragrance of an unwashed and undeodorized body, intensely male. Paired with the sweetness from the alchemy of cured meat, the flavor profile now has an edge and an intense complexity.

I imagine this salt-cured boar shoulder described by a sommelier in the poetry of wine, I imagine it marketed as “like bacon that tastes like raunchy fucking,” because that’s what it is, right there on the table and on my tongue, the intimacy of the inside of the body split open and bare, and the alchemy of salt and time. Too much salt or too much time will kill you just as well as having none of either, but there’s nourishment and poetry in the balance, in the equilibrium, in the cure.

autistic evil billionares

THE RECLUSIVE HEDGE-FUND TYCOON BEHIND THE TRUMP PRESIDENCY :How Robert Mercer exploited America’s populist insurgency. (New Yorker, March 27, 2017)

Robert Mercer is a billionare behind Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. He and his family are using their wealth to create an America they believe in – one where the nuclear fallout from the bombing of Hiroshima was good for the health of the Japanese, where global warming is good for agriculture, and where black people were better off before the Civil Rights Movement.
While listening to this week’s Best of the Left, I heard a piece (youtube link below) describing Robert Mercer’s eccentric beliefs, unemotional valuation of human life (value = wealth, so he’s more valuable than someone on welfare, who has no inherent value), and his reclusive habits. As mentioned among several sources, it seems painful for him to make eye contact.
The conversation around this person is centered in OMG how terrible awful he is, so robotic, so uncaring.
It’s painful to hear someone who is very harmful described as having autistic traits, and I wonder what the conversation would be like if those traits were named as autism. Is it possible to separate autism from ethical orientation? If he were to meet the diagnostic criteria for high-functioning autism, could that explain both his self-made accumulation of wealth as a “brilliant computer scientist” and also his robotic judgments regarding the value of human life?
I recognize that robotic valuation of life in myself. My value as a human is entirely transactional. I don’t apply this rule to other people because they possess many data points to which I don’t have access, I assign every other person the value of “Yes, you deserve a good life”.  Also, I do inherently want other people to be happy. The idea of thinking someone else has less worth than me is completely horrifying.
But, because I have access to the data points regarding myself as a person, I understand that I inherently do not have the same social value as someone who has more symmetrical facial features and better social skills. You mean neurotypical people don’t think this way, don’t apply blunt logic and math to everything? I could delineate my entire existence onto a scatter graph on a whiteboard. Every relationship, every interaction, is a mathematical calculation.
(I have value to myself, I have value to the people who enjoy my existence, but I do not possess characteristics which are highly valued socially, therefore I do not possess a high social value)
If autistic people cannot experience emotion the way that neurotypical people can, and if we cannot experience empathy (because we cannot read and predict others’ emotional responses – obviously there is a range of ability here) – if it is really so terrible to have a calculator as a brain-
sometimes it is just very difficult to believe that I ought to continue to exist.

communication

I called him from the town where we met, where I still live. I called him where he lives now, a time zone away, halfway across the continent. I dialed a number with an area code the same as many of my friends, three digits that reference the broad spread of this place that is home. I am amazed at the portability of identity, this ease of access. He is so far away.

I had sent him a text a few days before – “How are you?”

I thought, but didn’t write, because it’s too much:

I think about you often, I want to make sure you are well. I have measured in small ways the turn of seasons in this town against memories from the years you lived here: soon there will be the spring festival and then the sister autumn festival at the campground where I saw you play on the stage with the big band behind you, where you stood beside me at the bonfire. I no longer eat at the cafe where we used to sing. Sometimes these things remind me of you and I want to be sure you are well.

Sometimes we allow people to dwell this way within our interior lives. It’s a gift, to be  open to memories, to give a friend a place within the mansion of our  minds. As much as the observation of seasons brings us closer to the truth and closer to the good life, community is something that exists not only in the physical space when we are in the room together, but also when we allow ourselves the heart-openness of knowing others, remaining connected.

(We have gone years without speaking. I have gone half a year or longer without thinking of him, but part of my heart is forever broken open, in a good way, but in the painful way the flower must burst from the bud, from the hours spent sitting beside him doing nothing more than showing up and being there, Being There.)

So a few days ago, he called after my text, and he left me a voicemail, and he said some words, and some of them were what I’d not said – “I think about you often enough”. He apologized for accidentally having his phone on silent. I’d missed his call because my phone was also accidentally on silent.

I called back. We talked.

There are always synchronicities where he goes- they travel with him, like the rippling wake of water behind a boat. I don’t know if he sees them.

(The position of an object in space is only known in relation to other objects. You can know the position of a particle or it’s speed but not both. There are certain things you can only see from the corner of your eye. When you’re in the woods and you’re hunting, whether for deer or for mushrooms, you open up your awareness to the gestalt, the patterns within the larger field of view, instead of looking at each individual leaf. Sometimes you meet someone and you know they know the same truths you know.)

There are parallels in our lives: observations, lessons we have learned. A desire to sit with a difficult experience rather than pushing it away (the mental jujitsu), a desire to throw ourselves into challenges to keep ourselves sharp and strong by overcoming them, always learning. Sit with this.

Right now we’re working hard to learn to live with something similar that we recognized in ourselves, in our histories, in our generational and epigenetic constitution.

And we are choosing to sit with it.

Compost that shit.

And we find reassurance in the belief that what we are going through as individuals is an echo of the global struggle to live with and grow from our cultural and generational histories of trauma: the planet has cultural PTSD, our acceptance of ourselves is mirrored in the increasing connection of the world as a whole, and is also mirrored through the ways computer learning and data analysis shape decision-making and influence the world.

We are not in this alone. Each part is a reflection of the larger whole. Our small lives are themselves fractal and recursive.

I need to remember this.

How do we live in a time of war and global connection? How do we live when technology takes over our lives? How do we live when a Nazi has the nuclear launch codes?

We all need to remember this. The struggle of waking up, the way sickness is a message to pay attention to taking care of the body. The part is a reflection of the larger whole. A person is a world, a cell is a community.

And I’m grateful, always grateful, forever grateful, for the people who have come into my life and together (meaning is created through the overlap of two fields of awareness) we have co-created a beautiful and simple and unconditional acceptance. It’s a privilege to appreciate someone and not need anything from them, and to be given that gift in turn. Emotional generosity.

Sit with it.

rules

Separately from the political, as if we could separate from the political, is some news from home.

My son and I have been talking about autism. This is a big step.

I don’t remember when I first told him he’s autistic – maybe after an IEP meeting at school when he wanted to know what we were talking about, or maybe when discussing the medication he takes and why he takes it (I require his input and buy-in on decisions like medication and interventions). I know that I initially explained it pretty vaguely – I think I said “autism” is a word for how he sometimes feels and behaves, like when he needs to wiggle his body around a lot and he can’t stop.

He went with me this weekend, with my aunt, at her initiative, to a three hour workshop on “coping with challenging behavior”, designed for the families of and people who work with autistic people. He sat in the room and colored and read a book, and in the car afterward I told him autism affects people very differently  – some people are so affected they can’t speak, for example. He said “Oh” and “Okay.”

We stopped at Goodwill on the way home looking for house things, and he found a book he wanted to buy. It’s called “Rules”, and it’s a chapter book for kids. The narrator is a girl whose super-annoying little brother is autistic.

Right there in the middle of the Goodwill I said “I’m a little concerned about this book. I don’t want you to think everyone finds you annoying.”

And he said “I read it at school and I didn’t think that!” so we bought it.

Later he was telling me the narrator meets a friend who doesn’t speak. Turns out the kid in the book is nonverbal and uses a speech board with pictures and words on it to communicate, just like was discussed in the workshop.

Thomas does not “seem autistic” at first glance. He spent today in the office with me because school was out on a snow day, and he was for the most part quiet and well-behaved. He was quiet and well-behaved because I brought books and snacks and activities and we wrote out a schedule at the beginning of the day and I had a clock he could use to check the time against his schedule and we had a motivational structure in place. He has the quality of hyperfocus: difficulty breaking away from a task, requiring a lot of support to be able to stop doing something before he’s ready.

He doesn’t “seem autistic” because it affects everyone differently, it’s a spectrum, and we had a structure in place, and structure helps, and because for the most part our expectations about “high functioning autism” overlaps with our expectations for “young boys”.

At a doctor’s office two weeks ago I had a meltdown.

The doctor was new to the practice, I had not been there in a year because I had been working with a wonderful psychiatrist who had to move away recently. I was there because I needed a refill on my anxiety medication so I do not go through withdrawal and have to go to the emergency room and have an involuntary commitment because I cannot pay for that shit. I should be working with a psychiatrist, but there literally are none in town that take new patients so I have to instead make enough money to afford to drive three hours to see a psychiatrist.

The doctor was in the room for less than five minutes. When he asked how I was doing I launched straight into my full medical history, the ptsd and anxiety diagnosis, and how I’e tried literally every class of antidepressant and anxiety pill, and how the diagnostic codes on my bills are wrong I am not diagnosed with depression that’s why I’m not taking antidepressants, and why I haven’t been there in a year and what medication I was prescribed and that I need a refill because I’ve been between jobs so I haven’t had insurance so I don’t have a psychiatrist yet and beside there aren’t any in my town with availability so I just need a refill please.

He didn’t understand what I was talking about.

He said “I don’t understand what you’re talking about.”

So I tried again, slower – I was seeing a psychiatrist but she had to move away and I need a refill.

He asked if the medication was working.

I said no, because it isn’t.

He asked why I want a refill, then, if it’s not working.

I started to panic.

Because it’s not your job to do a full psychiatric evaluation, and I just got a copy of my billing history and y’all charged me an extra $150 the last time I talked too much and I can’t pay for that right now, I just want to not go through withdrawals, I will go through withdrawal if I don’t taper slowly off this medication,  I just need a few refills until I can find a psychiatrist and another therapist and get a plan in place.

He said “I’m getting the psychologist” and he left.

I was crying by the time she came in – because the doctor didn’t follow the script. I have a lot of scripts for interactions but I don’t have enough, and if they’re not followed I don’t know what to do. It’s like a black hole, like an abyss, it’s terrifying.

She agreed to have the doctor write a refill.

She wanted to know if there was anything else she could help with.

I said “I’m trying to get a referral for an autism evaluation but I know you don’t know me well enough to do that and I’m not coming back here so I have to find a new doctor and build a relationship and I don’t know what to do so that probably won’t work anyway.”

She said, “You don’t seem autistic.”

I had not made eye contact with her or the doctor. While I spoke my eyes were all over the room, I was waving my hands around as I spoke, and I refused to sit in the patient’s chair because it was too crunchy and that made me unable to think. I answered questions literally even when it was against my best interest, and my pressured speech worried the doctor, and when I wasn’t talking I was flipping the fingers on my right hand in a stereotypic movement that arises like a compulsive tic when I am anxious. I did not appropriately engage in small talk, and I unnerved them because I didn’t follow social rules.

But I didn’t “seem autistic.”

She does not specialize in autism. Her understanding of autism excludes high-functioning people, especially high-functioning female people. There’s a damn good reason an autism evaluation usually takes three fucking hours. Shit is complicated.

In the weeks since that appointment I have dedicated approximately twenty minutes every day to talking to myself in the car, rehearsing what to say the next time someone tells me I don’t seem autistic.

So I can have a script.

Because I’m on the goddamn spectrum whether you like it or not, and it has a significant enough impact on my ability to function that I would like a fucking diagnosis so I can either fix this shit or develop realistic expectations about my life because I am tired of getting fired from jobs or panicking all the time at work because I am on the fucking spectrum.

I don’t seem autistic in a ten minute interaction in the doctor’s office. I don’t seem autistic because I don’t tell you all the very specific rules I have for my clothing to avoid sensory over-stimulation. I don’t tell you about the scripts, about the meltdowns, about the bluntness that everyone else sees as criticism, about how I ruin every intimate relationship I have by being unable to understand subtlety, by speaking too directly, by taking things too literally, how I don’t understand the point of jokes, how I failed to appropriately follow social behavioral rules as a child and the kinds of trouble that got me into on a regular basis, how much I rely on routines and lists and schedules, how I am periodically nonverbal, how I communicate primarily through the recitation of facts with no concern for whether it hurts someone else’s feelings.

Today my son caught me talking to myself, thinking out loud. He smiled at me and I smiled back and we laughed, and he said “Um. Why do you move your hands so much when you talk?”

I remembered my friends in high school grabbing my hands because it would make me stop talking. Funny trick. Ask her a question and then grab her hand and she can’t talk.

I thought about my body language, how sometimes I use my entire body as a gesture when I’m speaking, how the vast majority of people don’t do that, how it’s always been a “quirk” I have. I remembered a friend from high school, wondered if he’s also on the spectrum, remembered how he’d talk your ear off about something he was interested in, how he’d sometimes zoom when other people were walking, sometimes jump straight up and down when he got excited. All the little quirks that, if you’re lucky, your friends accept. I thought about how I look to other people and how rarely I am aware of how I look.

I said “You know how I said autism affects people differently? For me it’s how I move my hands when I talk. You know how you have to finish what you’re saying when you’re talking and you can’t stop until you’re done? It’s kind of like that”

 

 

there is a poetry in this

ruby screenshot 1_3_workspace.png

There is a poetry to this:

gem ‘spring’,

gem ‘byebug’

gem ‘listen’

There are rules and a rhythm, there is organization and there are relationships.

I am learning to write in the programming language behind many of the websites we use, the websites that are shaping our culture: Twitter, which is a visual method for interacting with a database, where the database is composed of the “tweets” you enter into the box on the page, where that “tweet” is an object living in a table, which is composed of rows and columns (like an excel spreadsheet), where an item in one table (your name + your tweet) may have a relationship with another table (someone else’s name +retweeting your tweet).

Information is made up of component parts, which relate to one another in ways that are predictable.

We can only create positive change if we understand.

“Yellow” is an attribute, and items exist which have that attribute: lemons, dandelions, golden retriever puppies.

Those items also have their own attributes not shared by the group: round, flower, fluffy.

Brains are computers and computers are brains. We use logic to make decisions (that logic might be flawed or invalid but it is logic nonetheless). We assign meaning to events, and create rules for behavior and interaction based on those events.

We view people as items which have attributes, which belong in a group.

All Muslims _____. Gay people are ______. Black people are ______.

This is how our brains work.

Compassion gives us the tools to break out of these strict categories of understanding, to stop being racist selfish assholes. Fear keeps us stuck in these boxes.

I have found a way to create tools for the resistance, and I’m making, both for my own education and to share, what I hope will be an interactive website based on INDIVISIBLE: A Practical Guide to Resisting the Trump Agenda.

Coding for the rebel army.