07 April, 2011

from June 2009

[I found this on my old livejournal, it's quite different from how I feel about things now but I thought it might be interesting.]

Liz called me yesterday because she was bored.

I'm accidentally rereading my favorite book, Send in the Idiots by Kamran Nazeer. I just accidentally reread it all the time; whenever I see it I kind of fall into it. I read it for the first time two and a half years ago and it's what made me interested in working with special needs people, which I'm now convinced that I want to do forever. A guy who was diagnosed with classic autism as a kid, and has improved to the point that he's pretty much normal, profiles other autistic kids from his childhood school. The people he profiles are all verbal and have attained different levels of "being better"--one is in a relationship, three have jobs, one lives alone, one doesn't "look" autistic to other people. They all have coping mechanisms they use to manage their autism, some more unusual than others, and Nazeer wanders off into long explorations of why these mechanisms are necessary, what they do, and which ones he uses himself. Actually he wanders off into long explorations of everything so that, for example, we get a discussion of the word "genius" and how it's used to excuse people's bad behavior, and whether the purpose of a conversation is to express what you think. So it's not just a book about being autistic, it's a book about being human, from an autistic perspective.

Maybe because I've been reading the book I kept talking to Liz about putting up a front. She kept asking me doesn't it bother me, but I can't really imagine another way of being. When I started figuring this out a few years ago, I feel like that's when I grew up. Like three years ago: I have trouble putting words together, fast, in the right ways. And I have trouble talking or reacting in what looks like a normal way, or figuring out how to react at all. So I figured out that when I was looking for an emotion, I'd choose "excited." I couldn't buy things before because I didn't know what to do while I was waiting for the thing to be rung up. Then I figured out I could act excited about what I was buying, and it went from there.

So now I have this whole conception of my personality: young, excited, spacey, stoned, random giggling, weird questions. It doesn't involve doing things I would never do, I guess, but it does try to put them in a palatable Manic Pixie Dream Girl package because I feel like that's the only acceptable way for a girl to be weird. And also, if I seem like this cute kid who is really overwhelmed by things, then people will be more likely to make allowances for me, whereas if I was an adult who was really smart and intense and could be sort of angry and nasty, like most people, and still needed people to make allowances for me--well, then it wouldn't be cute anymore. Once I have a negative interaction with someone, I feel like they know how awful I am. I don't feel like I can be both a negative person and a person who sometimes needs to be treated like a child.

Something that really bothers me is when people think that I'm immature. I understand why, it's the obvious reaction to a person who acts like I do. But I wish people could understand but this was the only way of synthesizing my AS into a reasonably acceptable personality, and that when I started acting like a kid, that's when I grew up.


  1. That's interesting. It seems to relate back to the stuff in your "I'm a fake person" post as well.

  2. Yes.

    Your Pixie Dreamer seems more three-dimensional than many of the portrayals on the Internet or in the movies.

    Anita Sarkeesian, guesting on Sociological Images (a site I discovered in 2009 after EQI.org people pointed it out), had a very current look at the Pixie Dreamer.

    Sarkeesian's interpretation focuses on how the Dreamer helps others to be more functional. She didn't really look at it from the inside, how it makes the Dreamer more functional and mature.

    Sarkeesian's interpretation of the Pixie Dreamer. Mentions Arrested Development. Today's the 7th, so written on the 2nd

    Thinking about the internal and external changes from the past 2 years and tracing them.

    (And Andre and the puppets! And the posters that he uses

    Oh and one died by their own hand).

    There's a distinction there between an accepted persona and an acceptable personality.

    The scripting part is revealing and works.

    One of the things which disturbed me as a girl was when people (boys) might ask, "Are you on drugs?" and I was very much against drugs.

    (That is the emphasis on the "Manic" in the MPDG).

  3. thanks Adelaide! I didn't like the video itself much but the comments were really good.

  4. hey... that rings a bell for me.
    Thanks for your thoughts!

  5. Ack. It's hard for me to read stuff like this now even though I could have written something very similar a few years ago. Once I found out I was autistic I sort of had a "What am doing?" revelation. I guess it's significant that most of what I learned about autism at first (after going through a few "professional" and "expert" resources) was the stuff at autistics.org, so my mindset about autism was and is very different from someone who received lots of "social skills training" and things like that.

    I have mixed feelings about doing this kind of stuff now, but I can't say it was an entirely negative experience. I understand some things that I couldn't before and if I'm in a potentially hostile group over the short term I can often turn some of this stuff on. I think a lot of it for me was just spamming the "I am a nice person" signals that Amanda Baggs talks about in one of her posts. She points out that people who don't do them at all are often seen as bad people even if they do really good things, and that people who send a lot of those signals can get away with doing very bad things. They are really pretty powerful if you can do them. But then it sets a standard that some people can't live up to, and it's not really fair even for the people who CAN live up to them.

    I am male so the things I had to do were probably different than what you did but I still had people saying things like "Oh he's a really happy, he's quiet but he's nice" and I was actually still at this point somewhat depressed (they describe me as being "mild to moderate"ly depressed/anxious, which I guess is an improvement over when I was younger). So I know how to look completely opposite to how I'm actually feeling now. Is that good? I don't know. But I get less of those "I'm really good at reading people but I just can't read you!" things I used to get.

    PS please tell me if I'm doing something you don't like or if I'm being annoying somehow. I don't say this so that you can constantly reassure me but so that you can not constantly reassure me and I still feel okay because I'll know you'll say something if I do something annoying.

  6. Oh, I thought of another thing. While I share your interest in deconstructing popular culture, I don't share your interest in popular culture itself, which means my opportunities to descontruct it are more limited. So I hadn't heard of "Manic Pixie Dream Girl" before. But I'm reminded of a past friend of mine who once told me something to the effect of "The reason why I act silly and talk about monkeys and that kind of thing is because no one gets upset then." She definitely got seen as being more immature for it, too, even though I wouldn't call "immaturity" one of her faults. So I imagine this is an archtype a lot of women feel the need to live up. My friend was not autistic but she had an abusive parent and was actively suicidal for most of the time I knew her, and someone tried to diagnose her with ADHD but she gave that person the boot before they could follow through with it. She told me that even though I didn't always make her feel better (I tended to approach her problems as a sort of logical puzzle at first because I didn't know how else to try to help her) that I was one of the few people she didn't have to put up that kind of facade for and wouldn't "freak out" or try to dismiss her. I ended up being pretty much the only person she felt like she could talk openly about her feelings and experiences with and that can be huge for someone.

  7. You're not doing anything wrong! You're fine.