Two Weeks in the Life: June 11, 2023

Hello, friends and enemies. Last weekend, we went to Lake Tahoe. We got lucky with absolutely beautiful weather. There weren’t a lot of people around either, presumably because anyone who wanted to go to Tahoe did so the weekend before during Memorial Day. We took it fairly easy with a little bit of walking around and spending some time reading on the hotel room’s balcony (well, I was reading. Kirk was playing the new Zelda game). We tried to go kayaking, but the kayak was not really right for my size and I kept capsizing. Did you know that Lake Tahoe is still fairly cold at this time of year? Still, it was nice to get out of the house and get a little change of scenery.

Books and Other Words

Here’s what I’ve been reading:

As I started to write about two of my recent reads, The Fairy Bargains of Prospect Hill by Rowenna Miller and Some Desperate Glory by Emily Tesh, I realized that they had a lot in common despite wildly different settings. Both novels are about women’s agency and how we can make our own choices despite oppressive systems. Sometimes those systems are run-of-the-mill, early 20th century patriarchy, and sometimes they’re a fascist, xenophobic space cult. Anyway, they’re both good.

The Big Reveal: An Illustrated Manifesto of Drag by Sasha Velour. Sasha Velour is one of my favorite queens from Drag Race (I mean.Come on.), so of course I had to read her book. It’s part memoir, part queer history. I loved reading about her childhood obsession with vampires and putting on plays in her backyard. And you can tell she put in the research for the queer history stuff. I learned a lot (plus there were pictures!).

TV and Music

On the recommendation of my friend Lito, I watched Drag me to Dinner on Hulu this week. Lito described it as being like Pee-Wee’s Playhouse, which, for me, is an extremely strong endorsement. It’s a “reality” show in which two pairs of drag queens put on themed dinner parties for the show’s judges. It’s so chaotic and stupid and hilarious. I loved it and I’ll be shocked if it gets a second season.

Rampant Consumerism

I have been trying not to buy shit I don’t need, but I do want to share that I bought a delightful new pill organizer from Pill Joy. They sell hand-decorated containers for your medication. It had never occurred to me that I could put my vitamins in something fun. It does, in fact, bring me some joy to see my new, festively decorated, pill organizer.

I also wanted to share that I bought some new shoes. Shoes aren’t always newsworthy but since I was in search of shoes for my plantar fasciitis, I figured all my PF homies needed this update. I bought a pair of shoes from Kuru, and so far they seem very comfortable and high quality. I must also give an anti-recommendation to Vionic shows, which is where I bought my last pair. They seemed okay but then they wore out really quickly. I don’t even wear my shoes that often and they’re falling apart after barely a year.

Autism Thoughts

book cover for Unmasking Autism shown on kobo ereader. Various wall art visible in the background
Unmasking Autism: Discovering the New Faces of Neurodiversity

In the last few weeks, I also read Unmasking Autism: Discovering the New Faces of Neurodiversity by Devon Price. This book is really important for autistic adults, especially those of us who didn’t find out about our autism until later in life. It explains how we “mask” our autism, even without realizing that’s what we’re doing, to try to fit into neurotypical society and the harm that causes us. I recognized a lot of myself in this book even though I’ve been “out,” if you will, with my autism for over 10 years now. Every day I read things online and I’m like “That’s an autism thing?” Hearing autistic people describe and write about autism is so important for us. This book is part of that niche.

Unmasking Autism has a number of worksheets (like this one) to help autistic people consider how we may have internalized harmful messages and overcompensated in our lives. One that made me feel personally attacked was a section on “Masking as Overcorrection” that explained, “an autistic person who has repeatedly been told they are selfish and robotic might instead wear a mask of helpful friendliness, and become a compulsive people-pleaser or teacher’s pet.” Oop.

I almost cried at various points in the book, from seeing myself so clearly and from the grief of having to do so much to fit into the world. It’s not hopeless though. Price also weaves in an inspired perspective on why autism isn’t the problem. For example, in a discussion about the social model of disability, Price writes, “It’s not actually a bad thing that we are spirited, loud, intense, principled, or strange. These traits are merely inconvenient to systems designed by abled people that don’t take our unique way of being into account.” I am also obsessed with this gem about neurotypical people being confidently wrong all the time: “I used to believe I was horribly inept for not being able to read between the lines of neurotypical speech. Now I realize most neurotypicals aren’t all that good at it, either.” Speaking as someone who edits people’s writing for a living, I couldn’t agree more. Louder for the people in the back!

There’s so much in this book but I feel like talking about it more is basically going to be me paraphrasing the whole book. So you should just read it instead. However, I will add just a few more miscellaneous thoughts. Price gives us some definitions of autism from our perspective, unlike “how the disability impacts neurotypical people,” which is how it’s usually defined (seriously, these diagnostic criteria are written from the perspective of “this annoys me” and not anything to do with how we see ourselves). Price says that “autistic people process the world from the bottom up.” That is, we’re seeing the trees, not the forest. Or perhaps we’re Sherlock Holmes, noticing all kinds of little details. On the topic of “autism is inconvenient for NTs,” I must highlight the fact Ole Ivar Lovaas, that the guy who invented applied behavioral analysis, which is one of the main therapies for autism, is the same guy who invented anti-gay conversion therapy! What the fuck! Don’t treat your kids with the therapy from the gay conversion therapy guy!

Kitchen Witchery

I’m still working through all the beans I got in my Rancho Gordo Bean club subscription. I put the chickpeas to work in this manata with chickpeas recipe from Pasta Grannies. I did not have pasta-making energy that day, but the chickpea sauce was totally good with regular old noodles from the store. I also made marcella beans with leeks and a parsley pistou, served on top of some noodles. Sorry I don’t have a recipe to link for this one, it was on the mailer with the bean club shipment! I liked this recipe but we are learning that Kirk doesn’t like white beans (internalized racism??? lol). I think it could be improved by throwing some feta on top, so that’s how I’m going to eat the leftovers. Because corn is now in season, I made this corn and coconut soup, which we quite liked. Finally, I baked these carrot cake scones with cream cheese frosting. I’d been meaning to make this recipe for like two months and finally god around to it. Worth the wait!

Cat Therapy

Finally, here are some cat photos for your nerves. I’m making up for the last post’s lack of Huey photos.