I’ve stopped saying yes to interviews because I piss people off. Or I scare them. I’m not sure I can tell the difference. If someone hangs up in the middle I know they hate me, but if someone doesn’t hang up in the middle but also doesn’t use the interview, I think, maybe they liked talking with me but they’re saving the interview for a really special time. In ten years.

I broke my vow of silence to be a guest on a podcast with Meghan and Sarah. They have a cool-girl vibe that victimized me the first 50 years of my life. But I think my time has come.

Also, I read that women are supposed to make a lot of friends in their 20s in order to learn about social norms. And then women cull their friends to just a few special ones in their 30s so they can focus on family.  So women are set for family and friends in their middle age.

I am pretty sure I’m still at the first part: learn about social norms. But I’m definitely making progress because Meghan and Sarah posted the interview! Here it is, hooray.

Why is no one wondering why Netflix paid so much money? I’m surprised. It seems so obvious to me, so I haven’t said anything, but it’s one day before the show starts and I have to say it now so everyone knows I was right.

Before I tell you what’s in the Netflix movie, I want to acknowledge that I have a history of being incompetent at breaking news. For example, Alexis Ohanian accidentally told me that he sold Reddit before he told anyone else. I didn’t realize how big it was and I broke the news, buried in paragraph five of an umpteenth blog post about how to manage your career. Then I had no idea why it was catapulted to the top post on Reddit.

I also accidentally broke the news that Obama would win Iowa propelled by millennials. This is the thing about being right about that though — I was already writing trend pieces about millennials every day.

Anyway, media outlets didn’t pay attention to the part where I said that I was in Iowa visiting my brother and had never seen a caucus before in my life. Reporters starting putting me on tons of interviews for the news and I didn’t realize that I predicted Hilary to win the New Hampshire primary after she had already lost.

I did that on live TV. Whatever. Breaking news is hard business.

That didn’t deter me from running five blocks to go see Will and Kate the minute they arrived in Boston.

Unfortunately the only news I could break is that it’s totally annoying to make everyone listen to a speech about how we are all standing on stolen ground before we can see Will and Kate. It’s too much. If the Americans can have 200 years of over-the-top racism and still bitch about British racism when Will and Kate get here, then I think it might just be the end of royal family goodwill tourism.

But still, William and Kate looked adorable in their matching outfits. I am not reporting this though. I saw it secondhand from all the press pictures of them gallivanting around Boston. I am no good at breaking news, but I am great at patterns — I have looked at every outfit Kate has worn since she got engaged and they do not ever dress like twins.

Which brings me back to what’s in the Netflix documentary. I wasn’t going to scream about how I’m right until I saw Will and Kate being all matchy-matchy.

Look, Harry needs two very big things to reveal in order to get a big deal from Netflix and a big deal from his book publisher. These are two places that know what is worth paying for and what isn’t. The trick to figuring out it out is knowing Netflix has the smaller of the two big things, because the book is coming out after the show.

Harry and Meghan are going on and on about how the royal family didn’t protect Meghan from the press. Because it’s true. William had an affair with Kate’s friend. It was going on for awhile, but there was a handshake agreement between the royal family and the British press to not write about it.

But press outside England wrote about it, so then the British press did too. The royal family went ballistic, so the British press retracted, but it was too late. A Scottish journalist who worked at the newspaper refused to removed it from his Twitter, saying everyone in the media knew about the affair and he’s Scottish so the injunction doesn’t apply and the London press is pathetic in the way they kowtow to the royal family.

Fine. Press outside England covered the story. And it still blew over.

But while the hullabaloo was happening, Meghan and Harry got engaged and the PR team for the royal family tried to distract people by throwing Meghan to the press.

I actually thought it was so obvious that everyone must know this, but no one is writing about it. In the eyes of the royal family, it was way better to have Meghan and Harry take a hit than Will and Kate, because Will and Kate’s marriage is the future of the monarchy.

I feel like, okay, fine. I get it. The royal family acts as a unit, protects the crown.

And William and Kate look so adorable in their matching outfits that how can you not root for the monarchy? If we were the future ruler of a commonwealth who among us would not have a dalliance with the marchioness next door? Whatever. No one cares. Because it’s relatable.

Meanwhile Harry and Meghan are whining and whinging that we don’t have enough empathy for them about being thrown to the wolves but it’s because they have made us so sick of them. Which means the rest of their documentary is filled with literal stock images because they have pretty much nothing else to say except Will cheated boohoo.

Here is where I have empathy for Meghan and Harry. I know what it’s like to be bad at breaking news. And they are really, really bad at breaking news.


My earliest memory is when I learned to read. I was three. I sat in a tiny rocking chair in my grandma’s house with Dick and Jane. And it just clicked. I didn’t know how I read the words, but I did.

In kindergarten a teacher asked, “Who knows what elamenopee means?” I could already read long books but I didn’t know what I was singing with L-M-N-O-P.

In first grade, I told the teacher I can already read. She gave me the dictionary and told me to read it. I read it. She asked me what it meant. I said I didn’t know. To me it was not obvious that reading and understanding went together. Now I know autistic girls have poor reading comprehension.

The only time I felt like it mattered was fifth grade when I got put in the gifted program. We read The Witch of Blackbird Pond. I spent three weeks trying to understand the first two pages and was relieved to be removed from the program.

My first semester in college my professor announced I got the highest grade in a class of 200 kids where I was the only freshman. I didn’t do any of the reading. At some point I realized there is no correlation between reading the material and understanding the material.

Those famously long books like Anna Karenina and One Hundred Years of Solitude? I threw them away.

I like a book I can read in one day. When I walk into a book store, I shop the spines. I know the authors who write short — because I feel like they write for me. Jamaica Kincaid. Sandra Cisneros. Susan Minot. Susana Kaysen. Who cares that teachers sprinkle these books across eighth-grade reading lists?

I love telling you about books because I love telling you about words. But the price of that is autism — reading words early cost me reading faces later.

Autistic brains are full of imbalances. For example, our brains are extraordinary at retrieving past events that happened to us. But just like our lack of executive function means we have a flat hierarchy for our to do lists, we also have a flat hierarchy for our memories — we have categories rather than chronology.

Now I see why nitpickers say I’m not a reliable narrator. It’s not about reliability it’s about relatability — their memories don’t match my patterns.

Neurotypical people have the type of autobiographical memory that creates a chronological unfolding of events. Autistic people have episodic memory which is nonlinear.

In literature, autobiographical memory is canonized in the narrative arc. We describe that like epic (Odyssey), philosophical discussion (War and Peace), or the Great American Novel (Moby Dick).

Nonlinear writing by men commands serious words like stream-of-consciousness (As I Lay Dying) or just The Longest (Proust). Nonlinear writing by women receives diminutive labels like flash fiction (Lydia Davis) and slice-of-life (Annie Ernaux).

This is why, when Annie Ernaux won the Nobel Prize in Literature, I cried. The spines of her books are thin. Her chapters are short and the sentences slide across the white of the page.

The Nobel committee commended Annie Ernaux’s courageous approach to personal memory. I hear this as a call to arms for autistic women to write our stories.

Because there is no body of work from women describing the autistic experience. We have not known about autism long enough. Annie Ernaux reflects our sensibilities but not our context. She provides a blueprint and the literary legitimacy, but it’s up to us to create a canon of consciously autistic literature for the next generation to look to as they grow from autistic girls into autistic women.

The more memories we have the more compelled we should feel to write them down. And we up to the task. Because just like autistic men dominate math, autistic women dominate memoir.

Autism workshop/seminar/discussion magnum opus coursus.

Designed by Lisa Be for Project Vortex

As you may know, I’m doing research at a lab at Harvard where I focus on autistic women. One thing I’ve learned is there are lots of easy, objective tests we can give ourselves to determine if we have biological markers for autism. I’m excited to share those with you so we don’t have to have any more discussions about everyone asking themselves do I have or don’t I?

I also notice the news that will help women the most is very slow to get to the public. So I’m offering a workshop to give autistic women groundbreaking research into their lives right now. The workshop will meet once a week for ten weeks, starting this week. Here are some topics we’ll cover:

  1. Use the same techniques that labs do to quickly diagnose female subjects for autism. It’s easy and fun. You can try it out on everyone.
  2. Question people who say they improve executive function. Science says only two things work, and they’re really weird things.
  3. What to do about a speech delay when research shows it’s more important to decrease the mother’s stress levels than get a kid into speech therapy.
  4. Don’t look for friends, look for special interests, the friends will follow. Neurotypical girls make friends their special interest; no wonder we were lost in junior high.
  5. Find out the one thing autistic women do that makes all camouflaging fail. But also, does this mean we can all stop trying to mask?
  6. The biggest problem autistic women have is emotional isolation. If an autistic woman isn’t feeling that then her kids are; understanding why helps you understand what drives you.

We’ll also have a discussion board to talk about any topic that interests you as it relates to women and autism. I’ll drop in each day to shed some light — or some tears — because it’s always in the free-for-all where I learn the most.

Closeup you see that we’ve all had to navigate the world in similar ways as autistic girls and women — knowing there was something wrong but we didn’t know what. Some researchers call us the lost generation of autism but talking with you all makes me feel like the found generation.

People are joining from all over the world, so the meeting times accommodate a range of time zones:

Tuesday 9pm Eastern
Wednesday 8am Eastern
Thursday 5pm Eastern

The deadline to sign up is this weekend. The cost is $150.

Sign up here.

And one more thing. I’m going to send videos of me and my friends talking about autism. This video is me with Caitlin. You get it without even signing up; in the middle she talks about a group of autistic women we created a few years ago that was so transformative to her. How could you listen to that and not sign up now? Really?


During Hurricane Ian millions of gallons of pig feces whooshed across North Carolina. Pig poop gets my attention. I raised my kids on a hog farm and the water was too contaminated to drink due to decades of farming with gestation crates: a birthing invention of factory farms that is a stacked storage system to get the most pigs per acre.

In past years Hurricane Florence and Hurricane Matthew sent feces flying so we know which problems ensue: human sickness, contaminated drinking water, rivers, plants and fish. There’s a race issue as well. The farm owners are white and their pig shit lands on property Black people own.

We don’t see many politicians taking up this cause. The pork lobby owns North Carolina. The only other state with significant hog operations is Iowa, and you can’t win a presidential primary if you trash talk pigs.

But California sidestepped the fact that pork producers don’t live in their state and 68% of voters said California should not permit the sale of pork from gestation crate farms. Many attempts to control the pork producers have failed, so whiners dismissed this one as The Bacon Apocalypse, but attorneys shepherded the law through two appeals, and this week the Supreme Court will hear the case.

The state of California will argue that gestation crates are the worst example of animal confinement. The crates don’t allow any movement for pregnant pigs; they can stand or sit but cannot turn around for most of their life. I hope California also adds something about how pigs have an intense social-emotional life and a higher IQ than dogs.

But like all legal matters, conversation will probably stick to money. The pork industry will invoke interstate commerce laws to say replacing gestation crates with moderately larger pens is too big a burden on businesses outside of California. The Court will use the Pike Test to determine if the consumer’s moral cost of eating ill-begotten pork outweighs the producer’s financial cost of reconfiguring crates to be larger.

The cost argument only works because the meatpacking industry controls farmers, and only the few financially independent hog farmers could study the cost of switching from gestation crates. But also, universities capable of producing this research are funded by gestation crate manufacturers.

My son discovered this problem first-hand. Our farm switched from gestation crates to free-range farrowing while he was growing up. The farmer had a degree in hog genetics and we collected data for nine years using a (mostly) scientific method which at the time was annoying, but created a data set like no other in the US.

The switchover was financially successful. There were fewer sows per acre, but each sow had a larger number of healthy piglets and the herd no longer required an antibiotic regimen. There were also huge cost savings for labor, because gestation crates have to be cleaned constantly and it’s disgusting work.

More dramatically, unlike their dull, inert created counterparts, free-range piglets at two-months could run around the pen in little groups like puppies. They were fun and curious and could always make their way back to their mom when she called.

In high school my son wanted to work with a professor to see if he might like being a scientist. So he gathered qualitative and quantitative data from 100 sows and more than 1000 piglets and presented it to agriculture departments at universities. Even though there is no data set that comes close to this in quantity or quality, there were no takers.

One professor said that for a study on this topic he would need comparable data for hogs in a state-of-the art gestation crate system and hogs out of crates with equivalent conditions. The key: state-of-the-art. All hog research from academia must be funded by the manufacturers of gestation crate systems.

My son didn’t get to work with a professor, but he did have a good answer for the college essay prompt: Write about a time you failed. And today he’s studying psychology, because he realized the question of why gestation crates have not been outlawed is clear. But the question of how farmers cope with daily abuse when they’re so close to their animals is a much harder question to answer.

No one has devised a perfect questionnaire for determining a narcissist, which is why the New York Times makes the argument for cutting narcissism from the DSM.

We know what narcissism looks like: pompous clowns who are sad on the inside, treat people like shit wherever they go, and perhaps most importantly, have no idea that they look this way to other people.

That sounds like autism to me. Not all autism, but the version of autism where there is the most focus on knowing information and least focus on understanding people.

The narcissist wants people to see when they are right and the narcissist wants people to listen to them, but the narcissist does not want to listen to other people. The narcissist does not notice other peoples’ feelings, but if the narcissist’s feelings are hurt and they get angry.

That sounds like autism as well. Not all autism. But people with autism who I don’t like.

When the narcissist is having a terrible time in life, they might seem to change, but the narcissist does not have enough personal insight to change. They might seem to understand that they are all about themselves, but they don’t really understand.

This is everyone with autism: We think we see ourselves and we think we are managing the parts of our personality that are anti-social. But if we could do that, autism would be curable.

We go to therapy to complain about a parent or partner or terrible dates. And therapists need a word to describe people who are transgressive. Narcissism is a word that enables people to empathize with how hard it is to live with the person.

Except that every time I coach someone with autism, they bring up the word narcissist to describe someone in their life. But autism is genetic, and it can’t be that everyone in the family has autism except the narcissist parent. Really. Autism is genetic. The parent has autism too.

Sculptures by Laurent Craste remind me of autistic men with high IQs who can’t understand themselves, or other people, and let their rage and anger destroy the people they love. I grew up with a father like this and attracted men like this. I know what it’s like to live in fear. They have periodic urges to change but it’s clearly impossible for them.

People with narcissism have the same type of brain as people with autism: very high IQ with unpredictable dips in certain areas. People more numerically gifted are more stubborn and rigid. People less numerically gifted are better at camouflaging those autistic traits. Narcissism, then, is the numerically gifted version of autism.

Why is this important? Because people with autism marry other people with autism. We are drawn to each other because it’s genetic so autism feels familiar to us. Also, we don’t play normal dating games so neurotypical people screen us out of their dating pool; we’re too weird.

So you and your partner have autism. You are not diagnosed because the mental health profession has no idea what they’re doing with autism. They are not trained well in diagnostics and they miss it all the time. So you really need to recognize autism yourself. Luckily it runs in families so if you have one person you can catch everyone. There is never one person with autism. Really. I swear.

You will both always have autism, but if you understand your autism you can use it more effectively. For example autistic people are competitive because we don’t understand how to be valuable to people outside of logical ranking systems. You and your partner both have this trait. But your partner is more competitive than you and less good at masking it.

At some point in the dating process you liked that you’re both winners. And everyone was on good behavior so no one noticed that you are low-conflict and your partner is high-conflict. But the truth is you’ll do anything to avoid conflict. So you give in. And the high-conflict person sees that and assumes they’ll get what they want.

Your partner doesn’t have to change for your relationship to change. You can decide to face conflict and establish boundaries. For example, someone can blame you for whatever goes wrong, but you don’t have to accept that as truth. The person can pick fights with you but you don’t have to take the bait. You could leave, but that won’t change the fact that you don’t deal well with boundaries or conflict. And it won’t change that people with autism marry people with autism.

So consider that narcissist is really the word for “autistic person I hate.” And you can make things better by managing your own autism more effectively. Give it a try. If nothing else, the number-one complaint about people with narcissism is they blame everyone else for their problems.

My 9/11 post: Why everyone should watch the Queen’s funeral live

People watching the moon landing on television at a cafe in Milan in 1969

My son told me they read a study about the unreliability of memory in his psychology class. He said people who were at the World Trade Center when the Twin Towers fell reported they learned about the towers falling from television.

I asked him what is unreliable about that? I told him even though the first tower literally fell on me, I thought a bomb had been dropped. I was completely covered in dust and no one thought I had mental capacity to know more about what had happened. I didn’t learn that the towers fell until the evening of September 11. I didn’t learn about it on TV only because I had gauze covering my eyes and someone had to tell me what happened. Read more

I tell Z I’m going to my garden next to our building. He doesn’t respond. So I sing to him. We have determined that he tunes me out most of the time, but he doesn’t if I sing to him. He tells me not to take it personally but regular talking is really uninteresting to him sonically. Read more

Melissa wants you to know that she did not edit the post about how doctors are the most annoying of all the professional women I coach. I did not, in fact, write that in the post. Melissa points out that it’s what I was trying to write, but I got distracted piling on all the links she’d normally be taking out. Read more

Z’s hearing is still deteriorating from the car crash. I think he might be ready to call it quits on cello.

I have a hard time knowing what to say because it’s all so sad. I have to stop myself from becoming  Julie Andrews, tossing out desperate suggestions.
Read more