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.
I tell her I think I’m at a turning point and maybe I want to just do research full time and stop writing stories about myself.
Melissa tells me I’m at a turning point but it’s a turn around point. She says it’s one thing if I want to compromise the integrity of my career, but she has an editorial reputation to uphold, so going forward she wants me to add a disclaimer to all the poorly written posts.
Seriously. This is what I’m dealing with.
Even though I’ve yelled a trillion times about how terrible grad school is, I thought maybe I need to get a PhD so I could do official autism research. I contacted professors I’d want to work with and a couple offered to just let me do my research in their lab. No going to grad school. So I am trying it, at Harvard, and I wish I didn’t love it so much, but I do.
Also, I really want the professor to be my friend. It’s way more fun to work with a friend.
I tell her Kate and William are coming to Boston for a royal climate extravaganza at the Kennedy Center. While William is busy being tone deaf about our philandering mafioso JFK, I was thinking my professor could invite Kate to the lab because Kate is very interested in early childhood stuff and I am very interested in Kate.
My professor said, “You are so funny,” which is, I’m afraid, the neurotypical way to say “no, never, forget it.” What if she’s neurotypical? Then she’ll never want to be my friend.
Or maybe she’s already my friend. Because people with autism only have two types of friends: childhood friends or friends you work with. The work with friends can be paid, like official autism research, or unpaid, like carpooling with another mom.
My friend Caitlin came to visit me in Boston, and I invited our other favorite friend. N. We will call her N. For nameless.
We have done a bunch of autism stuff together which of course I have published in various places, because it’s hard to get me to do anything if I can’t publish it. I think that’s why I have sleep problems — I’d sleep so much more if I saw a path to profit.
Whenever the three of us talk and I’m not taking notes I feel like blog posts are slipping through my hands. So I paid a film crew to be there while we talk. Caitlin was fine with that but not N. We were like how could you not be fine with it, you’ve done it a million times and you were great. So N did it and got so pissed at me that she stood up in the middle and left.
My first thought was, oh that will be such great video. Because that’s the kind of friend I am. A bad friend.
The video shows how poorly autistic women communicate and how long-term friendships between autistic women can detonate in seconds. It’s not that we don’t have social skills so much as we are missing that inner urge of preservation that serves to protect the friendship.
Caitlin says a friend is someone you project with because our special interests matter more to us than our friendships. Is project a verb for everyone or only for people with autism? I don’t know.
In fact, I think the main reason Caitlin puts up with me is because her special interest is alternative medicine and I get excited when she tells me tidbits like in the future we’ll detox our livers as a way to cope with all the crap in the environment.
Z hears us talking and says, “Wait. Mom. Is Caitlin an elderberry lord?”
Caitlin says, “I’ve never heard that but I totally want to be that.”
N’s special interest is perfectionism. Really. Perfectionism is an autism thing — primarily autistic women who get really good grades and (note to Melissa: wait for it) become doctors as the ultimate expression of their greatness and then they realize too late that perfectionism works for tests not life, and as their kids get older and older they start to panic when they can’t preserve their treasured sense of superiority and just like that they become singularly intolerable. Boom. That whole post in a one paragraph.
I didn’t write that in the other post because I want to be nice. Because I want to have friends. But I think neurotypical people have good friends because their special interest is friends. And I’ve had a lot of special interests in my life but it’s never once been friends.
But posting is a forever special interest. So Melissa tells me I can’t skip editing posts because she knows I don’t talk to people unless I work with them. And she’s right.