Higher-Functioning Autism: On Thriving in Quarantine

Imagine that your phone only reaches 33% charge. You could keep it plugged in for a whole week, but the battery will never be more than a third full. The rest of the world, however, has normal phones. Thus, you can never quite keep up. You have to be judicious, only opening a few apps at a time, always conscious of how quickly your battery is draining. You have to prioritize, opting out of certain email lists and group chats and servers, maybe forgoing some platforms altogether. Even with the best of planning, there are still unexpected frustrations. Your phone dies mid-conversation, leaving the other person confused and annoyed by your sudden radio silence. You try to open too many apps at once, and your phone heats up like it’s about to explode.

Why Isn’t Handmaid’s Tale Woker?

If you think that living under a brutal totalitarian regime is bad, then you’ve clearly never heard of white feminism, aka the most destructive force in Gilead. As Melanie McFarland notes, “Sometimes white feminism is so emphatic in its insistence that the world reckons with it that it obliterates all else in its path…never does June fully interrogate the racist structuring of Gilead or any kind of ethnic-based hierarchy.” She spends so much time trying to find her daughter and make it out alive that she forgets to acknowledge her white privilege.

Anxiety/I Am Not Glittering

I want anxiety the way a five-year-old wants rainbow sprinkles. Bright, obscenely sweet. Unnecessary. Luxurious. An extra 50 cents, but they’re worth it. Catching in your teeth, but only for a moment. Wanted, swallowed, forgotten.

#ActuallyAutistic Isn’t Actually About Autistics

Last week, I wrote an article that appeared in the online magazine spiked arguing that Australian pop singer Sia is free to cast whomever she wants in Music, her film about an autistic protagonist. This controversy erupted almost two weeks ago when Sia released a trailer for the movie. The #ActuallyAutistic crew on Twitter had a lot of complaints…

Stopwatches, OCD, and Juliet’s Life Coach

Mission: Leave my biology classroom, walk across one hall and three flights of stairs to the cafeteria, grab a plate of food, refill my coffee cup, then climb two flights of stairs and walk a quarter of the way across the building to an empty classroom, where I would be able to eat with one hand and copy French verb conjugations with the other.

Time allotted: Five minutes.

The Endless Catching of Butterflies

Katya* loves catching butterflies with other people’s hands. I know this because I met her father, Kolya*, on a language exchange site earlier this summer, as I anxiously searched for someone who might help me brush up on my Russian. I must have exchanged messages with at least seven or eight people, both French and Russian, but my partnership with Kolya was the only one that lasted. These websites are like a geekier version of social media: people post profile pictures and DM one another, and some of the users are more interested in flirting than learning. (Fortunately, I had a friend who looked at screenshots of messages people sent me and helped me figure out if they were hitting on me…this is the kind of thing I have trouble figuring out on my own.) Unfortunately, these connections tend to be fleeting. I would go back and forth with someone for a few days before they or I lost interest, and soon enough, I had started more conversations than I could possibly continue. Still, I was determined to figure something out because my Russian was growing rusty, and the last thing I wanted to do was to forget everything I’d learned during the school year.

Language Learning for the Socially Awkward

I became fluent in Spanish for a ridiculous reason: my friend got a better score on a quiz than I did, and I was determined never to let that happen again. That wasn’t my only source of motivation – I grew enamored of Gabriel García Márquez and Octavio Paz, I loved speaking Spanish with the kids at the preschool where I volunteered, and I adored the sheer challenge of mastering the subjunctive – but competition was undoubtedly a part of it. When mastered, obsession can be a powerful force, and it constitutes the main ingredient in my efforts to learn French and Russian. The full recipes look something like this…

Celestial Navigation

As a kid, I loved the movie Peter Pan. Wendy was my favorite, of course, with the pastel blue nightgown and butter-yellow curls, and the eerie clock ticking in the crocodile’s stomach and Tiger Lily tied to a chair and left to drown…it’s a little dark, now that I think about it. But when I was eight I didn’t care, and I was thoroughly convinced that if I flapped my wings hard enough, I would fly. Actually, I thought that if I drank soda, I would fly, because my parents never let me have soda. The only possible explanation for this was that they didn’t want me to know how to fly. A diabolical scheme, indeed.

Me and Emotional Manipulation

Three or four years ago, I got called out for something I said about rap music: that I didn’t like it and that many musicians’ names started with “Lil” and were thus hard to tell apart.

“Called out” is a gentle way to put it. “Viciously attacked” would be a more accurate description.

It was a group conversation. Someone had brought up rap. I said I didn’t like rap. The caller-out asked me a question. In retrospect, they were probably eager for me to say what I said, to have the chance to pounce.

How I’m Staying Sane

Values values values. At various points throughout my life, various people have refused to shut up about value. Thus, I have done many values exercises. In tenth grade, we had to work on a project that include – I kid you not – “chastity.” Not sure if any parents, administrators, or other teachers were aware of this. (I did great, in case anyone cares.) That was one of the worst. Better: an exercise that involved a tournament-style ranking of values. Instead of just crossing off the less important values, you pitted them against each other repeatedly until you had your top five, three, and one. I particularly liked this because I realized that certain values fit into others – for example, I see kindness as a huge part of both integrity and humor (keeps you from cruelty/harm). Now, I talk about values with my students when I help them with their college essays, and this might be my favorite iteration, because a successful essay identifies values in context: what do you think is important, and how does that inform your actions? Nevertheless, these lists invariably omit one of the most important values ever: sanity.


Two people walk into a restaurant. They sit down at a table and order their food. The menu is written in small print, and Person #1 has low vision and thus cannot read the specials. The restaurant orders large-print versions of the menus, so Person #1 can now access the same content as Person #2. This is equality.

Words, Want, Matter

About a year ago, my younger sister embarked on a mission to misuse the phrase “per se” at every possible opportunity. “I’m probably going to go to bed a little early tonight, per se.” “Do you think it’s, per se, going to rain tomorrow?” “I’m getting strong whiffs of”–long pause–“turmeric, per se?” After a few months of this, I couldn’t for the life of me remember how to use “per se” properly. Even now, I leave it out of my writing because my memory of the term is so muddled.


The summer before tenth grade, I tried to turn my bedroom into an ideological Petri dish. Used Post-Its and song lyrics as growth medium, pipetted my dreams onto sheets of graph paper, let premises and poems grow like bacteria all over the walls. Like a spinning top, I gained momentum without going anywhere, my lunacy filling notebooks and megabytes on my laptop. Sometimes when you’re moving really fast, everything outside you turns into a blur. You can focus on things in your frame of reference for a little while, but even then, they exist independently of any external anchors. You’re trying to be the best and do it all and crush the competition and you end up losing track of everything in the process. Thus, the departure of reason…

How to Harness Light

If you’ve ever watched the Netflix show Atypical, you’ll know that Sam, the autistic protagonist, likes penguins. In the autismverse, there’s a particular term for Sam’s love of penguins: special interest. A special interest is like a neurotypical hobby on steroids. Tendency to fixate on small details + ability to hyperfocus on said details with remarkable intensity + cognitive stamina + tolerance for repetition = a relentless, all-encompassing, überimportant, incredibly special interest that means the world to its autistic owner.

Everyday Feminism Is Comedy Gold

Everyday Feminism’s articles follow a predictable set of formulas. They’re all essentially reaffirmations of positions the website espouses: center the marginalized voices, everything is critical theory, we live in a racist sexist ableist classist cissexist adultist dystopia, science is oppressive. I don’t think it would take a particularly sophisticated algorithm to keep producing this sort of content, because it’s incredibly trite and predictable. Most titles include a number; a buzzword; and a stock photo that probably wasn’t intended to be hilarious, which only makes it more hilarious.

Kind People and Dangerous Ideas

There are some questions that I’m not supposed to ask. It’s not because I don’t want to ask them, or because I think they’re bad or wrong. It’s because I’m told that these questions are too inflammatory, too controversial, and that I’ll be eaten alive for trying.

It doesn’t matter if I do so respectfully or curiously or with no intention of hurting anyone. Many people, particularly at Stanford, where social justice culture is thriving, don’t believe intention is important. It doesn’t really matter what you believe or how you form those beliefs or whether you’re willing to change them. It matters that you align yourself visibly and vocally with whatever cause is deemed right, and that you agree to view yourself and the rest of the world through the simplistic framework of privilege and oppression.

Woke No More

If you’ve been reading my blog posts in chronological order, you may have noticed that some of my beliefs are evolving. I’m done with the dogmatism around language and the focus on other people’s actions. Call me autistic, call me a person with autism, call me Lucy…as long as you treat me respectfully, I really don’t care, and you can expect the same from me. (The same respect, that is. Not that I don’t care about you.) I noticed that I was becoming quite self-absorbed in the name of “justice,” so I decided to cut it out. I’m shifting my focus from “activism” to being a kind human. In this post, I want to go into more detail about why I’m done with Wokeness.

Changing My Mind: Language and Labels

Scrolling through the posts on this site that I wrote back in April and May, I can’t help but be a little disappointed in myself. I put a lot of energy into arguing about what words people should and shouldn’t use to describe autism, or me. Those posts now strike me as well-intentioned, but still sanctimonious and fundamentally misguided. Here’s why.

Taking A Break From Activism

I keep walking by this sign in my neighborhood that someone has hung in their window. It says, “What kind of activism are YOU doing?” Just like that, with the “you” in all caps. And each time I walk by it, I have a slightly different answer.

“Triggered” and “Problematic:” Two Words That No Longer Mean Anything

This isn’t a matter of “one of these things is not like the other.” It’s more of an “each one of these things is sort of like the others, but also very much not, and for such a broad range of reasons that are now being obfuscated by vague language and shoddy critiques, many of which are made on Twitter, which was never a good platform for critical thinking to begin with.”

Girl Walks Into CVS

I buy the beef jerky and some protein bars and I stare at the little tubes of lipgloss and think, huh, capitalism, and I think about how, if you look at it closely, most of capitalism = shiny objects. I look at all the candies, the candy corn and the sour patch kids, or maybe they’re cabbages, and banana-flavored peanuts, and the light is all trickly and sterile. True or false: The virus is transmitted by light.

July 2020 Horoscopes

Cancer: The surface area of an average-sized brick is roughly 80 cm^2. The stars hope that this information will be useful to you somehow over the course of the month.

Girl And Her Autism

Once upon a time, there was a girl with autism who lived in a building with houseness in an area with citydom. The girl and her autism lived with her person with motherness and person with brotherness, plus two animals with ferretness. Often, the girl with autism called the person with motherness “Mother,” but we will not do that, because we know that a person with motherness is far more than just her motherness, and she must not let her motherness define her.

Reading Between the Lines of Mental Health Advocacy

Last week, I published an op-ed in the Stanford Daily criticizing Stanford’s Mental Health Week this January and pointing out the ways in which this particular campaign failed to meet the needs of students with serious mental illness. In this post, I want to elaborate on how I interpreted some of the campaign’s specific messages…

Would You Rather

The idea that happiness is an ideal state + the belief that one can choose happiness + the notion that happiness is the opposite of illness = blaming people with mental illness + minimizing said illness.

The Game

They laugh at you when you don’t know how to do something. They laugh at you when you try to learn. You quite literally cannot win.

I Have Insomnia And I Blame Phoebe Bridgers

Phoebe Bridgers’ new album, Punisher, is just a million layers of gorgeous gut punch apocalyptic clinically depressed road trip MDMA trip reflection on aliens and/or the lack thereof.


Some people might tell you that not everything can be quantified, that the human experience is more than just numbers, that there are nuances in life a single digit can’t capture. Those people are wrong.

The Best of Yahoo Answers

There are few things in life more edifying than perusing Yahoo Answers. However, in this busy modern world, many of us are left without sufficient time for this noble hobby. Lucky for you readers, I copied and pasted some gems below.

April 2020 Horoscopes

Scorpio: You may be strong, but the enormous group of crows you’ve enraged with your country music playlist is much, much stronger.

May 2020 Horoscopes

Libra: You will soon be disappointed to discover that interpretive waltzing is not, has never been, and will never be an employable skill.

Songs for April

My monthly playlists reflect a combination of how I feel and how I want to feel. E.g., January 2020 featured songs like “Asexual Wellbeing” by Okay Kaya, “Supalonely” by Benee, “Love You For A Long Time” by Maggie Rogers, “The Best” by AWOLNATION, “Wasteland, Baby!” by Hozier, and “Born to Die” by Lana Del Rey, because I love melodrama and I am not ashamed.

Follow My Blog

Get new content delivered directly to your inbox by magical elves who live inside of my computer and do my bidding and periodically write emails to random people telling them that I’m selling chinchillas as a new side gig. I’m kidding. It’s an algorithm.

%d bloggers like this: