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.
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…
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.
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.
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.