Celebrating My Blog-o-Versary!

Notes on Crazy (the blog, at least) turns one today. Cool huh? Well, I think it’s neat. Happy birthday to me!

cartoon birthday cake with one candle, next to it are the words "Happy Birthday Nattily!"

It’s my first blog-o-versary!

This is a much easier thing to celebrate than real life birthdays. The real person that is me, the Natalie person, has a birthday and thinks “…and?” Am I supposed to celebrate surviving another year? It always feels strange (at best) and shameful (at…medium).

But this is so different!

Today Nattily, however exactly Natalie chooses to represent that part of herself online, has not only survived a year, but authored some interesting posts, had links shared around the autistic community and tangential communities, and moved readers to tears with just her words (or so I’ve been told).

Sure, she’s had her fair share of “why does everyone hate everyone?” She’s wanted to curl into a ball many times, and then she’s done just that nearly as many times.

But she’s also uncurled herself, learned something about herself or others from the experience, and been generally better for it. Well, probably.

So to celebrate, I’m listing off posts I’m proud of. A list of my all-time most viewed posts, and a list of my all-time personal favorite posts. Because these are things I did, that mean something to me, that mean something to others, that exist because I damn well made them exist at some point in this last year, along with all the rest of this year’s 147 (…oh wow) published posts.

That is irrefutable cause for celebration.

Notes On Crazy’s Most Viewed Posts (Year 1)

  1. Thoughts on Todoist (Basically I Like It) – a raving celebration of Todoist, my personal favorite of the executive function apps I reviewed in this post (also on the top viewed list) here.
  2. Auditory Processing Disorders: Academics and Experience Collide Again – a mostly informative/educational talk about central auditory processing disorders based in my academic studies in a speech pathology program, but also quite a bit of what works and what doesn’t with my personal experience with my CAPD
  3. Why Everyone Needs to Use Whatever the Fuck Language They Want - an impassioned plea/tirade/something for those of us who are easily triggered to stop trying to force living, breathing languages to accommodate us instead of admitting that upsetting words used without malicious intent aren’t evil, and that demanding society respect our status as “victim” (or else) instead of appealing to human kindness and compassion maybe hurts the cause we are working for
  4. Proud To Be A Grad School Drop-Out: #AutismPositivity2014 - my submission to the Autism Positivity 2014 flashblog, explaining what being in a master’s program in speech-language pathology was like for me as I worked to accept my autism, and my much criticized decision to walk away from that program I couldn’t reconcile my own ethics with
  5. My Identity is not Your Enemy: Stop Combatting Me – my submission to the Stop Combatting Me flashblog – that called for reform of the “Combatting Autism Act” – about my experiences since very early childhood knowing I was different and trying to identify how, and feeling so much at home when I put the word “autistic” to the differences I saw

Nattily’s Favorite Posts (Year 1)

In no particular order…

  • Because You Kinda Hope You’re Autistic – a look at why self-diagnosed or adult-diagnosed autistics feel so shameful about claiming to know themselves better than others do, when that’s a perfectly reasonable way to feel
  • The Non-Verbal Fairy – my first thoughts about admitting that occasionally losing my speech when overwhelmed, and what it would be like to really believe that it’s not “all in my head” (followed by part 2 and part 3, if you’re interested)
  • An Open Letter to Dan, Danny, and Abed* – part of my Television Perseveration series, a heartfelt message to the creators of a character that let me accept myself as an autistic person, and who means more to me as a fictional being than a lot of real people in my life
  • And It Hurts, Except When It Doesn’t – a good hard look at why “fake it till you make it” can be the best thing, the worst thing, or just something you can’t let go of for some unnamed reason, until you can let go of it
  • in the end i only see beauty – an attempt to just barely touch the surface of my incredibly complex love/hate/everything in between relationship with ballet, and the best explanation I can put into words for why it will always be a part of me
  • Dear Nattily, Love Nattily & Atypical Pain Expression – a pair of posts about perceiving and interpreting my physical pain and discomfort in atypical and often unproductive and unsafe ways (I talked about the neurology of my pain perception more nerdily in my post Brains and Pain and Brain Pain)
  • You Only Love Owls, Things I Wish People Didn’t Expect Me To Defend, & Lists on Lists and Lists of Lists – three posts, mostly unrelated except for their general lightheartedness, where I just get super autistic and talk about lists, obsessions, lists, quirks, lists, owls, phobias, lists, annoying people, and lists

And a special bonus list, because neither Nattily nor Notes On Crazy exists in a vacuum…

Favorite Posts From (A Few Of My) Favorite Bloggers (Nattily’s Year 1)

Again, in no particular order, and with no descriptions given because these amazing bloggers have incredible voices that should really speak for themselves…

I am exhausted. I need some birthday cake. Or at least some blog-o-versary raspberry tart:

Nom nom nom!

Nom nom nom!

-|-

 

  • Ok I have to admit it. This post about Abed is my all-time favorite of my own posts. It meant a lot more to me, and still does, than I think is immediately obvious to most readers.

 

Crying at Quotes Taken Out of Context

You were hurt badly, and those scars will be with you forever. I feel sorry for you, I really do. But think of it like this: It’s not too late to recover. You’re young, you’re tough. You’re adaptable. You can patch up your wounds, lift up your head, and move on. But for her that’s not an option. The only thing she’ll ever be is lost. It doesn’t matter whether somebody judges this as good or bad—that’s not the point. You’re the one who has the advantage. You ought to consider that.

Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore

book cover of Kafka on the Shore

A beautiful book. A surrealist novel about losing yourself and finding yourself. Nothing to do with narcissism or abuse; nothing to do with me at all. A quote taken completely out of context, in a book that couldn’t – generally speaking – be harder for me to project myself into. That’s probably why I love the book so much: it’s so captivating in writing that I don’t need to place myself into the story.

And yet, sitting on a mostly full #6 bus on my way into the loop this afternoon, I found myself ripped from the story and the characters I’ve settled into a comfortable dream-world with. I found myself choking on these lines as I choked on the startling taste of tears in my throat.

I blinked a few times. I disappeared into myself for just a moment or two – not enough to span the distance between two downtown stops. Then I highlighted the passage on my kindle, and let myself fall back into the story. I got off the bus at my stop, walked to my appointment, and went about my day.

I don’t need to give these words any more thought – though undoubtedly I will give them quite a bit more thought – to know I’m facing my life a little differently this evening from the way I faced it this morning.

This artwork highlights the labyrinth inside/outside theme in the book, which I personally find the most interesting motif to explore in this novel.

“Kafka on the Shore” artwork from violentino on DeviantArt

Trying to Parse This “Try” Music Video

There’s this music video going around celebrating women as they are and promoting self-confidence without needing to look good for others.

I phrase it that way because I am absolutely certain that is the intent of the video. I am absolutely certain the intent is not to tell women they aren’t allowed to wear make-up if it makes them feel good, or that they only look good completely natural and uncaring.

I am sure of it. I am sure of the intent.

The actual effect though? I’m not quite so certain.

I like the message it’s trying to send – that intended meaning of just loving yourself for you and not trying so hard for others.

But both the song and the video say something very different to me. I’m not sure it’s good or bad. I actually don’t care too much one way or another, which is kinda weird considering how opinionated I usually am on stuff like this.

More than having Big Feminist Thoughts* one way or another, when I watch this I’m left feeling weirdly blank and confused, even a little guilty.

The Song Itself

The refrain is that nice, intended “don’t live for other people” kind of speech:

You don’t have to try so hard
You don’t have to, give it all away
You just have to get up, get up, get up, get up
You don’t have to change a single thing
You don’t have to try

It’s nice, but it’s also super unrealistic and a little insulting. I know, I know, that it doesn’t mean to be, but it just is. The idea that we don’t have to live for other people? It’s lovely to dream about, and perhaps some of us survive in that place, but humans depend on other humans. We just do. It’s so important to remember that we don’t have to give every moment to someone else, but we do need to give some of them away, or at least share them with others. Not in a let’s-all-be-friends way, and not in a happy-shiny-altruism way. Screw that. But in a we-need-other-people-for-basic-survival kind of way.

Typically, most people want to make compromises and sacrifices of self for the people they love. People on the street? People who judge us and hurt us? People we never meet or impact? People who tell us what to do without helping us in any way? No. We certainly don’t need to sacrifice even the tiniest part of ourselves for those people, and I appreciate the reminder of that.

But people we love and care about? People who have opinions we value and advice we respect? People whose lives are impacted by our choices? Yes. Most of us want to make changes for those people. Some of us want to make big extreme changes. Others of us (like me) want to keep those changes as small as possible. These changes might be for other people, but they aren’t evil.

What about people who we don’t care about, but exist in our circles, our cultures, our societies, and are impacted indirectly by our actions? Wearing make-up or getting dressed all sexy probably doesn’t matter so much, but we, we-the-humans, have to make small changes that go against who we’d ideally like to be in order to make money, feed our families, overall increase our happiness by taking little blows along the way.

I’m all for taking the time to consider whether the changes you’re making, the sacrifices you’re making, are really worth it to you or anyone else, and making better or more appropriate choices in that respect. But to ignore that we, as individuals that exist as part of a collective, often have to change for other people…that’s naive, and a little insulting to those of us who acknowledge making changes and look at you saying, “wait, you think you’re exempt?”

And then there’s this:

Wait a second,
Why, should you care, what they think of you
When you’re all alone, by yourself, do you like you?
Do you like you?

And these lines, I know what they are getting at. They are getting at the nice happy message of “It is more important that you like yourself than that other people like you,” and that is a great message!

But when I hear those lines my heart sinks.

Sometimes when I look in the mirror, I like me. I freaking love me. Sometimes the mirror shows me this super amazing human and it’s all I can do to stop from saying out loud “Holy crap I’m awesome.”

But other times when I look in the mirror, I hate me. I make myself sad, angry, guilty. For no particular reason. Not sad that I don’t live up to someone else’s expectations of beauty. Not angry that my face is lopsided and that therefore I will never be cool. Not guilty for having eaten too much that day and not being thin enough for the culture I live in.

I just…don’t like myself all that much sometimes.

That’s not wrong of me.

When I hear that I just have to be happy with the way I look, or am, or whatever, I know the message is supposed to imply the ending clause “as opposed to what other people want,” but that’s not what I hear. I hear that I’m always supposed to be happy with myself in a constant and generalized way or I’m doing something wrong.

Which is a really messed up attitude. A really self-defeating frame of mind. A no-win scenario.

Is it what the songwriter meant? No. Definitely not.

But that’s the message I get. And in my view of art (pop songs included), if your audience gets a message from your artwork that you didn’t intend to communicate, tough luck. Either own and appreciate the diversity of interpretation, or make better art next time.

I’m left so damn confused. Knowing rationally what the intent is, but feeling so strongly something so different. The two things are hard to reconcile for me.

And now the really fun part…

That Video Though!

This is where my confusion kicks into overdrive. Like wow.

The video is of the singer and several women of different ages and overall looks perfectly made up with perfectly styled hair, lip-syncing with the song, looking kinda sad. Then they all let their hair down and wipe off their make-up, and immediately looking much happier.

This…baffles me.

It also upsets me in a very minor way, I have to admit. There’s the implication that make-up and styled hair exists for Others. Sure, other people often like looking at women who wear make-up or have pretty hair, and that’s a perk. But I wear make-up for me, and I’ve heard so many women (and men) say the same thing. As soon as I put on foundation, I feel about ten times more confident. Add some mascara, sweep my hair back, and throw on a comfy but adorable top and BAM. I walk taller, I speak stronger, I’m just all around more awesome at being my own awesome self.

As a friend of mine says, “Would I wear make-up if I didn’t live in a patriarchal society? No, probably not. But I do. Make-up is a tool available to me to succeed in the patriarchal system I was born into. I’m not weak for making use of that tool.”

But this issue is not as upsetting in this context as other contexts (where people – select “feminists” – say make-up is evil) since I have no reason to believe that these women who opted to be in this video enjoy make-up or don’t love themselves a lot more when they go au naturale. That’s probably why they wanted to be in the video, right?

So while it’s not immensely upsetting, it is immensely confusing.

If these lovely women are more confident, stronger, generally happier with themselves when they don’t get all dolled up, great! Go them! If they find themselves to be more beautiful without the painted faces, that’s totally awesome and they shouldn’t need to make that specific change for anybody unless they deem that change appropriate and worthy.

But am I supposed to think they are more beautiful when they are not made up? Because…I don’t.

I feel guilty saying it, because every decent (read: non-troll) comment online seems to be about how much more gorgeous they are when bare-faced, but it’s completely true, and I can’t believe I’m the only one who thinks so.

These women were made up, styled, and photoshopped by experts in the field. Professionals who spend their lives making people stunning using artistry and tricks of the trade. Make-up artists, for example, are serious artists. They just happen to have an unconventional canvas.

So is it so shocking that I like looking at those professionally designed and sculpted faces more than the natural ones? I don’t really think so.

There’s the additional fact that as a rule, I tend to prefer made up faces because they offer consistency, and to someone who’s faceblind, that’s a huge help. Someone who applies the same make-up and styles their hair the same every day is going to be way more recognizable to me than someone who lets day-to-day variation in skin and eyes and hair go unadjusted. Does that make it anyone’s responsibility to wear make-up? Of course not. But that doesn’t make me a bad person for preferring when they do.

So I watch this and I’m confused. Am I a bad feminist/woman/person because I don’t prefer women with no make-up? What about because I don’t necessarily agree with their presumed assessment of their own beauty? If you say a part of you is beautiful, a way of your being is beautiful, a manner in which you look or act is beautiful, do I have to agree with you because you are the expert on you? Am I allowed to let you be the expert on you, let you dictate what is best for you, leave you alone to celebrate what you love about yourself, but quietly have a differing opinion?

Two stick figures and two boxes. The one holding a box says 'I like it.' The one with a box near her on the ground says 'I don't like it.' Both are smiling. 'The end' is written and underlined in the middle.

It’s ok when this is the whole story.

 

A Final Note

If these women are more attractive in the post-make-up-removal section, it probably has a lot to do with the fact that they are smiling and happy and loving life apparently, where they were sad and miserable before.

Loving life is beautiful, but it is completely independent of whether you are or are not wearing make-up.

So let’s not draw any unfounded correlation here, and certainly not causation.

-|-

*interrupting my writing flow for a sec to say, OMG have you seen this tumblr with young women denouncing feminism? That is so messed up and just, well, weird. That’s not how that works. Maybe, I guess, you don’t need feminism, but you don’t get to assert that until you’ve lived without it. And these women, while they might not be feminist activists, sure as hell benefit daily from feminists today and feminists of the last two hundred years (or more). You can renounce the way feminists are behaving if you feel it isn’t appropriate or functional, sure, I’m all about that, go for it. But don’t renounce feminism. You will regret that. I promise. 

Image reads - Amy Poehler on women who renounce feminism, 'That's like someone being like 'I don't really believe in cars, but I drive one every day and I love that it gets me places and makes life so much easier and faster and I don't know what I would do without it.''

Amy Poelher keeps it real. Thanks Amy.

Quick Fitspo Follow-Up

In my post about being fed-up with the fitspo fad a couple weeks ago, a got a few responses from people (in comments and on other social media sites) saying they weren’t familiar with the fitspo trend.

First off, that these readers aren’t familiar with fitspo makes me really happy. It’s a huge relief to know this isn’t as pervasive a phenomenon as I had come to believe. It’s made me think a lot about my age group, my gender, my nationality…generally about peer groups that I don’t really get to choose. I don’t have any Big Thoughts on that or anything, but I’m glad for the opportunity to think about it.

I do, however, want to share a relevant example of the little ways fitspiration irritates me by disrupting my life in very minor ways.

I recently (re)joined Pinterest. I love the idea of the site, and signed up right away when I heard about it a few years ago. But when it became clear that people didn’t use it as a place to keep track of awesome stuff online (like a virtual corkboard, what I had imagined it to be) but instead it was just a giant spam-a-thon of junk that people imagined their life could be if they just pinned it enough times…I got rid of my account.

I rejoined it to keep track of graphic design, logo design, and typography inspiration. Also it makes me exhausted to go against the grain, and the grain seems to be having an active Pinterest account.

Anyway!

Pinterest, like so many other sites, lets you sign on with Facebook or Twitter or whatever, and “finds your friends” via emails or social networks or…whatever.

This seems like a nifty feature. Yay! Except…it’s not something I can use. Why? Because too many acquaintances that I for some reason or another (the reasons vary, but they are all legitimate) need to have in my social network are dedicated fitspo fangirls, and it would be too triggering – or at minimum just too big a pain in the ass – to let Pinterest follow my friends, and then go through and unfollow all the fitspo stuff.

So yeah. Not a big deal. But mildly irritating. A fair example of how even when I know how to avoid it, and it’s not ruining my life or anything, I’m still constantly reminded of it.

But it did give me an idea!

To anyone who really doesn’t know what I’m talking about when I say “fitspo” or “fitspiration”…

To anyone who hasn’t seen the size zero models with DD-cups and somehow nothing worth photographing above the neck…

To anyone who isn’t familiar with the ridiculously unhealthy workout/diet regimens that get put into snappy language in a pretty box and shared all over the web…

To anyone who is curious about what “fitspo” is but is also very sure that they won’t find it triggering (or else is very sure they can stay safe if they are triggered)…

Go to Pinterest, and search for “fitspo” or click this link here because I’ve gone ahead and done it for you.

And then go eat a cheeseburger. Or a cheesecake. Or a block of night-cheese. Apparently I’m in a cheese mood.

 

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