Finding Kyle and My influences

I have discovered another contemporary artist that I am just in love with. I am slightly embarrassed to say that it was while I was watching decorating shows on hulu at midnight. The show “Good Bones” reminds me so much of my mother and I as a team. Now, my mother and I did theatrical productions, not renovate houses, but it’s the same kind of energy.

Anyway, Kyle Ragsdale made an appearance when the mother-daughter duo were looking for some original art and came to visit his studio, and uh- I reversed the video THREE TIMES trying to catch not only his full name, but all the art in his studio. I wanted to see IT ALL.

But all they said was “Kyle” and I was like, do I just plug into Google “Kyle + Beautiful Art + Indianapolis”? But apparently, yeah, that was all I had to do, because I found him.

Folks. I am loving his work. But I also really enjoyed this moment on his website, where he listed his influences. This long list, with no explanation. And, sure, he listed artists like Gustav Klimt, Gary Hume, and Fiona Raye- but then he also added, golf, Scrabble, The Royal Tennenbaums, and Bjork. I LOVE that. Especially as an autistic person, who often relates and communicates to the rest of the world through references from movies and popular culture. (Think Abed from Community.)

So, I wanted to introduce you to Kyle, yes, but I also wanted to make a similar influences list, with no explanation either. Influences to my art, my writing, my life in general. So take it as you will… again, no particular order, other than my ADHD inattentive brain.

My Influences

  • Harry Potter
  • Battlestar Galactica
  • Texture
  • John Singer Sargent
  • Tricia French
  • Lizzo
  • Zooey Deschanel
  • 1960’s pop art and fashion
  • Audrey Hepburn
  • Paul McCartney
  • Georgia O’Keefe
  • Edward Hopper
  • Gustav Klimt
  • Pattern
  • Hannah Gadsby
  • Radiolab
  • Ira Glass
  • Justice/Responsibility
  • David Bowie
  • Penelope
  • Lady Gaga
  • Neurodiversity
  • Westerns
  • Star Trek
  • Puns
  • Compassion
  • Zombie/apocalyptic novels
  • Disney films
  • Carl Jung
  • Ironic covers of popular songs
  • Mary Blair
  • Margaret Atwood
  • My family
  • Ted Kooser
  • Mary Oliver
  • William Carlos Willams
  • Dolly Parton
  • Christopher Moore
  • Marvel Comics
  • Adam Driver
  • Sandy Powell
  • Emily McDowell
  • Dylan Thomas
  • Nolan Brothers
  • Franz Marc
  • Andrew Wyeth
  • Wassily Kandinsky
  • Jess Franks
  • Michael Carson
  • Anna Bond
  • Typography
  • Hurst Castle
  • Queer Eye
  • Inclusivity
  • Laughter
  • Warmth

And maybe… you? The people that I want to help. Always. You probably influence me the most.

The Resident… Is Hot

To be fair I have been a fan of Matt Czuchry since his “Gilmore Girl” days when he played Logan Huntzberger.

So now that I can’t do anything that I had planned to do today (like I told Instagram, I’m having some bad allergies today. Which for some might just mean watery eyes, for me it means the skin around my joints gets horrible hives and my hands become very swollen and angry. I can only type right now because I took a double dose of Benedryl.)

Anyway, I’ve been in love with Matt Czurchy for more than a decade. First it was “Gilmore Girls,” then it was “The Good Wife,” and now “The Resident.”

I’ve been binge watching “The Resident” all day, and I have come to several conclusions. One, Matt Czuchry really understands the female gaze. He’s warm and confident. He’s got that “I’m here now and everything will be ok” look down pat.

Second, romance and sexuality are such interesting bedfellows. Technically, I would put my sexuality as Pansexual (I’ve been known to call it bisexual as well, but I get tired of the negativity around being bisexual. Probably why I often resort to the umbrella term “queer.”) I am also heteromantic. Which means that I am sexually attracted to all genders but I’m romantically attracted to the opposite gender. And for a lot of people in the LGBT community, this makes me an inauthentic queer. To that, I’d say the dogeared nude of Marilyn Monroe from my teen years strongly disagrees. That, and my internet history, but we won’t go into that right now. (Maybe later.)

I have considered myself heteromantic for a long time because all my favorite fictional love interests have been men, I also married a man, obviously. BUT I’ve been starting to question that… (the heteromantic part, not my husband. I love him more than anything.) I doubt the heteromantic part mostly because of the lack of strong female love stories out there. When there is a lesbian love story, it is often coupled with the pain of being an outcast or having to hide that love. Kind of puts a damper on happily ever after, don’t you think? And I could never really get into “the L Word” because there was so little loyalty on the show. I do not like betrayal. And “The L Word” was full of betrayal.

But this isn’t about that. It’s about “The Resident”. I totally suggest you start watching it. Not only does it have the wonderful Matt Czuchry, it also has great diversity. And when I say great diversity I mean that it’s not just tokenism diversity, there are legitimately well rounded characters from all backgrounds. Yes I know, the main character is blonde and blue eyed (and dreamy) but it still warms my heart to see more than just that demographic filled out.

And then one last thing that I think is so interesting. They have this unique first person kind of shooting style, where you are temporarily in the point of view of the patient. It’s very interesting, especially if you dig ASMR. And speaking of ASMR, they are also extremely attuned to the senses in their sound design as well. At one point, there was a scene where they were telling the family that a patient had died and all sound dropped out except the familiar tone of flatlined heart monitor. It was super effective and very well done. And surprisingly subtle?

Anyway, I’m watching it on Hulu, now. You should too.

I Promised

I promised a pic of my painting, this is a work in progress. I decided on a subtle tribute to Hannah Gadsby’s Nannette. Like I told instagram, it’s pretty ironic that this is what I chose to paint considering that I don’t like sunflowers decoratively. Love the seeds for a snack, but that’s about it.

No, this was about her talk on Vincent Van Gogh, and one of my favorite lines to ever grace the stage. “Do you know why we have the sunflowers? It’s not because Vincent Van Gogh suffered. It’s because Vincent had a brother who loved him.”

So eventually… when I finish this painting, it will be called “Because he had a Brother who Loved him”

If you haven’t seen Nanette, it’s on Netflix. Watch it now.

New Girl as an Autistic Cipher For Women

Okay, I don’t want to perpetuate the idea that autism just makes you quirky or “adorkable.” That’s not at all what I am saying. This is about me. So, take that disclaimer with everything that I am saying…

New Girl, the Zooey Deschanel show on Fox that came out almost ten years ago, is one of my favorite shows. When I started binge watching it by the third season, I kept yelling at my television, “WHY ARE YOU WATCHING ME?! AM I BEING PUNKED?” That is because I AM Jessica Day. I know, I know. Every girl thinks they are the hero of their favorite TV show, but no- I AM Jessica Day.

(I have to have another disclaimer here. My sister is way cooler than me. She told me to watch it like two Thanksgivings before I started when she told me she named her parakeet “Schmidt.” And I was like, “the beer?”)

For those of you that were like me, so obviously uncool. Schmidt is one of the characters on the show. There is also Winston, Coach, and Nick Miller. Interestingly, I am also Nick Miller. More on that later.

If you need some evidence on my Jessica Day-ness, here is a picture of me BEFORE the show ever started…

Okay, I know bangs aren’t Zooey Deschanel specific-
but I rocked those bangs PRE-New Girl folks. I also rocked a lot of polka dots.

There are a lot of things that I have in common with the character of Jessica Day (and yes, I know, she’s fictional.) BUT despite the probably seventy pound weight difference, we both love a skater dress (cute little vintage numbers that are modeled after figure skaters.) We both ADORE patterns and bright colors. LOVE, love, LOVE cardigans. Colored tights and flats, yes! Shorts with tights, yes please! We love crafts and teaching children. WE’RE both super awkward. WE hate conflict. And just want everyone to be happy. (I might have projected the last one.)

It made me an INSTANT fan. And of course, that might be the universal appeal that New Girl has- she’s the cute and awkward “IT girl.” But there’s more to it.

Now that I’m post diagnosis, I wonder if Jessica Day had just enough of the autistic traits that I had to make me feel that blue streak of recognition.

Still not convinced?

She has obsessive interests, like books, and crafts, and knitting. She often doesn’t understand social cues. She has terrible balance (She falls down from just standing there. That’s me and my proprioception, all the way.) She’s inappropriately empathetic and compassionate (She breaks for birds.) She over prepares for social situations. It’s easier for her to be friends with the opposite sex. And finally, she uses escape tactics to get away from uncomfortable situations (that Christmas episode where she runs into a large glass window, and says she feels like a bird. I’ve done, literally, that.)

I’m not totally sure that she’s on the spectrum. (Because, obviously, she’s fictional!) But she really resonated with me, mostly because of the LACK of autistic girl representation. And if they are female characters, they often present in a more typical male representation of Autism, like Bennet on Dollhouse, or Elise on The Tunnel, or even Dr. Brennan, Zooey’s sister, on Bones. All male presentations of autism, dressed in a skirt. Metaphorical skirt, that is.

Don’t take my word on it, just check out this 2013 blog post written about three fictional characters that the author deemed likely to be on the spectrum. Almost proving my point, they denied Jess, and went with two men, and a cartoon. And even went back on their own idea, saying that cartoon Tina was too “normal.” Still showing the weird gender bias in diagnosing women autistics. I should give the blogger credit in that Abed Nadir from community is the best portrayal of Autism I have ever seen. So yeah, good point there.

Speaking of, I’m super excited that there is NOW a show on Freeform with a teenage autistic girl living with her gay brother. It’s like my worlds combined! It’s called “Everything’s Gonna be OK” and I haven’t watched it yet because I want to binge it when the season is over. (My ADHD won’t let me watch episodes one at a time.) BUT-BUT- there is actual autistic collaboration in the writers, and the actress herself is on the spectrum! BADASS REPRESENTATION! She’s still a child, but YEAH! STILL! GETTING BETTER!

Anyway, back to New Girl-

I’m also honestly, a little bit Nick Miller. And this does actually have to do with the autistic thing. Again, I am not diagnosing a fictional character. But I had SO MUCH in common with him as well. As the obvious love of Jessica Day, he has some similar neurodiverse traits, perhaps a little more ADHD but he has- intensive interests that change quickly, misunderstandings about interpersonal relationships (you gave me cookie, I got you cookie), immature (you don’t wash the towel, the towel washes you), anger issues, and problems following through (law school, the zombie novel. I also have an unfinished zombie novel and I’m a college drop out.) Oh! And seriously into masking (the thing with Russel where he literally starts mirroring everything that he says. That is a thing, people!)

Now all these traits were exaggerated for comedy purposes, of course. And I haven’t seen any of them really stim, or have intense sensory issues that require accomodation, but still it was interesting. And with Nick, they always portray these traits as just being “manly”, but that is how you end up with the idea that only men are autistic, and boys more commonly have ADHD.

I don’t know. It just blew my mind.

Perhaps it’s that thing when you are so starved for representation that you start adopting characters into your tribe just because you have some need to. Or maybe it’s because pink wine does make me slutty.

Either way, I still rock a good polka dot.


Just to be helpful. If it’s not clear, I wrote this while having a mini manic episode. So if it sounds a little nutty, I am a little nutty. Nothing to worry about, it was from that time where I forgot my Adderall for one day and the resulting imbalance can result in some bipolar mania. All good. And I stand by what I said. Especially about the polka dots. So binge-watch New Girl on Netflix, and welcome to my manic neurodiverse theories.

Also, for a REAL cipher on autistic women, read this article on how Women with autism Hide Complex Problems with Masking. Yes, they use person first language but they also admit right away that it’s just a style choice. It’s still a great article, with great information.

HAPPINESS INVENTORY

Some of the therapies or tricks involved with mitigating the shortcomings of being autistic often involve a form of happiness distraction. It’s hard to regulate your emotions when you are Autistic or have ADHD, let alone have ADHD while being Autistic, so this is something very important to me.

In fact, today, it’s really important. I’m having a rather raw day. Between the death of my grandmother, and general mental health issues, I just… can’t.

In that vain, I like to take an inventory of the things that make me happy. This isn’t just for fun. It’s a cache that I keep tucked away in the back of my mind for emergencies. When you are stuck in an emotionally volatile state, you can’t suddenly think, “What would I be doing if I were happy?” No, you need to pull that happiness out of your mind like a switchblade you keep in your boot. Ready to be used at all times. This is basic self defense.

That being said, I would like to give you an example of my Happiness Inventory. So that you can make your own- or get that switchblade, whatever works for you.

An important note before you start. It’s true that things like “hanging out with friends” or “making out with my husband” might definitely make me happy, but they depend on another person. For quick happiness distraction, I like to focus on things that I can do at a moment’s notice.

Holly’s Happiness Inventory

In no particular order:

  • Watching ASMR videos on YouTube.
  • Binge watching “The New Girl”
  • Shopping for skater dresses and skirts. Oh! And cardigans. Shoes made for big girls as well. Those are hard to find.
  • Wearing colorful tights- that fit! Fit is very important for plus size girls like me, not to mention autistic big girls like me, who have sensory issues with clothing.
  • Watching great plus size fashion vloggers, like Sarah Rae Vargas, I love her!
  • Taking a nap.
  • Making jewelry. I haven’t done this as much since the birth of my son. He tries to eat my supplies, and pull my earrings out of my ears. (I actually haven’t worn dangle earrings in four years, one of my holes has actually healed over. One of these days I will have them re-pierced but due to slightly hilarious childhood trauma, I have yet to even consider how I will do that.)
  • Organizing. Not cleaning! Organizing. Big difference. I like having things clean but do not enjoy the actual maintenance of cleaning. (If you do, nourish that love. It’s something special.)
  • Shopping for original art online. Check out Society 6 or my favorite contemporary artist, Jess Franks.
  • Making and eating the dish I stole from my favorite local Mexican restaurant. It’s so good, with chorizo, bacon, onions and pineapple! SO, so good.
  • Making homemade aiolis and mayonnaise. Yuuum.
  • Pinterest binges WHILE netflix bingeing.
  • Listening to amazing podcasts like Getting Curious, Radiolab, Nancy, and This American Life.
  • WATCHING “QUEER EYE”! That was in all caps because I love it THAT MUCH. All five of those men are my role models. Helping people while being entertaining, I can’t imagine a better way to live.
  • Painting. Sometimes I can get caught up in the perfectionism of painting, but it is something that I have always loved. Still life is the most relaxing painting. Portrait, the most stressful. (Bob Ross is also the OG of ASMR.)
  • Planning or studying. I like to study examples of the projects I am working on and taking notes. SO, since I have ambitions to create my own Vlog, I research great vlogs or YouTube channels, and take notes. If I am writing a show that I want to have a little bit of “Chorus Line” flair, I will watch the musical online, and take notes. Take notes, people. This doesn’t just make me happy, it’s good advice.
  • Playing with make up. Because of how I grew up, my make up skills really only came to pass because of the theatre. So now that I want to do it more for myself, I like to play with it on my own. Practice makes perfect, but it also makes for some giggle inducing mistakes.
  • HGTV! I don’t have cable anymore, but I will still pick up my favorite decorating shows on my streaming platforms. “Dear Genevieve” was an all time favorite, love Erin and Ben from “Hometown”. Could do that ALL DAY.
  • Doing DIY projects, like making light fixtures or painting furniture.
  • Watching my hero Hannah Gadsby, do literally anything.
  • Going through family photos, especially of the little prince.
  • Oh! And my new and undying love… Instagram. I’m all about the gram!

That’s it!

Of course a Happiness Inventory will change with the literal weather, like “look at fall leaves” or “safely sunbathe” or “go skinnydipping!” I don’t know your life.

The point is, to survive the lows, sometimes you have to force a high. Or at the very least cognitively try to distract yourself with happiness. You never know when you’ll stop trying and just be happy!

Float sinks for me

A different perspective for Inspirational Autism Stories ON “AUTISM AWARENESS WEEK”

Just like millions of other people, my family has the Disney+ streaming service. We use it multiple times a day. We find Nemo, we find Dory, we visit Mickey’s clubhouse an exhaustible amount, and don’t even get me started on the amount of times we are in Riley’s head. But there is one video that I really can’t get behind, no matter how much I want to…

It’s Float.

Float is a father, son story about a little boy who, for whatever reason can float. Not to give the story away, but basically it’s about the dad’s response to his son’s floating. And I’m gonna be harsh here, but he does a real shit job of it for the majority of the short film. He keeps his son locked inside at all times, when he does go outside he puts rocks in his bags to keep him down, and then, at the climax of the film, he screams at his son, “Why can’t you just be normal?!”

“Uh… What.. the… fuck?”

That’s a direct quote from me after watching this movie by the way. “What the fuck?”

Having heard about how inspirational this short film was, I clicked on it one night with my husband and son. And as soon as the credits rolled, I turned to my husband and we both just looked horrified. Not only did we never have any reactions to our son like that, there wasn’t a world where we would ever be tempted to treat him in such a way. This isn’t me being righteously indignant, it’s just the truth.

Now let me back up a bit, and tell you why a lot of people would find that particular film inspirational, and let me first start with this: The Dad in this little story was not a bad guy, not at all. In fact, he’s a real guy. The man who wrote and produced the short film, Bobby Rubio, was taking from his own experience to create what he hoped would be a film about acceptance. AND yes, I think ultimately on some level it is. But mostly I think this still falls into the limiting “awareness” category.

What’s the difference you might ask? “Autism Awareness” is often about alerting neurotypicals to the differences that autistic people experience. Sure, on the surface, that’s good. But it is also much more about pathology, mostly focused on a cure, or a “fix.” Or even worse than that, it’s meant to make you pity autistic people’s parents. Not autistic people, but the families that are “burdened” by autistic children. “Autism Awareness” is about tolerance. And to be tolerated, you must first be an object of irritation, anger, or worse, even hatred. How does that sound to you? Does that feel good? Do you want to be merely tolerated?

Acceptance is a very different thing. And to be fair to “Float,” in the end the father character is very accepting of his son’s ability. Playing happily with him in the park and not giving a single fuck about who gawks. That is acceptance. “Autism Acceptance” is giving autistic people the respect to know their own minds. Acceptance is allowing autistic people to change, despite the limitations that they may deal with in a society that is built around neurotypicals. Acceptance is about pride and celebration.

And perhaps it is because both my husband and I are neurodiverse that we never even thought to treat our son that way. We have never ever been normal. So the heartache we have in the little prince’s more autistic behavior, is only because he will have to live in a world that does not accept autism. We’ve never wanted him to be normal. We’ve only wanted things to be easier for him. (But who’s life is easy anyway, right?)

Sometimes I know that I really need to give neurotypical parents a break, and I honestly do strive to do so. I understand that parents go through a grieving process when they are told that their children are different. But still, no one has died. Only your perception and assumptions about your child have perished. I think all parents should have such a death. The sooner they stop assuming that their child is exactly like them, the better. They are their own people, different or not.

And again, “Float” definitely gets a lot of things right. Like the general disarray that the house is in? Oh man, is that true. The crayon marks on the ceiling? I think we have those and our kid is gravity bound. The way that people will respond to unexpected behavior in the park. Right on target. Fear, anger, and escape.

But that’s human nature isn’t it? Difference is often associated with danger. And until we stop that association we are always going to get those looks from “normal” families and strangers. Until we accept autistic people as another kind of person, and not a problem for parents, we are all going to sink.

Our family on a walk. No one stared by the way.
Even though I put them in matching outfits.

Hannah explains autism

This is one of the best explanations of my personality I have ever seen. Again, if you are a neurolurker, especially a woman neurolurker, or if you want a primer for who I am- take Hannah Gadsby, add a dress and change the accent. She makes such a wonderful shortcut for people like us. The next time someone tries to ask me, “Who is Holly on the inside?” I am just gonna point to Hannah.


Watch this now…

No seriously, I can’t say this enough. Watch this now.

This TED talk from Hannah Gadsby last year would have transformed my life had I seen it sooner. If you are a woman, a neruolurker, or even a person who has experienced trauma- watch this. If you are a comic, a writer, or a person who has interest in either- watch this. If you are a human being- watch this.

Hannah Gadsby is a true lifesaver. She is a hero in every aspect of the word and I am so proud to be a fan of hers.

So without further ado… Hannah Gadsby.


Pride in Nanette

It’s June 30th. Literally, the last day of Pride month. And I’ve skirted around my own celebration. I haven’t posted anything, here or on any other social media platform. I haven’t raised any flags, and I don’t own a thing in rainbow.  And while I’ve always been loud in my support of the LGBT community,  I have never really been loud about myself and my place in that community. Mostly because, I have so easily been able to pass these last 20 years or so.

But I am a B. I always knew I was a B. There was a really frightening time in high school where I was scared that I was really only an L, pretending to be a B out of fear. (I’m a B, though. A big B, if I’m honest.)

Continue reading “Pride in Nanette”

A Little Kindness

So, I’m home on the weekend from my theatre gig. It’s father’s day and because I understand my husband we aren’t really doing anything except some serious fast food abandon (lots of Popeye’s red bean and rice, the big tub not just the little one.) And while we are eating John mentions that he’s going to have some of our friends over to play board games while I’m gone next week…and my stomach drops.

Continue reading “A Little Kindness”