Miles Vorkosigan Is my Role Model (or How I Horrified Lois McMaster Bujold)

I’ve always felt a strong connection with Miles Vorkosigan. As an undiagnosed autistic teen growing up in an abusive household, I quickly learned that the key to survival was simple: stubborn your way through.

I’m nowhere near on Miles’ level when it comes to being a sheer, unstoppable juggernaut. But Miles was one of the people who showed me that it could be done. That no matter what your obstacles, if you are stubborn enough (and creative enough, and maybe just crazy enough) you can still beat everything in your way.

A few years ago, I learned that Michael had nearly died several times over the past year and we hadn’t known. That he was likely to die in the next few years if we couldn’t get him medical treatment. Treatment that we had no way to get because we were broke and living off money my aunt sent from Israel to keep a roof over our heads.

It broke me. Utterly, completely broke me. I remember going out for a walk and not being able to see where I was going for the tears in my eyes.

There was a little park with a circular garden in the middle. I remember walking around it several times just trying to come to grips.

And a line from Memory floated into my head.

“I am the man who owns Vorkosigan Vashnoi.”

And another,

“A mountain man, dumb as his rocks, doesn’t know when to quit.”

I took a breath. Walked back to the hotel we were staying in. I opened up Memory and re-read Miles Vorkosigan’s revelation about himself.

I wrapped myself in my own elemental stubbornness and knew we would find a way.

A little later, I got on Goodreads and for the first time ever sent a message to an author that I like. I thanked Lois Bujold for Miles, explained that he was something of a role model for me and that her writing was helping me through one of the worst times in my life.

She was awesome enough to write back. I think I scared her a bit. The idea that someone could take her “hyperactive little git” as a role model was… well, not something she was prepared for, apparently. She said she was glad that her writing had helped, but expressed… concern at the idea of someone modeling themself off of Miles.

It’s nearly 5 years later. My partner, while not health, is nowhere near in danger of dying anytime soon. Miles Vorkosigan is still one of my favorite characters.

And somedays, I remember Bujold’s supportive, but appalled, reply, and I just have to laugh.

Don’t worry Simon, I have a rheostat installed. And thanks to Miles, I’ve learned how to dial it UP when I need to.


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Special Interests: Autistic Acceptance Month Day 5

Personal opinion: There is no difference between autistic special interests and allistic special interests. Autistic folks just one-track more so we get deeper into our special interests than the rest of you distractable folks 😉

Anyway, some of my special interests:

Polyamory (If you know me, this one is obvious.)

Polyamory on Purpose

Autism (New-ish, in the last year)

A rainbow infinity sign, popular symbol for autism among autistic people.

Languages (Including linguistics and conlangs)

A word cloud made of "why" in several dozen languages.
by Maierstrahl

People (Psychology, Sociology, Archeology, Anthropology)

(Yeah, I couldn’t find an image I liked)

Reactions to Coming Out: Autistic Acceptance Month day 4

What sticks in my head the most are the number of people who responded to my saying “I am autistic” with “Oh, I knew that.”

Apparently I’ve been surrounding myself with people who are either autistic or have autistic family members without realizing it. And several of them saw the signs and symptoms in me and all, independently, just decided not to say anything.

For the most part, this is perfectly understandable. You don’t randomly walk up to the new member in your synagogue and say, “By the way, are you autistic?”

I’m still a bit miffed at my sister.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my sister, and I understand why she didn’t say anything. My biological family really got into the whole “don’t label people thing.” The problem is that labels aren’t always bad things.

When labels become boxes, that’s bad. But sometimes labels are road maps. Guidebooks.

They show you how to find the information you’ve needed but never knew how to find or even if it existed.

My sister, when I told her I’m autistic, said she realized that almost as soon as she met me. And I nearly screamed at her for the decade of trouble I might have avoided if someone had handled me that road maps just a little bit sooner.

I didn’t. Instead we talked about labels, and how sometimes they are good things. And she admitted that our brother, diagnosed as a child with Asperger’s feels the same way I do.

I admit, I’m a bit more amused than miffed at this point. And a bit envious. She seemed to assume it was obvious to me that I wasn’t neurotypical, so there was no point in saying anything. And she was sort of right. I always knew I wasn’t like the people around me, that something was different about me. For her, the important thing was being supportive and accepting of my differences and treating me like an individual. Because that is what the family she grew up in DID.

It would never occur to her that being different would seem like being broken, being wrong. To her, it was just being different. And god I envy her that.

But still, 10 bloody years, sis. I love you, I thank you for your support, the next time I see you in person I may just strangle you a little, and thinking of you and this right now, I can’t stop smiling.

This post is part of the 30 Days of Autistic Acceptance and Appreciation posting challenge.

Please help spread the word about Autistic Acceptance.

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My Autism Discovery Story: Autistic Acceptance Month Day 3

I remember the special ed classes. I don’t remember why I was in them or what I was being taught. But I remember being pulled from my regular class every day to go to a dark little room and the confusion about why I had to do this when almost no one else did.

I remember being a safety at school, so sixth grade, “monitoring” the empty hallway, and taking a moment when no one was around to spin and spin and spin for the sheer joy of it.

I remember my parents gripping my chin telling me to LOOK THEM IN THE EYE when I talk to them.

I remember walking up to some classmates who were talking and trying to join the conversation, only to get shot down because I violated some unwritten, unspoken rule of socializing.

I remembering family holidays surrounded by aunts, uncles, cousin’s grandparents, where I’d sneak off to someone’s bedroom and borrow a  book from their book shelves and just relax away from the noise happy that my family THERE but not needing to be engaged with them to be comforted by their presence.

I remember the lectures on the way home about how rude I was, how inconsiderate, how people wanted to see me and talk with me and how could they do that if I never took my nose out of a book?

I remember sitting down at our old IIGS apple computer, with my newest book, a catalog of different types of cetaceans, creating a database of all their stats and info. Even then I knew there was something weird–something wrong–that I was more interested in putting that information into a database than reading the detailed descriptions and history of how they were discovered.

I remember twitching my fingers, back and forth, back and forth, and the doctor who medicated me for OCD.

I remember the teacher who realized that I really was trying and instead of berating me for not doing more, sat down with my parents to talk about ADHD.

I remember the doctor who said that everyone is a little ADHD.

I remember the cousins who accepted my eccentricities and the aunts and uncles who said “that’s just the way she is.”

I remember sitting in a psych office, an adult with children of my own, desperately trying to explain to my adoptive parents WHY I can’t “just do” everything that comes so easily for them, from cleaning, to waking up in morning.

I remember opening an article on aspergers, because my nesting partner said he had aspergers, and the more I read the less I’m thinking of my partner and the more I’m thinking “This is me, this is me, this is ME!”

I remember standing in a parking lot with my adoptive mother as she tells me that someone, somewhere, advised her to get me evaluated for autism, but she didn’t.

I remember telling my caseworker, and my other caseworker, and my counselor that I thought I might have autism, and their support.

I remember calling my bio father to ask if autism sometimes made it so you couldn’t speak, because I was going aphasic more and more often and didn’t know what was causing it.

I remember the burnout that took 3 months to recover from. Months where I couldn’t talk more often then not. Months where I slept on the couch because the noise of the fan in the bedroom was sensory overload and showered in the dark (when I showered at all) because the lights are tied to the fan in the bathroom and the shower was sensory overload enough with the fan added to it. Months that convinced me that yes, I am autistic because nothing else explained the burnout and the sensory hell and the constant aphasia and rocking and repetition and, and and…

I remember finding the autistic community and #ActuallyAutistic and two straight weeks of “Wait a minute, all this time I’ve been dealing with that and that’s been autism?” “You mean that’s autism, everyone doesn’t do that?” “If I’d know this was part of autism I’d have realized I was autistic a heck of a lot sooner!”

I remember Rosh haShana in the middle of the burnout, when someone asked how Moses could not talk and then talk, and saying “I’m autistic, sometimes people’s ability to talk changes. I’ll probably be unable to talk by the time I leave here. Then later I’ll be able to talk.”

I remember a little while later trying to say something in the discussion and my stuttering, stumbling barely coherent words.

I remember during a break in the service a synagogue member coming up and saying he knew I was autistic the first time he saw me because of the rocking and inviting me to an autism support group 2 hours away.

I remember telling my bio sister that I realized I’m autistic and nearly screaming when she replies me, “Oh, is this a surprise? I knew it when I met you.”

I remember telling my doctor about how I have trouble with creams and gels because I have sensory issues.

I remember my doctor asking if I am autistic.

I remember asking my doctor for a referral to a shrink so I can get an autism diagnosis.

This was two months ago.

I don’t remember the appoint with the shrink. It hasn’t happened yet.

This post is part of the 30 Days of Autistic Acceptance and Appreciation posting challenge.

Please help spread the word about Autistic Acceptance.

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What I Love about Autism Is….: Autistic Acceptance Month Day 2

This one is a hard one for me, but not for the reasons you’d expect.

I just don’t know enough. I mean, there are things about who I am and the way I am that are clearly the result of autism. And then there is stuff that clearly ISN’T the result of autism. And then there is the majority of stuff that I can’t clearly say whether it is related to autism or NOT.

And then there’s the stuff other people tell me is because of autism but I don’t see it.

Like, my cousin’s talking about football and the NFL draft pick for an hour is normal and not autism, but me talking about linguistics and how words are made and languages evolve for an hour is a “symptom” of autism. Why? Because their passions are common and mine are unusual? I don’t get it…

So… there are things about myself I love.

I love my passions. I love my ability to focus down and lose myself in a project. I love how precise and “nitpicky” I can be. I love how schedules and routines are comforting and empowering and motivating all at the same time.

Are these autistic things? Are they related-to-autism-but-not-directly-caused-by-it things? Are these unrelated-to-autism things?

I mean, given how neurotypicals go on about them and how “weird” they are, I guess they must be related to autism some how. Just don’t ask me how.

This post is part of the 30 Days of Autistic Acceptance and Appreciation posting challenge.

Please help spread the word about Autistic Acceptance.

Did you learn something? Please support my work.

Intro Post: Autistic Acceptance Month

This month I’m going to try for 30 Days of Acceptance and Appreciation.

If I can pull it off, you’ll get a post a day about autism and autistic acceptance.

Like with my Polyamory on Purpose blog series, as I put up each post it will get a link here, so at the end of the month you’ll be able to come here and get a link to all the Autistic Acceptance posts.

Day 2: What I love about being autistic

Day 3: My discovery story

Day 4: Reactions to coming out

I also have a blog post here where other autistic folk and allies can put links to their autistic acceptance posts throughout the month.

Please help spread the word about Autistic Acceptance.

On Nalbinding, Net Making, and Novels

Back in January, I shared some stuff on Mastodon about yarn crafting and my Building Family wip.

The short version is that for REASONS, I needed to figure out if nalbinding (a precursor to knitting, for my non-crafty friends) could have been invented off of net making.

Since research failed me, I decided to do an experiment.

First, Net Making

I pulled up some net making videos on YouTube, and tried following them. BUT I didn’t use a spacer. In net making, a spacer is used to determine how wide the holes in the net are. Without a spacer, the knots would be right next to each other.

This is the first video I looked at:

But when I ended up trying my experiment last week, I used this video:

I went with the crab making video because it used fingers for the spacer initially (I really like his net making gizmo he pulls out halfway through though!) and because it is worked in the round. Those two similarities to nalbinding just made it easier for my brain to grok.

Then, Experimenting

I initially tried to copy it using just my thumb for a spacer, instead of multiple fingers (as shown in the video). Instead of the metal ring, I started with a magic-ring type yarn loop from crochet as the center of my work.

There were definitely parts that felt very similar to nalbinding, places I needed to pinch the yarn to keep it in place or run the needle until a loop that was around my thumb. But the result was essentially a very tiny net, not fabric.

(I wish I thought to take a picture of it.)

Now, I’m pretty sure, if I had the spoons/matches, a good knot dictionary, and time, I could put the net making video (which essentially uses repeated half-hitches) next to a good nalbinding tutorial (the oslo stitch starts with paired half hitches), and figure out a way one could have evolved into the other.

I didn’t have the matches, and for my purposes I didn’t specifically need to make nalbinding. I just needed to use net making to create fabric.

Finally, Results

So I took the simple solution and just stopped using any spacer at all. This is the result:

nalbinding netmaking

The holes where initially the result of my keeping the stitches loose so I could recognize where I needed to put the needle. As I got more comfortable the holes got smaller, as you may be able to see. Unfortunately, the needle I have (as you can see in that picture) is very wide at the eye, and there are several places where the eye forced those holes wider than they would otherwise have been.

In any case, the end result looks a lot like a miniature granny square from crochet.


At this point, I have what I need. I can see how someone could do the same thing I did and not have holes or gaps. So someone starting with net making could end up with a fabric that would have different properties, and therefore different appeal, from weaving.

I am curious how far I could take this. Could I really figure out how to get to nalbinding from net making? Could I develop a new and different type of yarncraft? Where could this go?

Unfortunately, I don’t have matches or time for that kind of experimentation. I’ll go back to working on my crochet and learning new-to-me nalbinding stitches that other people already figured out how to do. And the characters in my next novel will invent a new kind of yarncrafting for their world.

But if any of my yarncrafting friends decides to pick this up where I left off… let me know what happens, ‘kay?

Learn more about my original world (and other projects) by joining Jess’ Pack.

Autistic ACCEPTANCE Month

This is a place for folks from the Autistics Coming Together group and other autistic folks to share links to their Autistic Acceptance posts, memes, and compilations about autism during the month of April.

Comments by group members should include links and a title and/or brief descriptions. Any other comments will get deleted. Any comments with cure language or promoting Autism Speaks will get the poster banned. (Don’t ask why, read the links.) Comments will close May 1.

Scroll down to learn more about the REALITY of autism.

I am at war with myself

In the Venn diagram which makes up ME I know three parts.

One is the traumatized betrayed child who huddles within my psyche. I—the part of I that dominates my existence—cannot reach child-me. Nor can child-me reach I. Child-me hears my thoughts when I try to reach that part of me, but rarely responds.

One is unknown to me. Unkown-me lurks in the shadows of my mind, whispering horror and hate. It is the part of me that is driven by a despair and seeks self immolation and dissolution.

And the last is I, the part that is the dominant part of myself, my psyche, the part that I think of as me.

These three and perhaps others I have not yet recognized create the ego-system which is Jessica. (Will I ever really think of myself as Jess? It is the name I have taken on, intend to make mine legally as well as practically. But Jessica is still name that comes to me in moments like these.) I am multitudes within my solitude.

The part of me which dominates this ego-system is the part that is driven to live and heal—though for a long time I did not believe life and healing were possible. For years I would only say that I could not give up. And so I fought on, even when I believed no success was possible.

Though I didn’t realize it, for a long time my greatest fight was with myself. The unknown that seeks destruction and dissolution warred with this part of myself that sought life and healing. It is, I believe, no virtue within me that tipped the scales in favor of I, only luck and chance that put the people who made healing possible in my path. If I possess a virtue that contributed to my survival it is only this:

I am stubborn. And shown a possible path out of utter defeat I walked it even if I had to walk at a crawl.

But the unknown I was (is) stubborn too, and very often I found that I had unknowingly sabotaged myself as my two parts warred inside me.

Sometime in the last decade—I could not clearly point to when, this part of me firmly gained the upper hand. The unknown within me is not defeated—unknown-me fights on. But unknown-me no longer has power. Unknown-me fights a losing battle.

Perhaps, unknown to I, I have had an ally in this battle. Today, unknown-me managed to win a small victory of sorts, undercutting my ability to function until I gave up on getting anything done today. I still often have days when I can’t get anything done, but they are most often do to autistic overload, or (until I started getting treated for B12 deficiency a few weeks ago) physical exhaustion. It is rare today that I am unable to function due to self-sabotague.

I went for a walk and spent some time examining what went on within my mind. I fought with unknown-me while I (A fourth I?) watched and analyzed. And at some point I stepped back from warring with myself and asked myself “where is the child?”

It has been… to long since I sought out my child self. Years ago, realizing I could not reach that part of myself, I stopped trying, instead focusing on those areas where I could make progress.

But today I sought my childself. Child me remained as I remembered me, unreachable, endlessly crying. But today, when I talked to child-me, when I asked myself what I might do that would help, that would heal, that would free myself, for the first time, child-me had an answer.

Don’t stop, I told myself. Whispered through my tears and pain and grief. Don’t stop.

Myself couldn’t touch my childself. I could not hold me or comfort or aid.

But if I can claim one virtue, it is stubbornness.

No, I promised myself, I won’t.

One day, I will find a way to free my child-self, heal my unknown broken self, perhaps (dare I hope?) to reintegrate my ego-system into one self again.

But until that day, I will keep putting one foot in front of the other.

Don’t stop.


Polyamory on Purpose Guides Sale

Almost exactly 5 years ago I released my first book, Polyamory and Pregnancy.

The last five years haven’t gone anything like I expected, but I did get another polyamory book out and got a lot of good shit done. Today I want to celebrate those 5 years. So for the next few weeks, Polyamory and Pregnancy and The Polyamorous Home are on sale for 40-50% off in both ebook and paperback.

If You’ve Been Waiting to Get Your Copy, Now Is the Time

As one of my Amazon reviews says, both books are “What is says on the tin.” Polyamory and pregnancy is all about, well, polyamory and pregnancy. The Polyamorous Home, ditto, all types of polyamorous homes including (yes) a section on solo-poly. They’ve been described as polyamory 101 books, but they are written FOR polyamorous people, so if you aren’t familiar with polyamory or are looking for an intro to polyamory book, look elsewhere first, then come back to learn more.

Polyamory and Pregnancy on Amazon

And from other retailers

The Polyamorous Home on Amazon

And from other retailers

Please remember to leave a review!

Discounting the books by this much means for some of these sales I’ll be getting paid pennies. Please help me out by leaving a review so other folks can find my books.

Many people don’t realize how critical reviews are to authors. For one example, Amazon will begin promoting a book in the “If you like this, you might like that” section of the website only after the book gets a certain number of reviews. Please leave reviews for authors whenever your spoons/time allows!

Don’t miss my fiction

I’ve got a fantasy novel and a few short stories out as well.