My favorite color is purple.

I have a vivid memory from probably the age of 5 or 6. I was sitting at the kitchen table of my grandparents’ house with my parents and I said confidently “When I grow up, I want a purple Corvette!” My favorite color was purple and I’ve been given a little toy car that I was playing with as I sat at the table waiting for dinner. I had asked my aunt earlier what kind of car it was and she’d told me it was a Corvette. I don’t remember what color the toy was, but I do remember wishing it were purple.

Without pause, my dad shut down this ridiculous aspiration with vehement opinions about the kind of person who would drive such a car. I never understood why adults need to batter their children’s idle chatter with real-world logic. Reason doesn’t apply to imagination and we all learn reality soon enough. And in his “reason” was so much racism and homophobia that I internalized for a very long time.

“What’s your favorite color?” This ubiquitous ice-breaker we learn from the moment we understand what colors are haunts us throughout our lifetimes. Adults ask us when we’re little. “What’s your favorite color?” Then we go to school and the other kids ask us. The teachers ask us. Strangers ask us. “What’s your favorite color?” Then we grow up and people are still asking us, if only ironically. “I’m not really great at ice breakers so why don’t we just go around the room and everyone say your name and your favorite color.”

It seems a silly thing to fixate on but I spent decades “trying on” different colors. I’m young and I say my favorite color because boys like blue and I want everyone to believe that I am a boy just like all the other boys are boys. If I say my favorite color is purple maybe they’ll know that I go to sleep fantasizing about romantic scenes in movies I watched with my family, picturing myself as the girl. If I say my favorite color is purple they’ll know I’m not like them. So my favorite color is blue.

Then I am a teen and beauty is everywhere. Everyone is trying to wear the right clothes and shades and shapes to be as close to the ideal as we can get and I get the idea that green eyes are especially attractive and wearing green highlights that shade in my hazel eyes so my favorite color is green. I start wearing as much green as I can stomach. Then the movie “Meet the Parents” comes out and Robert De Niro tells Ben Stiller that geniuses choose green cars so I double down. Green is my favorite color. My first car that I finance myself (and isn’t some used heap of junk my dad saw on someone’s lawn and rang the bell to ask if he could have it) is a green Jeep.

Then I’m in my 20s and trying on my identity as a gay male. My favorite color is pink. I start buying pink t-shirts from Swish Embassy with cheeky gay sayings and nice references on them. I buy a pair of pink-rimmed glasses but they sort of disappear into my pinkish complexion in an unflattering way I don’t like so I return them and get a pair that’s striped rainbow that I have yet to wear in public. I’m here. I’m queer. My favorite color is pink.

Now I’m in my 30s. Someone just asked me the other day what my favorite color was and I told them I didn’t know. Most of my t-shirts are blue or red. My primary footwear includes two pair of sneakers: a red pair and a blue pair. But I still said my favorite color was green because it’s the color of growth and my favorite pair of glasses is green. But I was very noncommittal.

When I was in high school, there was a science teacher whose name I cannot recall because everyone called her “The Purple Lady.” She may have been my first exposure to queer representation (if indeed she was queer) but she had a reputation for her complete obsession with purple. She only wore purple clothing. She had somehow gotten the school to allow her to paint the entire inside of her classroom, including the desks and lab stations, in various shades of purple. And most perplexing of all, to me, was that she wore prescription glasses with purple-tinted lenses. What might the world look like in all purple?

A few weeks ago, I was hanging out with family and there was a kid who was playing with their Amazon Echo. He kept telling Alexa to change the colors of the lights in the room where we were all hanging out. This was a jarring experience. I have been in rooms with colored lighting, certainly, but this was a party and I was already overwhelmed and somehow the colors of the lights (and the fact that they were changing so quickly) really had an impact on my mood. The mellow orange was ok but then he did bright blue and green and I wanted to stand up and yell at everyone to shut the hell up. Red made me feel like I was in some kind of drug den and the bright pink felt like an ocular migraine. But then he switched it to purple and everything felt better. The noise wasn’t so noisy. I found myself relaxing into conversation in a comfortable living room and not on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

Anyway. I don’t really know that it matters much at this point. But, if anyone asks, I think my favorite color might be purple.

I feel like nothing.

I left my water bottle at my parents’ house. They live about an hour away and I think about driving out to get it every single day but I can’t justify the money on gas in my current financial situation when I know there will be another family dinner in a couple of weeks or so when I can get my water bottle. I feel dehydrated. I possibly am dehydrated since I haven’t really been drinking water since I lost track of my water bottle last weekend. I have been drinking soda. I have drunk water mixed with Liquid IV. I’ve had a lot more iced coffee than I normally drink. And while I technically have an abundance of drinking glasses, cups, tumblers, and mugs that would technically hold water, I do not have my water bottle and therefore I cannot drink water.

I was thinking about this a few minutes ago when I noticed my seltzer cup. It’s a giant tumbler that I use for seltzer. I actually haven’t used it in a while because I haven’t been drinking seltzer. When I was working with a psychiatrist last summer to find the right ADHD medication, anything with bubbles was really bothering my stomach. But I lost my insurance when I lost my job so I lost my psychiatrist and—despite weeks of phone calls, voicemails, and emails—I have been unable to see someone new. I was finally able to, today, get an appointment for Tuesday with the NP that I intentionally stopped seeing last year. I don’t think she listens to or believes me based on the limited information in my chart that I have access to and how she has made me feel in prior sessions.

So, anyway, the seltzer cup caught my eye and, since I don’t have my water bottle, I decided to have a big cup of seltzer with lots of ice. I have six straws that I use with this cup. I did not buy them as a set and they’re not related at all but, for me, they go together. The straws match my mood and when I was scanning the straws just now I found the one that matched today and I thought to myself “You look like nothing and I feel like nothing.”

It’s completely bizarre behavior to have rules for which straw I can drink from depending on what my mood is and only when I’m using a particular cup but those are the rules. I don’t actually use the pale pink straw very often. There’s a one with light blue stripes on it that wrap around like a barber’s pole that I use when I’m feeling kind of low and a dark but translucent blue one that I use when I’m feeling really depressed. When I’m super happy, there’s one with bright magenta stripes and then the solid magenta one that I use when I’m feeling wild. The one with light pink stripes is for when I’m feeling content physically ill and trying to perk myself back up but the light pink one where the pink is so pale it could almost not be there, it looks like nothing.

The first time I fully truly thought that I could be on the autism spectrum was in therapy when my therapist told me he thought I might actually meet the criteria for Asperger’s (which I think we don’t really say anymore due to its association with like WW2 Nazis and whatnot, but I digress.) He didn’t say it in the context of suggesting I be tested or seek accommodations or anything. It was a throwaway observation that wounded me, at the time. Autism was something that had been in the back of my head since I was made to watch the film Rain Man. Even through Dustin Hoffman’s painfully stereotypical and stigmatized portrayal of an autistic character, I saw myself. I didn’t want to. I especially didn’t want to in the years that followed when my father would continuously repeat “yeah, definitely yeah” and “I’m an excellent driver” in his own poor impression of Hoffman’s character in the movie as not unlike possible echolalia associated his own undiagnosed autism. But it seemed derisive and I learned that autism was bad and certainly not me who was put in honor’s classes in school. I struggled with projects and homework but tested well so even though I wasn’t getting great greats, they labeled me “smart but lazy” and kept pushing me right along. But having my therapist say this to my face brought it front and center.

As I told various people in my life what had been said to me, the responses varied from “What? You?? Never!” to “Yeah, I could see that.” And I put it away and didn’t think about it except to pull it out again from time to time to explain away awkward situations. “How could you not know what he was trying to say to you?” Oops! I must be autistic. Ha. Ha. It’s probably this flippant attitude that has some of my friends pushing back or not believing me when I talk about my self-diagnosis.

Reflecting back on that therapist, I remember him catching me not picking up on social cues almost like he was playing a game. In particular, I remember a conflict I was having with a roommate at the time. I’d read him some text messaged I’d exchanged with her and I remember him kind of smiling like he thought it was funny. He said, “you don’t understand why she’s mad, do you?” and I really didn’t. He made me guess before finally telling me that how I had phrased something was probably what upset her. He would do this all the time. I remember his stupid smirk that I came to understand meant that he saw something I missed. I felt stupid. Now here I am, ruining every relationship I get in (romantic and otherwise) because I am constantly trying to interpret cues that aren’t there and sometimes they are there and sometimes I’m right but even when I’m right, the other person only admits it about half the time so how am I ever supposed to know? Maybe the trick is to not care. But I hate feeling stupid.

I honestly don’t know if the straw thing could be related to possible autism. I really only know what I’ve read in the DSM and what I’ve seen on TikTok, which doesn’t quite seem credible. So, today, I spent the afternoon going through free autism assessments on I downloaded pages and pages of information about what each assessment means, what the scores mean, how they’re assessed, and even possible flaws in the assessments themselves or certain questions. But I figured I’d share them here because that’s honestly why I started writing here in the first place. Ultimately I want community and belonging. I want to find relationships with people who understand me. I want to stop feeling so misunderstood. A lot of the work is within me, and I guess that means understanding really who I am. I am not sure if these scores are even part of that but I love me some hard data that I can then present to a professional… say a nurse practitioner that has, in the past, made me offer proof of my suspected diagnoses rather than just assessing me herself, for example. Here we go:

So… Maybe I’m feeling like nothing… really lonely, kind of lost and misunderstood, not sure where to go next… but at least the Internet is affirming my self-diagnosis. There could always be some confirmation bias happening when I took the tests but, also, some of these are really blowing my mind. There were a lot of things I didn’t associate with autism and I’m kind of stunned by the scoring. Sort of like an Does everyone not do this? kind of feeling…

I almost forgot! I also took The Aspie Quiz which generated this cute lil thing (I actually hate these colors a lot):

Your broader autism cluster (Aspie) score: 160 of 200
Your neurotypical (non-autistic) score: 43 of 200
You are very likely on the broader autism cluster (Aspie)

Bojack Horseman.

I have a friend who has been hosting monthly writing workshops and I want to share what I wrote today. I’ve shared the past ones here as well (On perception. & “Do not drink your chocolate with your fingers”) but today felt a little different. I’m typically inspired by the prompts and the writing comes easily but today I struggled. I didn’t actually want to write anything. The prompt was a series of quotes from the Netflix series “Bojack Horseman” that I wish I could remember. One was something like “If you’re wearing rose colored glasses, all the red flags just look like flags” and another was something like “How can I be responsible for my own happiness? I can’t even be responsible for my own breakfast.” …real existential shit. In any case, as much as I wanted to be inspired to write, the prompts inspired me to think about the pain I’m experiencing right now: unemployed, lonely, struggling financially, in a major depressive episode, trying to finish my education, struggling with self worth and suicidal ideation, etc. etc. etc. I stared at the screen and nothing happened. I started to type some things but nothing was making sense and then I decided to just type what I was feeling. I ran out of time before I could really get going but I think this is a good start:

Fire. He has to set something on fire. He sits cross-legged on the hard wood floor and turns this thought over and over in his head. Fire. Fire. Fire. Something has to burn. He has to light something up and watch it burn. Burn. Burn. Burn. Fire. The thoughts get hotter and brighter the more he thinks, each thought like kindling, the fire burning itself and consuming. Hot. Bright. Fire.

He unfolds his legs and gets to his feet. He walks to the door. He opens the door. Or, he thinks about opening the door. He doesn’t open the door. He grabs the cool brass knob with his left hand. He grips the knob tight. He can’t turn it. It doesn’t turn. It won’t turn. The fire in his head is blazing. He has to set something on fire. The thoughts are hot. It hurts. It burns. In one quick motion, he butts his head forward and his forehead smacks against the wood of the door. He rests there for a second and feels the relief. The fire is blazing still but he sees some of the flames start to flicker and the smoke gets thicker. He bangs his head against the door again. The smoke is getting thicker and it’s so dark he almost doesn’t see the fire anymore so he does it again. Bang. And again. Bang. Skin against wood. Bang. Fire. Bang. Light something up. Bang. Bang. Bang. He hits his head against the door until the feeling is like the chemical foam blasting out of a fire extinguisher. Bang. Bang. Bang. Until there’s nothing left but cinder and ash. Cool. Cooling. Steady.

He is small. He is a tiny speck of dust in an unfathomable universe, a meaningless blip in eternity. He sees how little he matters. And yet there is no other option than to continue to exist. He pulls on his backpack and trudges past his sleeping mother. He skips the kiss on her forehead this morning. He does not say goodbye. He pulls open the front door and lets himself out into the morning. The day is bright though the sun seems not to have entirely risen yet. The season is spring and the cacophony of birdsong is so loud he can’t think. He has to push his palms against his ears until the overwhelming roar of morning is dampened enough for him to remember where he is going. School. Like every other morning of first grade. He wakes up. He puts on his clothes. He goes to the kitchen and fixes himself a bowl of bran flakes. He kisses his mother goodbye. He takes a left out of his house and another left at the end of the street. He walks one block to the intersection. The crossing guard wears a bright yellow vest in the autumn and in the spring but she wears a bright yellow jacket in the winter. He likes her jacket better than the vest. She helps him diagonally across the busy intersection. He walks all the way down the street. He goes to school. This is the routine. He does it every day but today he has to make himself remember.

He still wants to set something on fire. The thought is like a burning ember still soldiering on from the fire he fought earlier, emanating heat from its survival in the back of his mind but not enough heat that he can’t ignore it.

Money is my thirteenth reason.

I think about suicide every day. The past couple of days I have been thinking it might be helpful to write out my suicide notes. Anger is such a huge part of my depression and as much as my suicidal ideation represents an end to all the pain I’m in, I also fantasize about it being the final “gotcha” for everyone by whom I feel so let down. So much of what overwhelms me feels simultaneously insurmountable and avoidable, like I’m stuck in a giant pit that is only getting deeper and deeper. It’s like I can see who is doing the digging and how I got into the pit in the first place but it doesn’t matter because I am here and I’m never getting out. But it does matter. We all just keep participating in this system that is oppressing and hurting people as though that isn’t its intent in the first place. We are throwing people into these pits and then judging them for not being able to get themselves out somehow. And the people in the pits are like crabs in a bucket, pulling anyone back down who has the temerity to try to get out.

Take, for example, my gas bill. National Grid just sent me a bill for $1,200. I have not been able to afford this utility for a while but when I have called to try to get help or go on a payment plant or literally anything I can do to make sure I have heat and am able to cook and shower and all that, I have been told that the company will not accept payment from me over the phone or online because I’ve had trouble paying in the past. So… because I have trouble paying my bill, they’ve opted to punish me by making the payment process even more difficult.

Take, for example, my car. I live in a state that requires our vehicles to have annual inspections. I failed my inspection once because of some damage to my car’s exterior that I sustained several years ago. So, despite having passed previously, I now have a sticker on my windshield indicating a failed inspection. I got a quote to fix my car and it’s going to cost an amount I’ve never seen in my bank account all at once. I also live in a city where I have to park my car on the street outside my house. I have received several parking tickets for being parked on the street with an expired inspection sticker, all of which I have not been able to afford to pay, so they keep adding on interest and late fees that I’ll need to pay in order to renew my vehicle’s registration next year. And the amount keeps going up. This is how we keep in poverty.

Take, for example, my medical bills. In 2021 my depression was so bad, (though not nearly as bad as it is now,) that I asked my doctor about electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). She referred me to a hospital where I underwent treatment for three months. My depression did not get better and it turns out the hospital was not “in network” with my insurance so now I have $15,000 of medical bills I can’t afford to pay for a traumatic treatment that didn’t help me. And I’m pretty sure supporting me through ECT is one of the reasons my boyfriend broke up with me.

These are just a few of the financial obligations hanging over my head and making me want to end my own life. It’s untenable and there’s no solution. I am unemployed now but say I get a job making even more than I was making before… how long do I have to work and how much do I have to save in order to even make a dent in the debt that’s strangling me right now?

How many people kill themselves because of oppression under late stage capitalism?

It’s not fair. I don’t want to feel this hopeless. I look around and I see happy people going on vacations and falling in love and eating out and experiencing joy. I guess only rich people get that shit.