Quite Limitless


The first thing I should explain is that Crow really, really loves going to McDonalds for a Happy Meal. He barely eats it, because the food isn’t the point, it’s the ritual/experience.

The key is probably the fact that I let him bring ALL the toys.

Dining with friends

Dining with friends

He loves traveling in the car with his entourage, and I let him bring them inside because, well, it’s McDonalds. He’s delighted to be able to take his toys out of the bag and line them all up or name them all or sort them or tell me about their various features.

So, we stand out a bit when we’re there, because our table is covered in anthropomorphic vehicles and someone who is maybe slightly out of the expected age range for those toys is happily telling general-you which ones are boys and which are girls. Sometimes grandparent-age people stop at our table and complement Crow on his fine collection. He usually at least gives them a high-wattage smile.

Today we had a late lunch in a nearly-deserted McD’s, along with a lot of Planes toys. We’d had a busy day and Crow was chattering away and processing everything and I was checking email on my phone and doing my part of his scripts, which was all the interaction he wanted from me.

An older dude picked a seat a few tables down from us and had his coffee and newspaper, and when he got up to leave, he approached our table and asked me how old Crow is. I always go super-perky on this one, because sometimes it’s code for, “I can’t help but feel that it’s my business to be baffled by your son’s inability to let go of Thomas if he is as old as I think he is, but first I’ll make sure he’s not just a giant preschooler.” and, well, fuck you if it is, as we don’t owe you any sort of pre-programmed progression through the aisles of Toys R Us. This comes out as, “Oh, he’s SEVEN!” in my most excited voice. Smart people will interpret this as a chance to say he has such pretty eyes and move the fuck on.

Anyway, dude asks for his age, I sparkle back that he’s 7, dude then asks, “Does he have A Problem?”

Things I wish I had said:

You mean like, is he a rude git? Nope, but you should still go away in case you’re contagious.

No, but my foot seems to have a problem with (pause) YOUR NUTS (commits violent assault)

No, do you? Do you need us to help you with something?

I think I said something like, “No, but he is autistic,” and I started to say that spoken language is difficult for him but dude cut me off and said, “I see, well, he’s Quite Limited.”

Again, things I wish I had said:

(breaks beer bottle over trash container –suddenly we’re in Europe I guess?- and points it at dude) “Sure you don’t wanna rethink that? I came here to shut down stupid ableism and eat french fries, and while I am not entirely out of fries at this moment I will be soon.” Me = not a badass

OMG, you’re right! HOW DID I NOT SEE THIS BEFORE? Thank you, random person! You’ve cured me of my delusions.

Well…well…so’s your face! (cries) Note: this is probably the most likely of all the alternate scenarios

What I actually said was, “Well, that depends on how you look at it, and my son is awesome and very happy.” I’d like to say that I kept up my act-like-they-just-said-the-nicest-thing delivery, but that’s when I started to falter. I turned my attention back to Crow and the dude left.

It’s likely that my actual responses were better than the HULK SMASH, reptile-brain alternatives, not that it probably mattered to Captain Clueless there. So, yeah. That happened. And I wish it didn’t bother me but it does.  (enough that there’s ANOTHER DAMN POST about it!)

Shaking it off shaking it off shaking it off. I so want to be the kind of person who isn’t bothered by this.

Everything up to that point today was great. I took the day off to hang out with Crow because school starts next week. We got a new Planes lunchbox, and then went over to campus to ride around on buses and look at all the construction equipment and wander around. We went into (empty) Memorial Church to look at the stained glass, and stretched out on pews to look at the ceiling. Someone was up in the loft practicing on the organ and Crow surprised me by being really into it. Every time she’d stop playing he’d say, “keep going!” or “play again!”

We re-created this shot from last year’s similar Crow/Mommy Day:

2013: Stanford Stud

2013: Stanford Stud

2014: Stanford Stu

2014: Stanford Stu

This is where I’m coming from, too


Autistic people do not “recover” and the idea of “recovery” has been profoundly damaging to the Autistic community, encouraging service providers to emphasize normalcy above other more meaningful goals. Furthermore, by teaching Autistic children and adults that “recovery” – pretending to be something we are not – is the “optimal outcome” they can achieve, we send a profoundly damaging message to Autistic people, our families, and the public at large. Autism is a natural part of the human condition and not something to recover from or eliminate. The goal of autism research and service provision should be to create happy Autistic people, not to encourage ‘passing for non-Autistic’ without regard to the impact on our quality of life.

ASAN Statement on Fein Study on Autism and “Recovery”

This is where I’m coming from, too. I don’t want to fix Crow’s neurology, I want to help him find the best ways to work with it, just as we all do with whatever wiring or programming challenges we face. He’s not broken (any more than the rest of us are), we just have an advantage because there’s a name for his variant and a slew of people who can help him learn to work with it. And if you ever hear me say/write anything that doesn’t line up with that basic tenet, I want you to slap me with something smelly. It’s that important.

Get to know me: my kid


Crow is 7, awesome, and rather intensely autistic. He loves Thomas, Pixar, Disneyland, Fruit Ninja, construction equipment, and numbers, and has a smile that lights up the world.

It took a long time for him to speak, and now he’s quite verbal but not really conversational. Language is hard for him, so he uses a lot of scripts and mimicry right now. I’ll take it, we generally manage to communicate pretty well even if no one else would understand it.

YouTube is high on the list of Crow’s favorite things, and if you’ve ever wondered who is watching all those videos of people showing off their entire Thomas or Cars collection – that’s my kid. He loves toy collection videos, and I’m pretty sure that’s why he frequently adds, “Thanks for watching!” when he says goodbye. He also watches videos of kids playing with toys he owns, and I see him mimicking them later with his own toys. It’s like his own little lab where he can access test subjects at will. Crow also loves watching counting/countdown videos, and he recently veered into the thrilling category of Geriatric Exercise Videos – think ‘woman in a cat sweatshirt lifting her arms over her head 100 times and counting aloud.’ Thanks, Internet!*

Numbers are a big part of his brain-schema – I believe he sees numbers before anything else, and so rather than seeing a whole thing or experience, he remembers the numbers. When he was younger and had very little language, we once spent a frustrating couple of days of him pointing at the stack of DVDs and demanding “25! 25! 25!” I felt so helpless because I could not figure out what 25 was, and clearly it was entirely obvious to him. When I finally gave him all the DVDs to sort through, he handed me a Sesame Street video with a tiny 25th anniversary logo on the cover. Duh. 25. The real breakthrough for me was when he summed up an exciting day as, “20, 11:35, 8, 156” and repeated the numbers several times. We had gone to the Mercado 20 theaters at 11:35 to see a movie in theater #8, and then we’d gone to In-n-Out where our order number was 156. Once I saw that, I knew to start noticing important numbers so I could respond when he brought them up later, and his joy at being understood was amazing. He doesn’t do this much now that he can communicate more easily, but we still point out our order numbers and room numbers and addresses, and I know he’s filing them away. If you ask him what his current high score is in Fruit Ninja on a given device, he will tell you immediately, and be delighted that you asked. His score is higher than yours. He mostly learned from watching high-scoring YouTube videos – he’d trace their moves on his iPad and then try them out in the game. I love watching him figure out the world.

Crow in the shower display

Going to Lowe’s with Crow takes longer than going on my own, but it’s much more fun. He had to try out all the shower displays, including this one which looks like a Star Trek transporter.

*YouTube Pro Tip: if you think you’re being clever by using The Final Countdown to score your countdown video, you’re not. It’s been done. And done. And done. Also, Crow singing The Final Countdown is kind of adorable.

They say there’s someone for everyone – even me!


I’m working on a longer post about the guy I’ve been married to for 10 years, but this will do for now.

I married the Karma Fairy.  Control your jealousy.

Doobie in the Karma Fairy costume I made for him.

I got sick a few days after BlogHer, and can’t stop coughing and/or sleeping.  I’m the world’s worst sick person, because I still cling to my belief that I could totally be productive if I just wanted it badly enough (massive coughing fit) and maybe I should try (another massive coughing fit) to do something (collapse).  Doobie has been encouraging/cajoling me to sit on my butt, so I’ve been working on my cross-stitch project and watching a lot of tivo’d Law & Order.  Forgive me for not liveblogging it.

Getting to know me: I buy weird shit.


In addition to living in a powder keg and giving off snark, I also live in a house, or more precisely a funky little shack.  We rent, because spending a million dollars on a house is not in the cards on one income, and that’s what it costs to live here.  I love our place, though.  It’s quirky and run-down, like me.

I’m a collector, but not of traditional collectibles, or of the sort of thing that can get you on Antiques Roadshow, trying to pretend like you’re not going to run out and sell Great-Aunt Myrna’s ugly-but-weirdly-valuable cachepot as soon as you’re off camera.  I like kitsch, I like ugly, I like everyday/forgotten/industrial, I like sincere.

I’ve been trying to focus a bit more, to build things like my bathroom Fish Wall.

Wall of Fish

Wall of Fish

They’re mostly chalkware.  I also have a mermaid wall, but they’re harder to find at non-insane prices, so my fish-to-mermaid ratio is decidedly skewed.

This is the Wall of Presidents from the kitchen.

The Stately Wall of Presidents

The Stately Wall of Presidents

This plate doesn’t really fit with the others, but it’s a complete trainwreck so I love it.  Bad font kerning!  Bad composition – unless they meant to have Lincoln’s grave sodomizing the Lincoln Monument.  Maybe they did, I don’t judge (I totally judge).

Trainwreck Lincoln

Trainwreck Lincoln

I like industrial warning signs.  This one is too modern (obviously) but it’s delightful so it’s in the kitchen.  People should know.

Danger: Robot moves without warning; do not stand in this area

Seriously, don’t stand there. Robots.

This one is by the stove.

Safety Glasses Required

SAFETY, people!

I also like what I guess they call vintage schoolhouse, aka old toys.  I was really into vintage puzzles for a while, and I glued the pieces in place so I could hang them.

wall of puzzles

Glue. So much glue.

At some point I need to get decent photos of my office.  It’s in an unloved 70s university building which will probably have a date with a wrecking ball the minute someone offers to buy the university a new building.  It’s an office with a door and windows that open, which is fabulous, but I had to do something about the blah walls, so I covered the wall behind my desk with (mostly) vintage game boards.  It’s pretty sweet.

I buy this stuff all over the place – mostly garage and estate sales, but also flea markets, rummage sales, thrift shops, and of course ebay.  My house does have a garage, but my car has never been in it – partially because it is behind the house and requires way more Extreme Precision Driving than I’m willing to attempt, but it’s mostly because of my Christmas/Halloween stash.  More about that later.

Greetings People of Earth


Um, hi?

I’m Pearl*.  I have this new blog.  I’ve had blogs before, but it’s been a while and I’ve missed it.

I am that most magical of creatures, a fat 40-ish wife and mom and pro-nerd.  Surely this is a voice that is not heard often enough, right?

Look, I’m really insecure about this.  I just got back from BlogHer, which was so intent on telling me that my voice matters that I walked away thinking there’s no way my voice matters.  That’s my brain, basically.

I’m going to write about me me me, my family, crafts, collecting weird vintage shit and almost burning down my house with the sheer force of my Christmas spirit (and way too many lights feeding off one outlet, but let’s agree to call it Christmas spirit and not an inability to do math).  I will introduce the concepts of Social Calories, Kitschgasms, and Thrift Karma, as well as the practice of wearing stupid shit on your head as a way to overcome social anxiety.  Some of this will make sense.


*I’m not really Pearl, except here.  My husband has declared himself Doobie, and my 7-year-old son is Crow.