On monsters and masks

This blogpost may be a little long, and a little different. I thought I’d try out something different in style, so it’ll be interesting (and helpful) to hear what you all think.

There is a reason that I write so much about fairies, shapeshifters, and monsters, that my description of my field of study is “the history of things that aren’t real”. It’s the same reason that I wear dresses and skirts, that you’ll rarely see me outside the house without a full face of make-up: I remember the first time I was called a monster.

[TW for bullying and violence against women beneath the cut]

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Through the looking-glass: Part of Your World

Did any of you really think you’d get away with only one musical blogpost? Thought not! My last blogpost on mermaids throughout history and Melusinian narratives exists at least in part to provide some context for this one: I am obsessed with Melusinian narratives, to the point where I named this blog after them. Melusinian narratives are, in essence, stories about a supernatural being who wants to live in the human world, the most famous pop-culture example being our girl Ariel.

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Through the looking-glass: On faith, fairies, and being a Cool Aspie

I was really pleased to find that my post on living in Fairyland had resonated with so many people, so this is sort of a follow-up on the real-world consequences of my Fairyland hypothesis. Social naïvety is often referenced as a common trait among autistic people, but as someone who frequently comes across as naïve in social interactions, it’s not actually that I’m innately innocent or trusting. It’s that in order to appear ‘high functioning’ in interactions with most people, I have to take it on faith that they’re acting with both our best intentions at heart; that while the “fairies” I live alongside might seem incomprehensible or even cruel, they aren’t intentionally malicious. Which is a positive trait in that I try to be understanding and see the best in people, but it means that I have to take a lot more on faith than most people.

This can end up being pretty funny. Recently, I asked a friend if she wanted to get tickets to a concert, and she insisted that we had a prior engagement that I’d forgotten because she’d already bought them as my Christmas present. When the truth was revealed, she asked why I hadn’t probed her obvious lie, and I realised I’d just assumed she had a really good reason for lying, because she’s one of my best friends and wouldn’t lie to me for no reason. Which was clearly the right assumption, in this case, because she’s amazing and gave me a wonderful surprise.

But it can also be harmful, or potentially dangerous. It’s very difficult to set reasonable boundaries when your perceptions of “too loud” or “too touchy-feely” or “too intimate” are frequently viewed as unacceptable or abnormal by the rest of the world, and when you do draw a line and someone crosses it, it’s hard to tell thoughtlessness or a lapse in empathy from intentional unkindness. I tend to err on the side of assuming thoughtlessness, which means I tend to appear pretty forgiving when other people read these boundary transgressions as unacceptable.

My last relationship is testament to this: I tolerated a lot of boundary crossing and unkindness that to many of my friends seemed utterly unacceptable given that I’m not a stupid girl. But I didn’t argue when he picked me up when he knew I hated it or physically moved me out of peoples’ way or shouted at me over trivial issues, because he said he loved me and someone who loved me wouldn’t intentionally hurt me, right? So he’d apologise, and I’d accept it over and over again because tolerating the incomprehensible whims of people I care about is practically engraved into my bones at this point.

I’m not actually that forgiving. I just have a very poor sense of what is an acceptable way for people to treat me, and I would rather be seen to underreact than overreact. It adds another layer to the now-infamous ‘Cool Girl‘ speech from Gone Girl: I’m the ‘cool Aspie’. I don’t have public meltdowns. I don’t complain when things are too loud or too crowded or too invasive. I don’t cry when people act in ways that don’t make sense to me. I don’t shout or scream or demand any kind of accommodations, and the most embarrassing things I do when overwhelmed in public are reading, knitting, or leaving.

If I tend to ignore what I want or need in favour of what the people who surround me will think is normal, it’s because that’s what the world has taught me to value. If I’m inclined to being overly trusting it’s because I don’t know how to be anything else and still be able to interact with an intensely confusing world. I’m not naïve. I just have to hope everyone else is trying as hard to be tolerant as I am.

Through the Looking Glass: Science vs. Romance

Surprise! This is going to be another musical blogpost. I have had this song stuck in my head for 2 weeks straight and it’s been giving me lots of things that I think I want to talk about. So all aboard, we’re about to talk about my Personal Experiences again, because this is my blog and I can be self-indulgent if I want to. So today, as per the title of this post, I’m going to talk about Romance. Yay. Did any of you sign up for this? No, but you’re getting it anyway.

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Away with the fairies?: Living in Fairyland

Cicely Mary Barker, The Cowslip Fairy, c. 1935

So I spend a lot of time thinking about fairies, as you may have noticed from my changelings post (and the name of this blog). And, as anyone who’s ever read half a paragraph on folklore will happily tell you, the Cicely Mary Barker fairies that dominate my room even to this day are adorable but far from the historical norm. The fairies of medieval literature, my speciality, are frequently characterised as incredibly powerful, arbitrary, incomprehensible, and freed from the rules that govern human morality. They steal babies and protect them, cure illnesses and cause strokes, uncover hidden treasures and bestow arbitrary curses. They’re not exactly evil, but to a human mindset, they are incomprehensible, according to James Wade, an expert on the subject I very much admire.

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