beautiful calm coast dawn

Mini-NonFic Monday: Processing Noise, Seeking Stillness

Genre: Nonfiction

In the stillness there is contentment. Less processing of sound and more flow of thought. I’m more at peace here, devoid of noise. Although I have no idea what totally quiet means. Even when voices aren’t present, there’s the hum of the fridge, the lamp timer softly ticks, and the fan of our furnace is constantly having an opinion.

Even so, amid the ever-present sound, I can sometimes feel the stillness. It comes from my own self. I like to communicate quietly. Someone in my past told my parent I was mute. I had to learn to be boisterous, feeding on the energy of my extroversion, copying the delivery I heard from comedians. Discovering what stuck and what bombed. Eventually, my humour was my own. I would be the life of the gathering. People got excited when I entered a room because they knew I would be entertaining.

I never had the chance to know what it would be like to be a non-vocal extrovert. For some reason, speaking out loud is important to so many people.

I would have loved to have learned signing as a child. Then, I could express my humour while being silent. The lack of voices would have made me feel calmer too, and I’m sure the banter would have been amazing.

I don’t understand ASL, but even without knowing the signs, I love watching the movements of the conversations. It soothes me. The facial expressions make me feel so engaged. Where I live now, they speak with their vocal chords and almost completely free of emotion. It makes me feel sad. I guess I prefer quiet communication with loud emotions.

My relationship with sound has always been complex. It can seduce me or repel me. I can be hard of hearing and acutely hearing at the same time. Voices often elude me. They get buried underneath all the other noises in the room.

Music has always been a huge part of my life. But I can love the drums yet go into a panic over repetitive patterns. Perhaps controlling the beat and varying it with riffs and rolls makes it okay in my brain. Whenever I was in a band whose musicians didn’t bother listening to each other, I felt tormented by the ghastly intersecting of sounds that didn’t go together. I would often lose my temper or beg them to stop playing, not understanding how they could be so calm amid the chaos.

Today though, I’m alone. It’s my day to control how much noise I hear. I don’t have to speak out loud for hours. This is paradise. A temporary visit to Innisfree. My only regret is that time is passing too quickly, and I will have to use my voice soon.

I wish people understood, even in my own family, how much stillness I need.

Because it dials everything back.

There is beauty in still moments.

If only they didn’t have to be so fleeting.

Processing Noise, Seeking Stillness © 2023 Cait Gordon. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without permission except in the case of brief quotations in critical articles and reviews. For more information, contact Cait Gordon.

A greyscale close-up of me, standing in front of a blank background. I am a white woman with short silver hair cropped closely on the sides. I am wearing dark metallic rimmed glasses with rhinestones on the side. I’m wearing silver hook earrings with flat beads and a plaid shirt.

Cait Gordon is an autistic, disabled, and queer Canadian writer of speculative fiction that celebrates diversity. She is the author of Life in the ’CosmThe Stealth Lovers, and the forthcoming Iris and the Crew Tear Through Space (2023). Cait also founded the Spoonie Authors Network and joined Talia C. Johnson to co-edit the multi-genre disability fiction anthologies Nothing Without Us and Nothing Without Us Too. 

Featured photo by Pixabay on

gold glitter

Mini-fiction Monday: Golden Infinity

CN: Anti-autistic ableism Genre: Autobiographical poem

Golden infinity. 

A shimmering figure eight 

in repose. 

I’m not a puzzle piece. 

I have endless potential

of being. 

I’m verbal when I’m silent. 

My fingers speak for me. 

Tapping away. 

Sometimes I forget

to turn off the closed captions

on my face. 

I can’t remain focused on one star

when there are a plethora of galaxies 

just waiting to be noticed. 

Some touches cause recoil. 

Others are welcome. 

But on my terms. 

Sound can delight and make me soar. 

It can also cause me to recoil

and flee. 

I am kind, honest, and often clueless. 

Their rules make no sense to me

most of the time. 

Creativity is a salvation, a gift

given by the Creator. 

To practice my craft is to sustain my life. 

I am not “stupid.”

They just don’t want to try to

understand me. 

Folks like me diverge from the “norm.”

We don’t need to be repaired. 

We need acceptance. 

My brain is complex, a whirlwind of 

possibilities. It is mine. 

And I love it just as it is. 

I will never want to fit

into your puzzle. I will continue 

on this loop…

…of golden infinity. 

(Did you know a golden infinity symbol is often used to represent autistic pride?)

Golden Infinity © 2023 Cait Gordon. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without permission except in the case of brief quotations in critical articles and reviews. This is a work of fiction from the author’s imagination, and any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental. For more information, contact Cait Gordon.

A greyscale close-up of me, standing in front of a blank background. I am a white woman with short silver hair cropped closely on the sides. I am wearing dark metallic rimmed glasses with rhinestones on the side. I’m wearing silver hook earrings with flat beads and a plaid shirt.

Cait Gordon is an autistic, disabled, and queer Canadian writer of speculative fiction that celebrates diversity. She is the author of Life in the ’CosmThe Stealth Lovers, and the forthcoming Iris and the Crew Tear Through Space (2023). Cait also founded the Spoonie Authors Network and joined Talia C. Johnson to co-edit the multi-genre disability fiction anthologies Nothing Without Us and Nothing Without Us Too. 

Featured photos by Achira22 on

ID: tornado on body of water during golden hour

Arr Ess Dee, A Poem

My Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria (RSD) has sent me into a tailspin this morning, so I wrote a poem about how it feels, as one does! Please note that these are just my own perceptions while in this headspace.

Arr Ess Dee

I’ve been inside the funnel
the tailspin, the cyclone
and I can’t get grounded
I can’t feel the ground

Refuse, garbage, disposable
Unworthy, failure, trash
There’s nothing redeeming
Whirl, whirl, whirl, whirl, whirl

I know my heart can be kind
My brain, it tries so hard
To show my love, to help
But my timing’s wrong

I learn, then fail, learn, then fail
Can I get it right?
Processing all of it
Swirl, swirl, swirl, swirl, swirl

Afraid to ask if I’m loved
Afraid I will to lose you
I stay in the funnel
It’s better this way

Rejection feels imminent
Cast off, cast away, cast
No chance of redemption
Whirl, whirl, whirl, whirl, whirl

I remain in the cyclone
Wishing for rescuers
Hoping beyond all hope
That person will be…


Arr Ess Dee © 2021 Cait Gordon. All rights reserved. No part of this poem may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without permission except in the case of brief quotations in critical articles and reviews. For more information, contact Cait Gordon.

Greyscale headshot of Cait Gordon wearing a dark shirt.

Cait Gordon is a Canadian autistic, disabled, and queer author of speculative fiction that celebrates diversity. She also co-edited Nothing Without Us, a 2020 Prix Aurora Award finalist for Best Related Work. When not fine-tuning manuscripts, Cait advocates for disability representation and is the founder of the Spoonie Authors Network.

A pastel rainbow background with a bold neurodiversity pride symbol in the foreground

The Masks, A Poem

I am fluent in languages
not like English, Français, or Gaeilge.
I mean the social languages
you constructed before
and built during
my time.

There were no classes to teach me
all of the facial expressions, subtext,
and the unspoken assumptions.
I learned by mistakes
and the shunning
that followed.

To survive and be accepted
I refused to give up; I mastered them.
Even though I despised this speech.
Even though I wore them
like a disguise,
like masks.

But I could not sustain it long.
I’d grow tired, frustrated, my light dimmed.
Covers became my hiding place.
My voice did not matter
I kept silent,

For years, I remained in circles,
spinning words that had no meaning for me.
Until I discovered there were
so many others who
were like me but

They refused meaningless constructs
and let me express myself as I am.
Respect and boundaries were kept.
No excuse to be rude.
And I destroyed
my masks.

There are many ways to exist.
Not only as the neurotypicals live.
Some of us diverge from the norm.
We have value ourselves.
We should never
be masked.

The Masks © 2021 Cait Gordon. All rights reserved. No part of this poem may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without permission except in the case of brief quotations in critical articles and reviews. For more information, contact Cait Gordon.

I was interviewed by Ada Hoffman as part of their series about autistic authors, taking place this April!

Canadian speculating fiction author and poet Ada Hoffman interviewed me as part of their series on autistic authors, taking place during the month of April. We discuss Nothing Without Us, autistic representation in fiction, and what it’s like to be an autistic author in the publishing world!

You can find the interview here. I highly recommend following the series!

You can also follow Ada on Twitter!

Cait Gordon is a disability advocate who wants everyone to be wise and think of others as we battle COVID-19!

Cait is also the author of humorous space opera novels Life in the ’Cosm and The Stealth Lovers, and she is the co-editor of the Prix Aurora Award nominated anthology Nothing Without Us. When Cait’s not writing, she’s editing manuscripts and running The Spoonie Authors Network, a blog whose contributors manage disabilities and/or chronic conditions. Her latest new adventure is hosting the In the ’Cosm podcast, which is really an excuse to gush over authors she admires.

ID: Zoom snapshot of Canadian author Christina Robins (on the left, laughing. Christina has tawny-rosy skin and long wavy auburn hair, tied back. She’s wearing a brown-black top and is holding a sky-blue Wonder Woman mug. She is sitting in a pale grey room and there's a black cat on the couch behind her. Cait Gordon is on the right, against a spacey backdrop with the In the ’Cosm logo.

In the ’Cosm Podcast S1, Ep5: Diversity representation in fiction (and why Jackie Collins is awesome) with Christina Robins

CW: Mentions of sex trafficking, relationship abuse, and child abuse

Emerging Canadian author Christina Robins shares her point of view about sex work and writing a protagonist who is a sex worker in her newly released novella, Entanglements. She also explains why autistic characters are not “too much,” and how she loves reading and writing stories about women who push boundaries. Also, she shares about the influence of Jackie Collins in her [Christina’s] life!

You can listen to this episode by clicking the embedded Spotify widget, or you can stream the podcast from  Anchor.fmApple PodcastsSpotifyPocket CastsRadio Public, and Google Podcasts. You can also watch it (with CC) on my YouTube Channel! (Click the bell on my YouTube channel to be notified when new episodes are published!)

(Please scroll down to read the transcript for this episode.)

If you enjoyed this episode, please consider sharing and giving a positive rating!


ID: Zoom snapshot of Canadian author Christina Robins (on the left, laughing. Christina has tawny-rosy skin and long wavy auburn hair, tied back. She’s wearing a brown-black top and is holding a sky-blue Wonder Woman mug. She is sitting in a pale grey room and there's a black cat on the couch behind her. Cait Gordon is on the right, against a spacey backdrop with the In the ’Cosm logo.
(There was so much laughing!)

CW: Today’s episode of In the ’Cosm features a discussion about the representation of sex workers in fiction, and mentions of relationship abuse and child. Please listen or read with care.

Intro: Hi, and welcome to In the ’Cosm. I’m your host Canadian speculative fiction author Cait Gordon. I’ve started this podcast, so I can chat with authors and other creatives I simply fan girl over. I hope you enjoy diving into my microcosm and feel inspired to seek out the works of these amazing humans.

Cait Gordon: Hi, I’m Cait Gordon, and today is really super thrilling for me because I finally get to speak with someone I’ve been friends with for years on Twitter, Canadian romance author, Christina Robins. Christina lives in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories in the sub-Arctic with her chef husband and five rescue cats. Her writing is about women who don’t always follow the rules society has set out. Christina wants her works to encourage conversations about love, life, and how women survive in a world that bases their self-worth on whether they have a partner or kids, or if they fit into the narrow definition of what it means to be a woman. She is a champion of LGBTQA2S rights and the Black Lives Matter movement, and believes in reconciliation for the Indigenous population and the Land Back movement. She is the newest contributing blogger of the Spoonie Authors Network and her novella, Entanglements has just been released and is now available on Amazon. Welcome, Christina!

Christina Robins: Thank you for inviting me on your fun podcast [laughs].

Cait Gordon: I’m so glad you’re here. Thank you for being a part of my microcosm today.

Christina Robins: It’s so much fun to finally meet you [laughs].

Cait Gordon: I know, right? You’re more than just a face that just kind of tilts to the side it looks gorgeous, but… [laughter]

Christina Robins: Okay, I know my angles [laughter].

Cait Gordon: No judgment; you’re gorgeous [Christina laughs]. Okay, so a really exciting thing happened to you! You published your first novella, Entanglements, and I hope it’s the first of many and yes, for people who are listening to this, Christina just held up the cover, it’s just awesome. And actually I do—before I go further into this question, can you describe that cover and why you chose it to be the way it is?

Christina Robins: Well, one of the people who got me into the idea of self-publishing is a woman named Maria Ann Green, and Maria Ann Green… she did the cover for me. I asked for a Toronto skyline, I wanted her to be the character, and the colours, and everything just worked so perfectly together. I just I love it; it’s shiny, it’s pretty, it’s beautiful, it’s like everything I imagined for my first book [laughs].

Cait Gordon: I mean, the woman on the cover is so elegant as well. She’s wearing kind of a strapless dress. Is she adjusting an earring? I’m thinking she’s adjusting an earring with her long, beautiful hair and—

Christina Robins: Yeah, and the hair was everything because there’s a, there’s a line in the thing where he looks at her, and he’s like, “Goddess-like waves,” and he’s like, “Goddess like waves? I don’t think like that!” [Cait laughs] And I wanted her to have goddess-like waves [laughs].

Cait Gordon: She absolutely does. I really enjoyed Entanglements. Would you please tell our audience what it’s about and also the author you pay homage to in this work?

Christina Robins: Entanglements, is a book about a woman named Serena, who’s been through a lot of bad stuff in her life. She’s a sex worker. She makes a ridiculous amount of money, but she’s worked her way up to that. One day, when she’s in a bookstore, she runs into a guy who flirts with her, and she basically shuts him down, and this guy happens to be one of the biggest Canadian movie stars, as in, like, he’s gotten through Hollywood, and now he’s like Oscar-winning and everything, and she of course doesn’t recognize him nor care. Until, like, she’s like, “Yeah sure, you’re kind of cute. Let’s go for dinner.” And in the background of it all, there’s sex traffickers. Because to be honest with you, being an ex-sex worker, I can tell you there are places you work that are 100%, safe and wonderful, and there are places you work, where you’re working there because you have to and you know there are people that are there that shouldn’t be there. I chose to highlight the other one, because until sex workers have deregulate—like have their own regulations, have decriminalization, these people, like, these sex traffickers in my book, will continue to be able to prey on young girls.

Cait Gordon: Right.

Christina Robins: Serena started working when she was 17. I started working when I was 17. I’ve run across some of the best people in the world who work in this industry, and I’ve run across some of the scariest people in the world. I was lucky enough to have someone for 10 years, who was like a mother to me and treated me very well. Not a lot of women have that, that ability, and the reason they don’t have that ability is because they’re afraid to go to the police. They’re afraid to admit what they do for a living, because it’s so taboo and it’s so, so wrong according to society, when really it’s just women monetizing their time and who they are, for someone to pay for that time. They’re not giving anything away, they’re not breaking themselves, they’re not—there they’re making a conscious choice to monetize. It’s no different than me writing, and no one really worried about my bodily… I don’t know what word I’m looking for here, but no one cared about my body when I was working in a nursing home, which as we’ve seen, is a very dangerous job.

Cait Gordon: Wow.

Christina Robins: So, you know, yeah.

Cait Gordon: And the author that you paid homage to in Entanglements?

Christina Robins: That’s Jackie Collins. Jackie Collins is the sister of Joan Collins. Some of you may know her as an actress from, I think she was in Dynasty, but I’m not really sure.

Cait Gordon: Yeah, that’s right, yeah!

Christina Robins: Yeah, okay! [laughs] She’s also a writer, by the way, and she writes very similar books to her sister. I think she only wrote like two, but they’re fantastic. So Jackie Collins, I discovered her on my mom’s bedside table when I was about seven, I’d say. [laughs]

Cait Gordon: Oh my gosh!

Christina Robins: Yeah, I was way too young to be reading her books. But I actually think reading her books is the reason why I didn’t really get into boys till I was like 19. [Cait laughs] It wasn’t a mystery [laughter]. She writes, she writes sexy smutty fun books, but the great thing about her is her characters. Her characters make you want to know them. And that to me is the most important thing in a book. I don’t want to read three pages about the slime on a wall, but I do want to read three pages about the backstory of, you know, Gino Santangelo. The Santangelos is a family throughout her series. And Gino Santangelo is the mob boss who goes, you know, and like the very first book I read of hers was Chances.

Cait Gordon: Yes.

Christina Robins: And it takes place and it’s the story of Gino Santangelo and his daughter, Lucky Santangelo, and it takes place during the blackout in New York 1977 where all these characters come together. And he’s coming back from Israel, where he was, what’s the word I’m looking for—exiled to, so that he didn’t go to jail kind of thing. And so he’s coming back, and Lucky has taken over all of his businesses, and I mean it’s just a family that you’re fascinated by and then she adds so much, and she adds different people, and she has very diverse casts, like, it’s not all white people.

Cait Gordon: Right.

Christina Robins: She was a very forward-thinking writer at a time when people just looked at her and went, “Oh, she’s garbage. She’s just silly; she’s’s fluff.” And it’s like, “She’s fluff?” She writes just as good a book about the mob is Mario Puzo. But because it’s a woman writing it, who happens to be very glamorous and lives in Hollywood and have a rich husband, it’s trash. So, I pay homage to her because she’s the reason I became a writer.

Cait Gordon: Well, you know, it’s so funny because when um—I really wanted to read Entanglements, and I remember at the time, I was exhausted, I could barely get words through into my brain. But I really wanted to read it and then I saw your dedication to Jackie Collins. I said, “Oh! Well, that’s okay.” And then I started reading and went, “Wait a minute, this is reminding me of how much I used to love Jackie Collins’ books.” I mean, it’s not—you’re not being her, but you can tell the influence, and your characters are also characters that I just wanted to know. I just, I just gobbled up this book, I love the characters, and like, I need you to tell me every time you publish something. [Christina laughs] I think it’s just gonna be my delicious reads [Christina laughs], you know like what I need to just kind of tune out the world and get involved.

Christina Robins: Yeah.

Cait Gordon: I love that you did that, and I love that you—you did also write a little bit about that at the end of your book, about Jackie Collins, being kind of understated and underrated.

Christina Robins: Yup, yeah.

Cait Gordon:  And she was a good writer, and her stories were very absorbing so…

Christina Robins: Yeah, yeah.

Cait Gordon: But Entanglements has a Canadian feel. And I love how the protagonist is a, is a sex worker. And I love how you bring own-voices experience into that writing, and you don’t give into the “please rescue me from my life” trope, right? I mean, yeah, that’s so done.

Christina Robins: Her life is fine, she has no problems in her life; she does a job, she makes a lot of money at it, she enjoys herself. And the only reason she decides she wants to quit is the same reason we all do, we’re tired! Men are exhausting [laughter]. You know, it just gets to where you’re like, “Yeah I can’t do this anymore.” But it’s not because it’s taking something away, it’s because you get kind of burnt out on all the emotional labour that goes into it. There’s so much emotional labour that goes into being a good sex worker that people ignore completely. We’re therapists, we’re massage—you know, we’re massage therapists, we’re, we’re the people that they come to you to talk and to have someone listen to them, and I don’t think enough credit is given to sex workers for the amount of work you have to put in to maintain regulars, the amount of emotional labour, the amount of, you know, everything just understanding what they like, what they dislike. I used to be fascinated by the courtesans of like, France, and how the King’s mistresses used to become like almost like the queen. Courtesans were the same. You knew what he liked, you knew what turned them on, you knew what food he liked, what wine he liked, that kind of thing, and that was sort of the world I was involved in. It wasn’t just “wham-bam, thank you ma’am,” it was talking and getting to know each other and sometimes giving a little bit of yourself and them being able to be comfortable doing that. And I think that’s something that’s really left out of sex work that bothers me a lot, is the idea that we’re just, we’re doing easy money. It’s not frickin’ easy [laughs].

Cait Gordon: Well, no, I mean, you know, it sounds like it’s a lot about human connection as well, and human connection is, is beyond the physical. And I’m sure if someone is going to you again and again, it’s because they feel this connection. They feel safe with you, right?

Christina Robins:  Yeah. Mhm.

Cait Gordon: And I think that’s brilliant to actually write the part about the emotional labour that’s involved with sex work because that isn’t written about as much.

Christina Robins: Yeah. No, it’s always the salacious parts. It’s never the boring, you know, “We’re your therapist.” [laughs]

Cait Gordon: Yeah! No, I mean, I, I’m really glad you said that because I think that’s really important for people to know. And so just before we hit record [laughs], you started to say things. I said, “Wait wait, let’s leave this to the recording, because it’s very important.” So you’re now out in the world as a published author, and you’ve chosen the indie publishing route. That is the route that you have chosen. And you wrote an article for the Spoonie Authors Network, and I had just been speaking to students at Trent University, I don’t remember if it was last week or the week before about autism representation in fiction. And your article on the Spoonie Authors Network was talking about how there was all these different marginalizations that were acceptable, but then when the autism came up, it was like, “Oh wow, that’s too much,” and I, I’d like you to, if you don’t mind, to talk more about that, and to explain why for you, indie publishing is the way that you feel is the best path for you right now.

Christina Robins: Um, okay, well, first off, the character I wrote in this book, which I have not released, and I’m probably going to hold back for a while because I really want to get her perfect, is basically me: she’s bisexual, she’s biracial, she has autism. I wasn’t diagnosed until I was in my 40s, and once I was, it was like a light went on. I went, “Oh, ohhh!” And like, everything was clear and instead of apologizing for being the way I am, I am the way I am.

Cait Gordon: Right.

Christina Robins: So traditional publishing, I’ve been told both the title, which I called Slut because I like to push the boundaries, and I don’t think it’s a word—it’s a word that’s used to put women down. I want it to be a word that a woman uses because she’s proud of, like, not putting up with crap and not staying with a guy because society says that if you leave him after two weeks, you’re a slut.

Cait Gordon: Right. It’s like a reclaiming the word, right?

Christina Robins: Yeah, it’s like sort of reclaiming the word and also showing how the word is used against women, especially women who don’t fall in line. Like, if I’m dating somebody for two weeks, and I see red flags, I’m gonna break up with them. And then if I’m dating someone else and I see red flags, I’m gonna break up with them. Society prefers that I stay with those guys for like a couple of years, destroy my self-esteem, and actually be miserable. Than say, “Hey, you know, I’m not happy in this situation, I’m leaving and going somewhere else. I’m not happy in this situation…” It doesn’t matter how many guys you date, It matters whether or not you’re happy.

Cait Gordon: Yes.

Christina Robins: And that that’s something that I don’t think traditional publishing has caught up to yet, is that they want diverse voices, and they want interesting own voices and all this stuff, but when it comes to real humanity, they want it to be candy-coated.

Cait Gordon: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Christina Robins: They want the “autism person” to be rocking in a corner, nonverbal, because that’s the only way. They don’t understand that autism comes in all different flavours.

Cait Gordon: Yes.

Christina Robins: And shades and we’re all, we’re all different, we’re not a monolith, and that’s the problem, is it—autism is seen as this, like, monolith, and it’s often seen from the eyes of the parents, and not the actual person with autism. And so I want to remove those. She can function! She has a day job, but guess what her day job is? At home! Because that way she doesn’t have to deal with people. So, she’s managed to figure out how to make money without, you know, going outside of what she’s comfortable with. She doesn’t like crowded subways, these are all just little tiny things that were really important for the character, and including the fact that her new boyfriend makes fun of her and says, “If you don’t want to be weird, don’t be weird,” instead of, “You have autism.” “I don’t believe that; I just think I just think you use it as an excuse to be weird.” And I think it’s really important that you see characters who don’t accept the autism that are rude, that are, you know, that use it as a, as a paddle to beat them. [laughs]

Cait Gordon: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Christina Robins: Like, uses that autism to, like, victimize them more, and I, that’s just really important to me, so when I was told that the autism was a little too much, it was, it was like a little knife in the heart. And then I realized that I don’t care what they think.

Cait Gordon: Yeah…yeah!

Christina Robins: And that’s why I went indie because I don’t care what they think. I know that I’ve written decent stories. I know that I want my words out there, and if it wasn’t for self-publishing, you would never have heard of Virginia Woolf.

Cait Gordon: Right!

Christina Robins: Because her husband was the one who published the books in the garage.

Cait Gordon: Yes, yes!

Christina Robins: And that’s the earliest form of self-publishing. And Simone de Beauvoir, who’s another amazing writer who you’ve heard of, you would never have heard of, if she didn’t get published in the magazine that, you know her… I guess not husband but her lifetime boyfriend was publishing. He published her works as well too. So I mean, if you believe in yourself, other people will believe in you, but it’s a big gatekeeping publishing traditional world out there. And I don’t think I’m what they want, and that’s fine because I don’t really want to give my words to somebody and then have no control over them.

Cait Gordon: I absolutely agree, and you know, I mean I’m with Renaissance press. And I think one of the reasons that I’m with them is the entire leadership is autistic, disabled, and such. So I’m going to my home, basically, with them. If I was not with Renaissance press, I would be doing the indie route as well. And it really resonates with me when you say you want your words, you know, to be kind of safe, protected, and such. When, when, when it came to Nothing Without Us, one of the first things I said in the interview was, if I had to do that anthology with another publisher, I’d be constantly butting heads, and you know you don’t want to give up your identities, because these are your lived experiences, and, and I think that if you want to find pretty excellent own-voices stuff, you’ve got to look into the indie publishing world.

Christina Robins: Yeah.

Cait Gordon: That’s where those real great stories are, so I applaud you. And indie authors are typically my clients, as an editor, and their works—they are well written, there’s so much thought put into them. They don’t want to just write something and then put the first draft, you know these are people—

Christina Robins: Yeah I know!

Cait Gordon: Right? They care about content, they care about the cover design…

Christina Robins: Yeah. Yeah, and the cover design, as I said before, was done by my friend Maria. Maria started self-publishing after she had her first work, which I helped her as a, as a critique partner. That’s how we met. Again, another person I’ve never met in real life, but I’ve shared more with her than most [Cait laughs] of my real-life friends, she’s a friend. She started self-publishing because she wrote a serial killer book and people were like, “Gasp, no one’s gonna want to read a serial killer book by a woman.” [laughter] So she’s like, “Well, too bad because they’re gonna,” and she self-published, and she does amazing artwork and she does the formatting, and she does all that for me. I have another amazing editor that I work with out of San Diego, who again I’ve never met, we’ve only ever emailed, but she believes in my work, she understands it, and, and she would never have said that about the autism.

Cait Gordon: Right. Yes!

Christina Robins: She even said that to me. She’s so happy to work on it. She didn’t help with Entanglements, unfortunately. That was done by you! [Laughter]

Cait Gordon: Oh [laughs] well, that was just a friend saying, “Hey [laughs], since I’m reading this anyway…” You know what? I have to make a confession. I am a horrible beta reader. When people ask me to beta read or blurb their stuff, I can’t turn off the editor part.

Christina Robins: I know, I totally understand! [laughter]

Cait Gordon: I just can’t. It’s like okay, “Well, can I just do the punctuation?” [laughs]

Christina Robins: Yeah, you made me better with that! Now I’m like looking at it as I’m going through—I’m going through and finishing up my next book, which is going to be actually about a female serial killer. [laughter, and Cait says, “But you’re a woman, though,” even though it didn’t come out clear in audio.] I know! It’s actually‑her [Maria Ann Green’s] serial killer, the first one was a man, The second one was a woman. Anyway. But, and her series is called a Deeper into Darkness in the Darkness series, so if you want to check it out it’s on Amazon. It’s on Amazon Kindle, it’s fantastic. So my book’s going to be Angel of Death, and it’s about a woman who’s a serial killer, but she’s on a mission, and that mission is to save children from abusive parents.

Cait Gordon: Ooo!

Christina Robins: She takes the children—she actually works for Child Services, and she realizes that they’re not doing anything to help these kids, so she starts taking matters into her own hands. Unfortunately, there’s a cop that’s looking at—sorry, a detective that’s looking into it, and she happens to fall in love him, for the first time ever, so [laughs].

Cait Gordon: Oh my goodness!

Christina Robins: [Laughs] So, that’s the plot of my next book, but while I’m going through it, I’m like, “Oooh, that needs to hug that, [Cait laughs] because you said punctuation loves to hug [laughs].

Cait Gordon: Punctuation loves—that’s how I remember things, too. Punctuation—the quotation marks like to hug the punctuation.

Christina Robins: Yeah [laughs].

Cait Gordon: And stuff. But you know it’s uh—no, it’s very good, Entanglements is a very good first work. I look forward to the other things. You mentioned Slut, now you mentioned this series, are there any other things? I know a lot of authors tend to have a lot of WIPs in their list.

Christina Robins: I have so many ideas. I have a pandemic idea that I’ve been working on, well, actually not working so much as writing stuff on a whiteboard and walking away [laughter]. So yeah I have, I have a pandemic book that I want to do, but I want to wait till it’s over. I, it’s, it’s gonna be about a 25-year-old woman who has prepared her entire life to be a doctor’s wife. And then he dies.

Cait Gordon: Oh my!

Christina Robins: So, she’s gonna have to figure out who she is, without being a doctor’s wife because she’s grown up in this really rich sort of environment, and this is what she was expected, and he’s her high school boyfriend, so she’s never been with anyone else. This was her whole life. And I think a lot of people are going to be going through that.

Cait Gordon: Yeah.

Christina Robins: That loss.

Cait Gordon: Yes!

Christina Robins: And figuring out who they are as a person, but it’s not going to be a depressing book, it’s going to be an uplifting book about a woman who finds who she is without a man.

Cait Gordon: Yeah, I love that. I mean, you know I love these themes that you’re exploring. I mean, it fits in with what we read about in your bio; you know, you want to provoke conversation, and I think that’s what good writing does.

Christina Robins: Yes.

Cait Gordon: You know, it provokes a conversation, you know, whether you agree with what is written or not you go, “Yeah, but you know, it was still really interesting. What do you think about that? I’m not sure what to think about that,” but people are talking.

Christina Robins: Exactly.

Cait Gordon: That is what I feel as writers we should do, particularly fiction writers. I often talk about how fiction can influence real life, there’s a, there’s power in fiction, not just only nonfiction. I always say that I use a cell phone because somebody invented the communicator in Star Trek, right? [laughter]

Christina Robins: Right?

Cait Gordon: There’s a power. I think we need more stories about women that are diverse stories in themselves as well, right? Because women are also not monoliths, right?

Christina Robins: No, no.

Cait Gordon: And that, so I salute you that this is where you’re going with this. Um, there’s one thing I want to bring up though, when you talked about like in Slut, about how you date someone for two weeks and you leave, and you date someone two weeks and you leave. I personally wish, I mean I’m 51 years old, I wish I had come from a generation that said, “If you don’t like something, leave.”

Christina Robins: Exactly.

Cait Gordon:  Right?

Christina Robins: Like, somehow it’s a failure to leave somebody who’s abusing you. It’s not a failure, it’s the biggest strength you can have, and that’s the thing, women are constantly told to just deal with it, and I’m done with that.

Cait Gordon: Yeah.

Christina Robins: I don’t want it to just deal with it.

Cait Gordon: No.

Christina Robins: I want the world to be safe for all women, and all people who present as women, people who don’t fit into that perfect little cis straight box. I get so angry when I see people trying to stop people from just being themselves and living their authentic lives and being happy, because somewhere, somehow they think it diminishes them. And it’s really important for me. I have a non-binary character in Slut; they are actually her best friend.

Cait Gordon: Okay!

Christina Robins: Her best friend, right? And there’s a lot that’s said about that as well too. And I just think it’s really important for people to see authentic people instead of manufactured, this is what we—stereotypical people. I want the real, I want the ugly, I want the beautiful, I want the happy, I want the sad, I want everything—

Cait Gordon: Yes!

Christina Robins: —my characters to have.

Cait Gordon: No, I agree. Oh gosh, I don’t know if I was, this could be 30 years ago, which is weird because I’m only 35 [Christina laughs], but I, when I think was, I think I was roughly about 21-years-old, and I read some writers book about how to be a writer, and they said, “Never make your character one thing.” They’re not always all good and not always all bad, like, people are complex and write that kind of array, you know, with your character.

Christina Robins: I saw somebody put up writing advice: Don’t—and they were doing the hand-clapping, and it was a white man, and I cannot stand when white people misappropriate, you know, sort of Black culture and the hand clapping thing is a Black culture thing. So he said, “Don’t. Have. People. Drink. Coffee. At. Night,” and I was like, “There. Are. People. Who. Work. Night. Shifts.” [Cait laughs] “There. Are. People. Who. Can. Drink. Caffeine.” Like, it’s like, how dare you want everybody to be the same boring person? [laughs]

Cait Gordon: I, I—maybe they can’t cope. I can’t figure it out, personally.

Christina Robins: I just don’t understand why writing advice is always to, like, be boring.

Cait Gordon: I know!

Christina Robins: One of my mentors, Barbara Kyle, she writes historical fiction, Tudor fiction, and I’ve taken workshops with her. She’s in Guelph, Ontario, fantastic woman. Her number-one writing rule: thou shall not bore.

Cait Gordon: Oh yeah!

Christina Robins: So, that’s [laughs] how I approach it, thou shall not bore. You have to have complex, interesting characters, or there’s just no point.

Cait Gordon: So, I think we should say that officially on the In the ’Cosm podcast, we are all now going to adapt the “Thou shalt not bore.”

Christina Robins: The Barbara Kyle rule. [laughs]

Cait Gordon: Let’s make that a rule going forward forever. [Christina laughs] I think that’s brilliant.

Christina Robins: Yeah.

Cait Gordon: Gosh, you know, I’m always a little freaked out how fast these podcasts go. [Christina laughs] And I have to mention it every time so you know, deal with it, I’m mentioning it every time. But just quickly, you know, you mentioned a few authors, you talked about Virginia Woolf and such. Any other authors you’d like to recommend for reading their works?

Christina Robins: Um, well, I would 100% recommend my indie, my indie girl Maria Ann Green. I would recommend Cait Gordon. [said like Kate] [laughs]

Cait Gordon: Cait, but yeah! [said like cat]

Christina Robins: I love your sci-fi, I love it. I love your—it’s just it’s so much fun [Cait says, “Oh, thank you.”]. And let me see, who have—oh, Judith Arnopp, if you’re into a historical fiction. I’ve fallen into her Tudor stuff because I’m—the things I read, I’m such a big nerd. I mostly read like historical fiction, actual like biographies and stuff. And then when I’m actually reading for fun, it’s still historical fiction.

Cait Gordon: I love historical fiction!

Christina Robins: I mean I know, and I’d never write it, because I don’t have that knowledge, but I love I love falling into a book about Anne Boleyn. Another woman who again, was unfairly maligned. I guess even in historical fiction, I go for the women that are treated wrongly. Um, let me think, oh, I should have had like a list of people but yeah, those are those are the ones I’m reading right now: Judith Arnopp and Alison Weir. Also great to go to sleep to if you like Audible.

Cait Gordon: Yeah?

Christina Robins:  They have these wonderful—because they’re British books, they always have these women with these lovely British accents [laughter].

Cait Gordon: Oh, that’s very soothing, right? Why not?

Christina Robins: And Star Wars books. Read Star Wars books. They’re a lot of fun. The Legends books are a lot of fun.

Cait Gordon: Okay! I love asking authors this because then, like, I’m recording it and then I can listen to it and then write down [Christina laughs] If I ever don’t know what to read. I go listen to what my authors say.

Christina Robins: You’d like Claudia Gray. She writes, she wrote a Leia novel called Bloodlines, which actually leads into the how the First Order rises, so Claudia Gray is amazing.

Cait Gordon: Okay, interested, highly interested. [Christina laughs] Very cool. Okay you know what, I’m going to ask you the very last question. I can’t believe it. How did that—what? Okay! [Christina laughs] Anyway, um, so yeah, so this is the, well, it’s the last question of my list and I love asking this because I get to learn new things about people. What’s a fun fact about yourself?

Christina Robins: Um, I’ve been reading Tarot cards for 25 years. Um, probably more than 25 years now, which is weird since I’m only 25. [Cait laughs]

Cait Gordon: You just came out that womb with a deck in your hand.

Christina Robins: I don’t understand, I just came out with a little deck and you know it’s like, “AH, Death card!” Uh oh! [Cait laughs.] But no, I read Tarot cards, I read runes I’m very much—I call myself a witch. I’m very much into energy and using energy in positive ways. And yeah, I guess that’s something interesting about me that doesn’t put other people in trouble [laughter]. But yeah, I love reading Tarot cards, and I don’t charge for it, ever.

Cait Gordon: Oh wow.

Christina Robins: People are like, why don’t you charge for it and I’m like, because I don’t do it for money. I do it because someone needs help.

Cait Gordon: Oh, interesting.

Christina Robins: So I mean, yeah, so most people who come to me are usually like, I know they just need—again, and I think this ties into the whole sex worker thing—they just need someone to listen, and tell them, everything’s gonna be okay.

Cait Gordon: Yeah, for sure.

Christina Robins: That’s what most people need is that reassurance but yeah. So, that’s something I do for fun.

Cait Gordon: I mean especially these days, right? You know, my first guest was Jamieson Wolf. You need to connect with Jamieson Wolf. He loves Tarot cards, he’s got like a bajillionty decks.

Christina Robins: [Laughs] Yeah, I have like seven or eight.

Cait Gordon: I think you can have a good, fun friendship there. Thank you so much, I delighted in talking to you today. Awww, you’re just such a lovely human. I’m just so excited for everything in your life. Thank you so much for being on my little show.

Christina Robins: Thank you. Thank you for having me.

Cait Gordon: Folks, you can find Christina’s Entanglements on Amazon in paperback and e-book formats, and you can connect with her on Twitter and Instagram @mouthygurl, that’s m-o-u-t-h-y-g-u-r-l and on Facebook at You can also find the article we discussed on Christina’s author website is, that’s r-o-b-i-n-s. Transcripts for In the ’Cosm are available at That’s c-a-i-t gordon dot com. Thanks for joining us. Take care and stay safe.

(Transcribed by Edited for clarity by Cait Gordon.)

ID: Greyscale headshot of Cait Gordon, closeup, wearing a black shirt

Cait Gordon is a disability advocate who wants everyone to be wise and think of others as we battle COVID-19!

Cait is also the author of humorous space opera novels Life in the ’Cosm and The Stealth Lovers, and she is the co-editor of the Prix Aurora Award nominated anthology Nothing Without Us. When Cait’s not writing, she’s editing manuscripts and running The Spoonie Authors Network, a blog whose contributors manage disabilities and/or chronic conditions. Her latest new adventure is hosting the In the ’Cosm podcast, which is really an excuse to gush over authors she admires.

Aqua background with black text that reads: ha-ha...nah.

Sometimes Humour is Serious

Before the pandemic started (and my brain could words), I really enjoyed participating in Twitter writers chats. They’re pretty fun. Often, the first question asked is our name and the genre we write in. I almost always write something like this:

Hi, I’m Cait (like cat). I’m a humorist who writes space opera with aliens and dessert…

And this is true. I identify as a humorist who primarily uses the genre of space opera as her vehicle for writing adventures for my aliens. In my short fiction, however, I write in many genres. I discovered I could actually do this when invited to participate in ’Nathan Burgoine’s flash fiction challenge in 2018. He noted how humour gets injected into all my stories, regardless of the genre.

While I love being fun, I don’t always write lighthearted stuff. I am Irish by citizenship and culture, and I think I’ve adopted the tradition of exploring serious themes while weaving humour into the plotlines. Also, my young autistic brain growing up was always drawn to comedians and hilarious characters in fiction. Snark hooked me right in. I read MAD magazine religiously and repeatedly.

During my life, I’ve been confronted with pretty difficult trials. Humour has always been a way to help me gain power during a struggle, to lift myself out of the trenches, and/or to overcome gaslighting and ableism.

This is reflected in my writing as well. While I love when people say they have laughed heartily at the comedic elements in my work, I feel especially good when readers also notice that humour is not the only element there.

Life is full of nuance.

Even when I read works that aren’t my own, like the stories in the Nothing Without Us anthology, I don’t consider that collection something to be labelled under Humour, even though several stories use humour really well. Because I’m immersed in disabled and autistic culture, I know how strong a role humour plays in our daily lives. For some of us, it keeps us from head-desking into another dimension.

What I find to be a crying shame is when those of us who are humour authors are typecast as “vacuous.” I don’t know how many times people have thought I’m not serious enough. Could write music to it, really, and call the album: Do Your Feet Hurt When You Jump to Conclusions? When I think about all the hardships I have survived in my life, I know I can feel as serious as a stroke. Even to this day, I manage situational depression and anxiety. I also have to deal with pain 24/7. And don’t get me started about being autistic around neurotypical perceptions. Eeesh.

And I’m not alone. How many times have we noticed comedians who have admitted they deal with mental health challenges? They live with it perhaps daily in some cases and are still so bloody funny. I can’t speak for everyone, but for me humour doesn’t cure, but it lessens the sting so I can face hardships and get the help I need. It’s a respite. When I can laugh, even using twisted humour with my BFF who gets me and won’t make The Face™, then I know I’ll eventually be okay.

In my book The Stealth Lovers, Xax is reflective of me, in a way. He’s always got a quip or funny remark at hand. But when a longtime life goal of having a family gets quashed, two souls call him out. They tell him his humour is his greatest asset, but he shouldn’t use it against himself. I wrote that to remind me (and perhaps others like Xax and I) to reach out when in pain and not cover it up with jokes. Xax is probably my funniest character. Or least he’s the most fun to write. But he’s not one dimensional. Humorous people rarely are.

I’m not exactly sure why I’m writing this post. Maybe I just wanna share how I feel about my fellow comedic authors. Maybe I just want to let colleagues know not to make us into living tropes. There’s more to us than the ha-ha-ha.

We might be funny because things have been far too serious for us.

Black and white photo of Cait Gordon

Cait Gordon is a disability advocate who wants everyone to be wise and prevent the spread of COVID-19!

She’s also the author of Life in the ’Cosm and The Stealth Lovers. When Cait’s not writing, she’s editing manuscripts and running The Spoonie Authors Network, a blog whose contributors manage disabilities and/or chronic conditions. She also teamed up with Kohenet Talia C. Johnson to co-edit the Nothing Without Us anthology (now a 2020 Prix Aurora Award nominee) in an attempt to take over the world.

Space background with ringed planet. In white text: Life in Cait's 'Cosm

Noola schooled me in ’Cosm. Xax did in The Stealth Lovers!

Space background with ringed planet. In white text: Life in Cait's 'Cosm

I feel my characters in these microcosms are always trying to tell me something about myself. When I was drafting Life in the ’Cosm, I was #DisabledAndAlone, so not in community with other Disabled folks. I was frightened, completely unsure about my future. I had been a runner and worked out regularly. Then fibromyalgia pummeled me, and I could barely walk. The fatigue had made it so I could hardly do anything in a day. Frightened? I was terrified, without any comfort. Advised to do yoga.

As I said hundreds of times, I started writing ’Cosm as an exercise to take my mind off the pain. In Chapter three, I decided to create this wacky, glittery, monstery-haired person on roller skates who slams into my protagonist. Yup, enter stage left, Ms. Noola Quirk. She was so upbeat, but had no qualms about keeping things real. Her love of people and lust for life was infectious. She was also kinda silly, but in a fun way. And then my hands typed the words that identified her as disabled—with a neuropathic disease that could possibly leave her paralyzed in a few short years. Um, what?

But I didn’t delete. I just went forward with the story. When she takes the MC to a club, and he’s resistant to enter because he’s shy and feeling socially awkward, she says to him:

“Virj, there’s a time coming for me; I know it’s crouching, just waiting to pounce. I won’t be able to stand or walk by my own power, and there’s a chance I might not be able to leave my flat much, because of excruciating pain. After that, there won’t be pain. There’ll be no feeling in my legs at all. I don’t know what my life will be like then, and how I’ll manage it. Maybe everything will be fine. Maybe I’ll figure it out. But until that happens, I’m gonna grab every moment that is presented to me and savour it to the full. You can go back to the hotel if you like, but I’m inviting you to enjoy my life with me, tonight.”

Life in the ’Cosm, Chapter 12, by Cait Gordon

Maybe I didn’t have a disease that would eventually leave me paralyzed, but I did have a neuropathic pain condition that led me to believe I’d be in a wheelchair one day. At that time, I thought this was the worst fate and didn’t understand how freeing a mobility device would be. (Yay, internalized ableism!) However, I examined what Noola was saying: “I don’t know what my life will be like then, and how I’ll manage it. Maybe everything will be fine. Maybe I’ll figure it out.” These were my true feelings then. What is cool about that passage is that I did figure it out, got into Disabled culture, and everything is fine (apart from the systemic ableism, but I’m managing my mobility just fine).

Now comes, Book 2, which I guess is Book 0, since it’s a prequel. I put a lot of work into The Stealth Lovers. This wasn’t all stream-of-conscious writing like in my first book. I wanted to craft a plausible military culture to set Xax and Viv in, so we could find out how they became legendary, formidable, and fabulous!

Xax is always a blast to write. One thing that struck me about him in TSL, as I was shaping the story, was how his brain had a way of slowing everything down so he could hyperfocus during battles or even simulations. The way in which he’s skilled without it dawning on him as anything special intrigued me. He doesn’t really assume he’s that talented. He figures anyone can do what he does. And he’s not really impressed by earning accolades or by those with them. Social norms? What social norms? He’s just going to be Xax. He does care about being a warrior and will do his duty, but he’ll only respect those who are worthy of it. And he has a really strong sense of justice. You want him on your side. He’d also be least likely to fail a lie-detecting test, because he calls out BS with such relish.

I said to my BFF, “I think Xax might be neurodiverse.” Then I submitted the story to Renaissance, months before I had this almost Biblical-like revelation that I, too, am neurodiverse. I’d written it subtly through Xax here and there—my brain was probably trying to gently hint at me. Yeah…I didn’t clue in at all. Then my brain eventually got fed up and threw me into such sensory overload late last year as a way of saying, “OKAY??? ALSO: HERE’S ALL YOUR LIFE FLASHING BEFORE YOUR EYES SO YOU CAN SEE BACK TO YOUR CHILDHOOD, TEENS, YOUNG ADULTHOOD, AND UP UNTIL NOW, YOU SEXY YOUNG CRONE!!! Go call yourself autistic, tell your doctor, and let’s get on with it!”

Spoke to my BFF first, who is also autistic, and she made a “this is my surprised face” face, metaphorically. We spoke about my various traits at length. Welp, guess I was the last to know. So, nowadays I’m also tuned into the autistic and neurodiverse community, where I’m feeling validated and encouraged. I cannot get enough of the snark, too. Snark is truly life.

Anyway, thanks, Xaxxy, for sparking my brain to realize a thing. You’re an awesome pilot, dude. You’re never gonna be a diplomat, but Viv has that covered, so it’s all good. Keep being you!

Huh. I wonder what I’ll learn about myself in Life in Another ’Cosm?

Cait Gordon, in a black and white digital sketch

Cait Gordon is a disability advocate and the author of Life in the ’Cosm and The Stealth Lovers. When she’s not writing, Cait’s editing manuscripts and running The Spoonie Authors Network, a blog whose contributors manage disabilities and/or chronic conditions. She also teamed up with Kohenet Talia C. Johnson to co-edit the Nothing Without Us anthology in an attempt to take over the world. Narf.

Cait Gordon

Masking: The Fine Art of Faking Being Neurotypical

I’m autistic.

You don’t know how freeing it is to write that. Every single time I do, I feel like a little more of that burden I’ve been carrying for decades is being lifted off my shoulders. I’m one of those cases (as happens to many autistic cisgender women) where I only discovered this last year at age 49. Yup, I went my whole life knowing that my brain operated in its own way; not much at all like my friends or teachers at school, nor my work colleagues as an adult. I had a unique way of perceiving my surroundings and often wondered why people didn’t get where I was coming from.

I was on the fringes in school—the misunderstood musician. I was loud and passionate (yay for being extroverted and neurodiverse), but I didn’t understand many social constructs. If social rules made no sense to me, I dismissed them. And I’m talking about ridiculous made-up things that cause the exclusion of others. I also rebelled on a religious level at age 15. (I am not really into the adulation of “human heroes”—I don’t care how famous they are. So, I never went to see the Pope in Montreal in the mid-80s. My Catholic parents were shocked, but they didn’t stop me.)

Sensory overload and the need to withdraw into quiet spaces has probably always been there with me. With the invention of the Sony Walkman™ back in the day, I found solace in listening to music, so I could focus on a singular, comforting sound. Even today, I rarely go outside without my headphones on. However, I’ve not worn them at crowded events. The onslaught of noise from cons, for example, can make me feel like someone is beating up my brain from the inside. Last year, I had to flee, in what felt like desperation, to a place of solitude in a less populated part of a hotel at a writers’ convention. I was shaking from The Overwhelm. It never occurred to me that I needed to upgrade to noise-cancelling headphones as an aid in sensory crises.

Cait Gordon
I need my space opera, but I also need a quiet space!

This type of overload, accompanied by the brain fog associated with fibromyalgia, takes over my ability to concentrate and hear. I cannot pick out human voices very well. One time on a writers’ panel, my friend had stated their pronoun was they, and when I immediately forgot (I’m like Dory the fish), they tried whispering it to me, and I couldn’t hear it until my other friend to the right cried: “They!” How embarrassing. I have now learned the ASL for the word, by the way. And at home, the Closed Captions are always on. Human voices have been a challenge for me, again, for decades.

Most of my life I’ve pretended to hear words when I could not. Most of my life I’ve tried to blend in to the constructs around me when I figured it might be easier that way, but I could not mask that long, and my true self always came back. Sometimes I’d completely burn out from just “trying all the time.” I also cannot often accept the status quo and/or injustices. A Québecois expression roughly translated is: I don’t keep my tongue in my pocket. (Thanks to my friend Nate for that one.) It’s really difficult for me to say nothing while myself or others are being excluded, and these days my passions are focused on accessibility and the inclusion of all the humans who identify with the Disabled/Deaf/Neurodiverse/Spoonie/Mad culture.

If you meet me in person, there might be a good chance my words might seem disjointed, or I have a difficult time collecting them. My brain is constantly processing the load of chronic pain stimuli, as well as trying to navigate speech through whatever is going on with my neurodiversity on that particular day. I’m just saying this as a fact—not to incur sympathy. I do not feel sorry for myself in the least. I know I’m intelligent and that my voice matters, regardless of whether my brain is fully braining or out of spoons.

There are people who might not want our voices heard, or they want them curtailed to fit into neurotypical boxes or even into ableist perceptions of how we should be. Don’t subscribe to that. My internalized ableism has held me back for so long. It was responsible for me waiting years to get a mobility device, and it kept me masking my neurodiversity.

You can’t really fake things. Faking puts such a strain on a person and you’re basically living a lie. I totally get sometimes we mask for survival, so I won’t judge anyone who still feels they need to mask. I’ve been in that place, too. Be safe, by all means.

But if you feel you can, do connect with other autistic and neurodiverse people. There are so many on Twitter, for example. And for the most part, they are extremely supportive.

It feels good to remove the mask.

And these days, instead of faking it, I’ll say a phrase my BFF uses a lot: “My brain isn’t braining today.” That expression really works for me. Perhaps you have one that suits you even better.


Cait Gordon, in a black and white digital sketch
Cait Gordon

Cait Gordon is a disability advocate and the author of Life in the ’Cosm and The Stealth Lovers (September 2019). When she’s not writing, Cait’s editing manuscripts and running The Spoonie Authors Network, a blog whose contributors manage disabilities and/or chronic conditions. She’s also teamed up with co-editor Talia C. Johnson on the Nothing Without Us anthology (September 2019.)

Logo text that reads: Nothing Without Us in black against a white background.

Holy stars, I did a thing!

As co-editor of the Nothing Without Us anthology, this last few weeks felt as if I were handed the baton in the second-to-final lap of a relay race while I cried, “Oh crap, I need to deliver this to the last runner!”

The “last runner” being the final production team at Presses Renaissance Press.

However, the edits got sent to authors, the stories came back, and then it was time for me to assemble them into the final manuscript. Talia and I agreed that two people doing this at once wouldn’t work. Anyway, this is kind of my jam because I used to prepare publications for proofing back in the ol’ tech writing days.

But wow, are things different now. Even though I advocate for disabled folks, and this anthology is all about works from disabled, Deaf, neurodiverse people . . . somehow I forgot I’m disabled, too. It boggles the mind, I know. Silly me.

Working to a deadline while managing an unpredictable neuropathic pain condition is super fun. Because, you know, of the unpredictable part. Like when you must send off a manuscript, and the body decides to deliver 8+/10 pain levels in all the fibro icky spots. Having my fingers flare up is not exactly convenient at times like this.

Nevertheless, I got through it and sent the entire manuscript off to the Editing Manager at Renaissance this afternoon. WHOOPEEE!

Now I want to sleep until they call me Rip Van Cait.

But I did the thing!

And when I see all these words bound in a book with its wicked cover, it will all have been worth it.

Actually, when I’ll read about how excited the authors are over getting their copies, it will be so worth it.

So, in conclusion:


Cait Gordon, in a black and white digital sketch
Cait Gordon

Cait Gordon is a disability advocate and the author of Life in the ’Cosm and The Stealth Lovers (Fall of 2019). When she’s not writing, Cait’s editing manuscripts and running The Spoonie Authors Network, a blog whose contributors manage disabilities and/or chronic conditions. She’s also teamed up with co-editor Talia C. Johnson on the Nothing Without Us anthology (Fall of 2019.)