aithne: (deep thought)
I got lucky.

From the perspective of an adult, it's all too clear to me that baby Kris was weird. I read constantly and would talk--for hours, exhaustively--about anything I'd read in one of my books, but I couldn't keep up with what was going on with the people I spent all my time with. I was rarely invited to anything. You never knew what I was going to say, or do; mostly I would be the silent watcher, off in my own world, but sometimes I would be chatty and laughing up a storm.

I got picked on.

I didn't notice.

I guess when the result of a verbal jab is an owl-eyed stare and a complete lack of understanding, it's not really rewarding to repeat the attack. Tripping and pushing, too, were only so entertaining when my only reaction was to pick myself up and move on. I was a tempting target, but after middle school I was largely left alone.

Now, I was miserable, let me be clear--i did not survive my adolescence unscathed--but I had so much else going on that I just didn't have the spare processing capacity to realize that there was any reason I should be hurt. Until I was sixteen or so, I pretty much lacked the capability to empathize with people, and thus become attached to them, and thus care if they didn't like me. The other kids in school not liking me was as relevant to me as someone telling a normal person that, say, a tree doesn't like them, or a rock.

I was coping with a serious and chronic illness, severe depression caused by said illness, an auditory processing disorder, and whatever it is about my brain that makes me an alien. The acceptance of my peers was way down on my list of things to deal with; I was more concerned with figuring out how to survive as an adult on my own. (I was very concerned about this from the age of ten on, and anxious about ever being able to understand people well enough in order to hold a job. Fortunately, my brain got a bit better and I developed coping strategies. And then someone was kind enough to invent the Internet.)

Eventually, during my sophomore year of high school, I was eating my lunch (alone, with a book, as I preferred it--school was a series of interruptions in my reading day, after all) someone from one of my classes came up and asked me why I was eating alone.

I blinked. "Because I like to read." I wasn't quite sure what he was asking; I hadn't noticed it wasn't normal to eat alone.

"Well, you could come sit with us and read."

"Nah, that's okay." And I went back to reading.

He came back the next day, and the next, and eventually I started sitting with them at lunch. Not every lunch--there were days when people just weren't worth the bother, and I'd go out to the ball field and enjoy isolation for a bit--but when I was gone for more than a few days, one of the group would be dispatched to bring me back. By the time I was a senior, we'd staked some prime territory on the outdoor stage, despite the fact that we were all a bunch of weird geeks.

Like I said, I got lucky. It's not something I can say very often, that what is broken about my brain protected me, that my complete lack of understanding of human beings as anything other than a series of complicated and contradictory rules kept me from becoming anything other than a minor target. Looking back on it, though, I have to say it did. Other than having to repeat a math class because the boy who sat in front of me was constantly whispering at me, preventing me from being able to understand the teacher, the jabs were kept to a minimum. I think. There is a possibility that there was a lot going on that I didn't notice, or don't remember.

There's nothing redeeming in there, no life lessons I can share, no advice for bullied kids or anyone else. There's a certain part of the human experience that I just didn't get, and some parts of it that I have an intellectual but not emotional understanding of. I didn't long for connection; I got it anyway, at least as much as I was capable of.

Are we blessed, who live in ignorance? I don't know. I never have.
aithne: (purple hair)
I am pretty darned faceblind, though in the normal course of events I'm not particularly impacted by this. Sometimes, though, something happens to point out to me that I am actually missing a significant section of human-brain firmware. Tonight was one of those times. We went to see The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus.

For those who aren't clued in (as I was not), Heath Ledger died during the making of this movie. His part was played, variously, by Johnny Depp, Jude Law, and Colin Farrell, supposedly depicting transformed versions of the character in various parts.

I didn't notice.

I saw that the character was somehow distressed by some change in his features. That, I got. But the guy's hair, clothing, and moustache were the same, and therefore it was the same character, and had to be played by the same person. I literally did not remember what he had looked like in the previous scene; I had no face stored to compare his new face to. In fact, when I did notice something had changed, I thought it might be the moustache. Evidently, these men look pretty significantly different from one another; I couldn't pick any one of them out of a crowd if they were in normal clothing.

I see faces, and over the years I've trained myself to recognize the various markers of emotion on them. I remember parts of faces that belong to people I'm close to. But I rely on significant non-facial markers to tell me who people are. (I also do not recognize voices.) Humans, generally, are wired for faces. I am not missing that wiring entirely, but the wiring isn't hooked up quite correctly.

It's a little odd to have had that pointed out to me so strongly, and in a way I can't explain away.
aithne: (avatar_braids)
So I was dreaming about trying to get on an airplane, and there was a problem with my ticket. (I don't remember what, some computer glitch, it seemed.) So I was hanging around in the waiting area with Bryan and Laura and Storm and Jen, and we were having a good time despite the fact I might not get on the plane.

And then they brought out the pilot, who was a new one being swapped in. The new one had green hair and big piercings, and the person who was announcing him said that he had a punk band when he wasn't flying. "And now, introducing our co-pilot, acclaimed SF author Connie Willis! She's a part of our exchange program, we send our pilots to learn how to write and authors come and learn how to fly planes. Everyone give a big round of applause for Connie Willis!"

Strangely enough, nobody seemed to be worried that the plane was going to be flown by a punk rocker and a writer. :)
aithne: (deep thought)
[part of an extremely intermittent series.]

You would think, given the way my brain is wired, that I would be a poor reader, and an even poorer writer. One of the challenges that people with CAPD usually face is learning to read, because they can't depend on their auditory center to relay information to them consistently. The usual methods of teaching reading and writing, using phonetics, just don't work well for them.

I figured out early on that the printed word held secrets that I desperately needed to know. And one of the best things that my parents did for me, reading-wise, when I was very young was buy me a couple of the Richard Scarry books that have pictures illustrating single words. One of them, a Richard Scarry word book, became my favorite book. Here, I knew, was the key. It was a Rosetta stone for me. It had to be, because I still wasn't a very good talker, and though my folks did read to me I wasn't very good at following plots, even simple ones.

But that book, oh the love I had for that book for years. Building off of simple nouns, I started looking at other books, relating pictures to words. Like almost any skill I acquire, when I got it, I got it, whole and entire. I didn't have a good grasp on what the individual letters sounded like, but I could read and understand street signs, some of the newspaper, the backs of cereal boxes, and so on.

I kept this a secret from my parents; even at such a young age, I didn't really want to tell them anything. My mom was surprised when her friend, the mom of one of my friends, mentioned offhand that I'd been reading the newspaper. I was 4 or thereabouts, and I was starting to realize that words, unlike spoken language, stayed in one place, and if I didn't understand something I could re-read it without having to ask someone to repeat themselves.

This was a revelation, and it made me even keener to get farther into reading. When I went to kindergarten, I clearly recall workbooks designed to teach reading phonetically. I especially remember the G book, because Gretel was in her Garden with a Goat behind a Gate. This was somewhat useful even though I did already know how to read, as it gave me enough repetition that I did start to pick up a bit of phonetics, which would help some later, and it helped with a lot of the locational prepositions, which I'd had difficulty with in the beginning. ("Over" and "under" are nearly the same shape, as are "in" and "on"! Very confusing.) But, really, I was mostly bored and wanting to move on to some actual stories.

The thing that had happened at this point, the thing that helped me bridge the gap between the wordless country and the country of words, was that written language became an entirely separate thing from spoken language. The two had nothing to do with each other at all. I had some limited facility to translate, when required, but for me, words are associated with shapes, with weights, with textures. When I was writing poetry on a regular basis, I was playing with those things, not the sounds of language itself. Which is why, in retrospect, so much of my poetry is utterly unmelodic.

I read very, very quickly, and largely this is because text goes in the visual processing mechanism and never touches the auditory. Reading isn't like listening to someone speak, one word at a time; instead, the whole paragraph goes in and is processed at once, relevant shapes are dropped out, and the eyes move on to the next paragraph, often while the former paragraph is finishing up processing. At its best, reading fiction is an immersive, nonlinear experience. What is written in the book is what is happening, and I am completely unaware that I'm reading.

Writing is the same way. I slip inside of my characters' skins, watch what's going on around them, feel what they're feeling, smell what they're smelling. Then I write. I choose words for the feel they create, for the textures they have. Punctuation, also, is chosen by feel. There are a thousand different ways to arrange every thought, and my job is to figure out which one feels right for that particular situation.

The only time I really "hear" what I've written is during editing, when I'm concentrating on reading slowly and seeing every single piece of text. Even then, it's not a voice, but a visual analysis of what's going on in a sentence, where errors "pop out" at me and places where I've stumbled, writing-wise, feeling like obstacles in my path.

A phrase that comes up for me a lot is "the silent world speaking". That sums up the way language works in my head, the image of an entire world full of silence giving up its secrets, stone by stone. Everything is weight and texture and temperature and meaning. What I always try to get across, and never feel as though I quite manage, is that this "voice" isn't a voice at all. It really is silent. You can't listen to the silent world. You have to perceive its meaning through experience, through seeing, through feeling, through movement. Do you know a tree until you've climbed it, tasted its bark, smelled its leaves, weighed its seeds in your hands?

Stone by stone, the silent world gives me its gifts, and from the silent world I go to the country of words, where alchemy is done with syntax and grammar, to give me something that I can take out into the world of noise with me, something that I hope other people can understand. I've learned how to deal with the world of noise on its own terms, as it demands, but it takes a lot out of me and I'm never as successful as I might hope.

I would not give this up, though, even if I could. The world of noise could not possibly offer any compensation great enough for me to want to live there full-time. I communicate well enough for me, and usually for those around me. So I keep shuttling between the silent world and the country of words, and life's good.
aithne: (all fun and games)
I do things sometimes quite deliberately to feed my tactile and kinesthetic sense, to deliberately give my hands a lot of input and an outlet for restlessness.

One of the very best "feed the hands" activities is making little sculptures. I've done it in play-dough for years, but a few years ago discovered Model Magic, which is like play-dough on crack. I have no idea what it is, but it feels like damp foam rubber and it's not only got a wacky texture but it's actually quite easy to do some interesting things with. Plus, you can't use a little and save the rest for later, you have to use the whole package once you open it up, so I have an excuse to go wild with it.

I got out my last pack of black Model Magic the other day, and made dragons. And a lady.

I generally don't keep my critters, because it's really more about the process of feeding the senses than making something I want to keep, but I think I'll keep her. She's nifty in a kind of weirdly featureless and crude way. Oh, yes, and that's a toothpick she's holding. I had some toothpicks around to provide support during drying, and I decided she wanted to hold one of them.

I think it's a lady.  She has...a toothpick.

"lazy"

Jun. 28th, 2006 04:55 pm
aithne: (tree)
My father's favorite thing to castigate me with when I was young was the fact that I was lazy.

Now, to be fair, I was not the person I am today. I was fairly un-fond of the things my dad wanted me to do, and compounding this was the fact that my parents would ask me to do something, I would nod and say, "of course", and then as soon as they were gone I would completely forget whatever it was they'd wanted me to do, and thus wander off, leaving whatever it was undone.

But. (There is always a but there, isn't there?)

From the time I was about nine years old, I was sick. Movement hurt in ways I never had the ability to explain, and I wandered around surrounded by fog that nobody else seemed to be able to see. I concentrated what little energy I could muster on small things--obsessively re-organizing my box of animal cards, rearranging my closet, playing with tiny animals, reading. Schoolwork was tedious but mostly doable, though if it involved memorization, I was hopeless at it. I'm not sure that me being lazy really had anything to do with the fact that I didn't want to do much of anything as a kid.

As I've gotten older and my hypothyroidism is under control, I've turned up an entirely new side of myself. This side of me is not lazy. This side of me gets up at ungodly hours of the morning and goes for runs, likes cleaning, goes for hikes...the list is very long indeed. I don't think much about deliberately parking far away from the door of somewhere I'm going, about going out in all weathers, or taking the bus somewhere that I know that parking's going to be terrible. I make bread by hand (because hand-kneading is fun!). When I sit down, it's usually to write.

Laura observed a while ago, with some amusement, that the only time I ever watched TV was when I was folding laundry. Which is true, as the idea of sitting down to watch TV is really sort of strange to me these days. I do all right during TV night, because that's a gathering sort of thing, but even then I sometimes feel compelled to write while I'm watching TV. Folding laundry is the perfect TV activity (when I was living without TV, I would watch a movie on Saturday afternoon, which was laundry time, and fold laundry) because it is mindless, keeps the hands busy, and you do it in an upright position.

Part of this is probably my upbringing, where being lazy was in fact one of the worst possible things you could be. If we could walk or ride our bikes somewhere, rides were generally not forthcoming unless the weather was inclement...and this was California. These are the habits that stick with you lifelong.

And part is that I’m just someone who likes having things to do; sitting down and relaxing isn't my thing. I'm much more relaxed working on something I really want to do than I am just trying to take life easy. The concept of having nothing to do is one I have a very hard time with. Surely, there's something to do. A book to read, a story to write, something that needs cleaning, weeds that want pulling, a list that needs making, something. I admit that I sometimes get sucked into frivolous pastimes--video games being the single biggest culprit in this--but usually I find something to putter away on.

I'm trying to learn how to relax and do nothing. It's hard. Really, really hard. I don't know how people do it, just sit and watch time pass. I feel precious seconds, minutes, hours slipping away, life I'll never have again. We're here for so little time, and I have so many things I want to do.

Maybe someday, I’ll learn how to relax. I kind of doubt it, however.
aithne: (Default)
(This one originally came from [livejournal.com profile] corivax, but [livejournal.com profile] tylik reminded me of it.)

Care and Feeding of Your Kris )
aithne: (Default)
I have to say, I lucked out in many respects with the family I was born into. My mother is an inveterate reader and was, when I was a wee sprout, something of an accumulator of books. She was also in school when I was young, which led to some very interesting books taking up residence in our attic.

This is how I discovered psychology, and linguistics, and anatomy, among other things. One of the things I was drawn to when I was reading about learning styles was the description of kinesthetic learners. I got excited when I first read the description, thinking, "hey, that's like me!"

Then I read the checklist of signs that you're a kinesthetic learner, and sighed. I fit almost none of them. I looked at the visual learner checklist, and I fit more things there. It didn't feel quite right, but it was okay. I closed the book and went about my business, having acquired a new classification for myself: "visual learner".

What I didn't know then, and wouldn't until later, is that the checklist is just a suggestion.

this gets long, right through here... )
aithne: (Default)
It has been noted, in the past, that I am incredibly bad at arithmetic. Numbers are not my friends; they are mean and nasty and spiky and things. [livejournal.com profile] zaratyst was explaining tonight about how addition and subtraction is all based on 10s, which I find to be a fascinating concept that's very difficult for me to wrap my head around. For whatever reason, in my head 10 isn't a special number. 12's a very special number, though, and I seem to do much the same thing with 12 that most people do with 10. 10 has a 0 in it, which makes me nervous, because 0's an empty spot that I might fall into if I'm not careful. 12's a lot more stable. Things add to make 12, and multiply to make 12. 12 is made up of 3s and 4s, and sometimes 6s. 18 is also a good number, because it feels a lot like 12 in that whole "made out of 3s and 4s and 6s" sort of way.

Obviously, I have damage around arithmetic. Oddly enough, I'm reasonably decent at higher math, enough to the point that I actually enjoy it.

However, I have some really bizarre metaphors for math. One of them is the balloon metaphor.

(I will note here that this is an entirely alien thought process for most people I know. [livejournal.com profile] mholmesiv's native language is math, and seems to find this an extremely disturbing metaphor. My native language is image and motion, though, and this is what happens when someone with that native language tries to do math.)

Let's take a simple equation:

2x + 3 = 21

(Yes, very, *very* simple.)

Okay. The equals sign means that the two sides are equivalent. Realistically, both sides are the exact same size.

But one side looks different from the other. One side, as a matter of fact, has significantly more thingies in it than the other.

The object of algebra is to get the thingies on both sides to come out more or less the same size.

In this case, the thingies on one side are 2, x, and 3. 21 is a thingie all on its own, not two thingies. Because of the rules of algebra, the only thing in the equation that can't actually be mutated or destroyed in the process is x.

To think like I do, think of those thingies on either side of the equation as being enclosed by balloons. They're connected by a straw--the equal sign. You're not allowed to open up the straw or the balloons and let thingies out. There are a few more rules:

1. Things move through the straw, aka the equals sign. However, to get something to move through the straw, it has to be in a discrete bit. (For instance, 2x or 3 could move, but not 2 or x by themselves.)
2. if you do multiply-y or divide-y things to one side, you have to do them to the other. Can't stick one of them in the microwave without getting them both.
3. And when you move something through the straw, it always ends up as the Opposite Land version of itself--negative if it was positive, positive if it was negative.

The actual mathematicians reading this at this point have just had their brains completely broken. Sorry about that. Note that I don't think this is a good way of doing this, it's just how it works in my head. This is something I came up with out of self-defense, and got me through several years of math.

Okay, let's use the Kris Brain and the balloon metaphor to solve the equation.

2x + 3 = 21

Now, I start poking. Moving 2x seems counterproductive at this point. That 3, though...okay. I pat the balloon that has the 3 in it, making it a bit smaller, squirting that 3 over to the other side of the equation. In the process, 3 gets turned inside-out and becomes -3.

So you get:

2x = 21 + -3

Of course, the 21 and the -3 kind of bump around in the balloon a bit. Give it a good shake, and suddenly they realize they were meant to be together.

Bam, you have 2x = 18 !

Okay, Now all that's standing in the way of the balloons being the same size is that 2. We can get rid of that!

Now, when you want to multiply or divide the balloons, you can't poke or pat the balloons. Sterner measures are called for! We must make the equation not big enough for the 2!

For reasons that I can't properly explain because it's 10:30 PM and I've had a couple of drinks tonight because we went out to celebrate me finishing the book, it's a lot easier to think of division as simply multiplying by the fraction that's the inverse of the number you're trying to squish. So, dividing by 2, you're really multiplying by 1/2.

And to multiply by 1/2, and make the equation not big enough for that 2, you've got to make the balloons smaller. So what do you do? You stick them in the freezer! (If you're multiplying and you actually make one or both of the sides bigger, you've just stuck the balloons in the microwave. Or the oven.)

So, you have something like this:

1/2 x 2x = 18 x 1/2

(If I were doing that on paper, I'd just draw a line under each side and put a 2 under it. It makes it easier to see. You get to cross things out, that way!)

1/2 times 2 is 1. 18 times 1/2 is 9. The equation has just been stuck in the freezer, and both sides just got smaller.

In fact, they've gotten small enough that they've just been reduced to irreuducability!

x = 9

Yay! Both sides of the balloons are now exactly the same size, and they're as small as they can possibly get! All done!

Now, the thing about this metaphor is that it's irresistibly physical. Not just physical, but kinesthetic. There's a lot of motion in here, a lot of poking and patting and squeezing, and there's even temperature in it. In my head, a really complicated equation starts out as feeling very big and very, very hot.

And so, during math class, I would be utterly silent while working on problems, but my hands would be very busy indeed. They were up in the air in front of me...patting invisible balloons. That was how I tried different things on the equations to figure out if they would work before I committed the process to paper. I could see and feel those balloons in front of me, and working them over with my hands helped me get a grip on how to actually solve the problem.

Of course, I drove everyone sitting around me utterly batty. And the teachers kept on trying to get me to stop it, on the perfectly reasonable grounds that it was distracting to the other students, especially during tests. Only, without the ability to pat the balloons, I took about three times longer to work problems during tests, because without the feedback of my fingers feeling whether the equation was getting bigger or smaller, or if it was getting usefully bigger (because sometimes you have to make the equation pretty big and add in a lot of thingies before the structure is in place to get it smaller), I was reduced to using a hell of a lot of scrap paper trying to keep track of all of the different tactics I was trying. If I couldn't do the motions, if I couldn't take the equation in my hands and actually grasp it, it was very difficult for me to do it at all.

I finally managed to learn how to pat the balloons in my head, but it took me a couple of years. I have other, different metaphors for geometry (most of them having to do with bending and twisting things)--but every single one of my mental mappings for math is very, very physical. The other things I do are also somewhat physical--words have shapes in my mouth, like marbles, and something out of place is bumpy; when I organize things, the object is to get every single thing into a place where I feel comfortable with where it is--but math is far and away the thing where this shows up very, very strongly.

And the strangest thing is that, overall, the visual side of my nature is so strong that it simply drowns out the kinesthetic sense. I have these two very strong drives living side by side, and in the end it became easier for me to simply slave the kinesthetic drive to the visual, so they could work in concert.

One of these days, I'll make a post where I'll theorize about how someone so excruciatingly wordless becomes a writer. But I don't think that post is going to be made tonight.
aithne: (purple hair)
Evidently, I am good at haunting people.

It's one thing when the people you have unfinished business with are dead; they've *stopped*, they will never change again. In that case, it's pretty clear that you're going to have to do the heavy lifting of forgiveness yourself.

It's different when your ghosts are still alive.

I've had the experience a few times in the last few months of coming face-to-face with my afterimage in someone else's mind, people busy fighting a war with me that I walked away from, in one case, over a decade ago. It's a rather disorienting experience, really. I can look at those afterimages, read the stories, and recognize myself in them; but it's a version of me that's not me any more.

To them, I am a symbol, a scapegoat, a way to avoid taking responsibility for their own shit. I am the ghost in the living room, the presence that haunts them as they try to live their daily life. I am an image of myself, a perfect picture frozen at whatever moment they last saw me.

I am uneasy about what lessons I'm supposed to take from this. Yes, I know I've hurt people, acted in a very childish manner long after I really ought to have been an adult. I've taken responsibility for my own shit, and I've worked through it. Nobody held a gun to my head and said, "Behave in this awful manner!", and I don't blame anyone for my damage.

In one case, my ghost is a 20-year-old me, still rife with depression, still nutty as a fruitcake and still trying desperately to hide the fact. It saddens me that that girl exists anywhere at all, because she is in a tremendous amount of pain.

It's so strange that these things that are over and done with in my own head could still be happening inside of theirs, that the picture of me they carry could still be so very real to them. I could forgive them; walk into their lives briefly and tell them, "I've set this baggage down, long ago. You might want to try doing the same."

Would that do anything, though? Would it mean anything coming from the me who is me now, not the me they have in their heads? They own the image of me they keep, I can't make it forgive them. And I think that image is the one they need forgiveness from.

It's the one I needed to hear from, at least.

But the only way I was able to hear from those ghosts was to finally, finally lay down my conception of my internal life as a war I was constantly fighting, trying to win. To lay down my arms and say, "I am done fighting this. This is my damage, and nobody but me will be able to fix it, and I can't fix it while I'm still fighting this." I thought that surrendering meant I would lose.

What it really meant was that winning and losing lost their meanings, and one by one I swam through each of the memories, accepting that I am a deeply flawed person who has acted in some truly awful ways, reading through the reasoning for each of those actions and realizing where the problems were in that reasoning. For each one, I needed to forgive myself and the other person.

Would it have helped to have the people behind the ghosts come forward and say, "I forgive you"? I don't know, because none of them did.

So I remain silent. If they wanted to hear from the me who is me now, I'm incredibly easy to find. And I can't be the me who was me then for them. That's something they have to own.

And so: what is seeing this trying to teach me? What lessons do I take from this? I don't know, yet.

Maybe it's just supposed to be that, as much as I sometimes think I can, I never disappear from the life of anyone I touch, and the only time when people go away forever is when they die. I don't leave a hole behind me when I leave but an image, a presence rather than an absence. I don't go away. I just stop moving.

Maybe it's not that at all, something else I haven't thought of. Who knows?
aithne: (writing)
I never thought of myself as the sort of person who liked deadlines. I hated them in school, actively rebelled against them by turning some work in way early and other work very, very late.

It turns out, as an adult, that what I hate is deadlines imposed by other people.

I use deadlines all the time. I keep a running list of writing tasks and a date I need to have them done by. For instance, I have two stories I need to finish writing and editing by next Tuesday. I have a chapter to edit, which is overdue (I was supposed to have it done last weekend, but ended up playing Dungeon Siege instead of writing), but I've adjusted the deadline in my mind to accommodate unexpected video game obsession. A little farther out, I have the next chapter and a rewrite of The Fox-mask to do--the latter die by the beginning of next month, the former by the middle of the month.

When I'm doing gaming writing, my deadline is to have a recap posted no later than the Tuesday following a game, and preferably by Monday evening. I am always running on deadline; I seem to need time pressure to get anything done in a timely fashion.

The nice thing about deadlines imposed by myself is that they're flexible when they need be. Things like the aforementioned video game obsession come up. Sometimes, what I'm doing isn't working, or something needs far more editing than i usually do on finished work. (Also the case on the chapter; I ended up digressing for a good chunk of it, and went back and took out about 1k words and then rewrote around the holes. The process is almost finished and I'm probably going to be finished before the deadline.) Other people's deadlines are often not so much with the flexibility.

As long as the motivation comes from within me, I’m good. All I have to do is remember that, and make sure I don't start relaying on other people to provide my motivation for me.
aithne: (purple hair)
This is a brain dump; I'll modify it later, in large part because there's just too much stuff. Nobody has this kind of time, certianly not me. :)

Priorities:

1. Work on getting more exercise and eating better.

This one seems to fall on and off my list of priorities, depending on how much sleep i've been getting lately. I need to think about some reasonable goals to work on. When i have the goals in mind, then I can figure uot my next actions.

2. Write, write, write.

A perpetual favorite. In specific, I want to finish The Ice Rose, edit/rewrite The Blood Lily, do a rewrite/edit on The Ice Rose, write the first chapter of the next book in that series (and outline the rest), and start on a new book. I think the Victoria book really wants to be written next.

I also want to start on getting at least two new short stories done a month (unrelated to any gaming stuff i'm doing), whether flash fiction or something longer. i'd like to get 4 or 5 new Mouse stories done, but I'm not going to definitely commit to that. I need to find some Mouse music, for starters.

3. Get published.

I've got the physical things I need for this now, and all i need to do is decide what stories should go to which markets, study up on manuscript formatting, and start sending things out. Also, I may well see what I can do about getting the books i've been working on edited/published. I'm not entertaining any fantasies that someone will see them, love them, and declare them perfect, but I feel like I owe it to the manuscripts to at least give them half a chance.

Sub-goal of #3: figure out the book pitch for that series. Preferably *before* I start doing edits and rewrites.

4. Start carrying my camera around with me again. Get back into the habit of thinking like a photographer.

I'm not making any promises as regards to portraiture (since doing portrait sessions requires things like coordinating schedules and setting aside time for stuff) but what I can do is start carrying my camera around with me again. I need to get my camera case a smidge less bulky, but it'll fit into my bag now.

5. Simplify my time-scheduling mechanisms.

Honestly, I've got too many things to keep track of on too many systems. I need to decide on one or maybe two master locations (work and home) and then have everything branch off of there. I'm actually thinking about going paper-based for my home schedule; it worked for me before I had Outlook, it might work for me again. Unfortunately, the thing I *was* going to do now won't work because I have Server installed on my main machine at work, and the Palm syncing mechanism simply doesn't work on Server. What I *can* do, if I can ever get it to work, is sync my iPod with my Outlook calendar at home. I haven't quite gotten it to work yet, and I'm not sure why, but I'll fiddle with it.

6. Look into the possibility of using OneNote as a writing idea capture device.

I love OneNote; it makes taking notes during gaming very easy, and I can always flip back through previous sessions to find information I've forgotten. I think there are some more layers of organization I can put on to make things a bit more streamlined, and then I won't have story ideas scattered here and there on peices of paper and my whiteboard.

7. Continue to develop the idea of starting my own business.

This goal boils down to actions in three categories: administrative setup, education, and reputation. There are specific actions I need to take in order to get the business side of the business going. There are classes I need to take and books I need to read in order to get the education required. And I need to build a reputation, which can be done in several different ways--writing and submitting articles to various places, starting a blog specifically about my topic, and starting to do pro bono work for friends and neighbors.

8. Create an easily maintainable online portfolio.

This one's a little more nebulous, in large part because I don't have much beyond some vague ideas on what needs to be done. It's a big project, and it's the sort of thing I absolutely love doing once i have something, anything defined for it. This one's going to require a bit of tech fiddling, because I want to do it in XML.

9. Write letters.

I love writing letters, short and long. When i'm traveling, I generally take along some stationary, stamps, and pens, and catch up with my correspondence with friends and relatives. I haven't lately, in large part because most of the trips i've taken this year have been me doing a lot of driving (and I just plain old forgot stationery when I went to CA).

I'd like to pick this back up again; it needs to start with a case for writing gear and a list of people who I'd like to write to. My grandfather, for one, would like to hear more from me, i'm sure. Getting real mail is so wonderful, and I like to share the love.
aithne: (purple hair)
This came up the other night when I was out to dinner with Bryan and Laura. We went to our favorite sushi place and had, as usual, the sushi chef Mel make for us whatever he felt like. He remembered my name this time.

At one point during dinner, Laura asked me if I wanted to order some hamachi nigiri, which is easily my favorite kind of nigiri. I was like, "No, that's okay." She said, "But it's your favorite! How is Mel ever going to know you like hamachi if you don't order it."

I said, "I'll tell you later."

The truth is, I hate being a "regular" anywhere. I prefer the safety of anonymity when i can get it. At one point, i was working in Fremont and went to the Starbucks there every day or two for while. The day that i walked in and had the barista wave at me and ask "the usual?" was the last day i went to the coffee shop for six weeks. Then I went again, hoping they'd forgotten me, and they still remembered me but not what I ordered. I stayed away for two months and, when I went back, went at a different time of day. I was careful to always order different things, and i didn't go very often, so they never remembered who i was again.

The thing is, when you're a regular somewhere, they know your name. And, terrifyingly, you're expected to reciprocate. You're expected to make small talk. You're expected to smile at them.

I didn't recognize the woman at the starbucks who asked me "the usual?" except in a very vague way. I ran into one of my Curves instructors at the mall right before I moved, and even though I'd seen her every other day for a year, I didn't have the faintest idea who she was. People who can remember people amaze me. For me, until I actually sit down and get to know someone, they're a blur. I don't see them really well because I have no context that makes sense out of them.

I don't want Mel the sushi chef to know i like hamachi, because it feels like a weird invasion of my privacy. He's a stranger.

Text is so much easier. Text messages and writing come with names attached. I like that. Contextless social interaction is really hard. I end up getting it wrong, a lot. I answer the wrong questions because i'm working off a different script than they are.

But for the moment, i'm going to review yesterday's writing and finish my bottle of water, then get started on earning a bunch of shinies.

(Also, Esme is doing laps of the backyard. Such a strange cat.)
aithne: (Default)
[livejournal.com profile] zaratyst and I were discussing how our respective brains work. The inside of her mind, she says, is structured like a hierarchical file system, with information about what memories are contained in the files and folders that it's contained in, indexed for easy retrieval.

I'm fascinated. My head doesn't look like that at all. Let's take the music game we play in the car as an example. (Bryan has Sirius Radio in his car; we wander up and down the dial and guess what songs are playing before looking at the display to see if we're right.) When Laura's identifying something, she categorizes the memory--she chases it down through its categories, from genre to time period to more specific information, and zeroes in on the name of the band and often the song name.

Me, I rebuild the context in which I have listened to the song the most. Is it on an album I own? If so, what color is the album cover? What flavor does my memory of the song have? Who was around? Did I ever hear the name of the band mentioned? Do I know anyone for whom this is their favorite song? If so, what bands do they like? In a lot of cases, I'll have heard the song before and be able to recontextualize it exactly, but realize that nodoy ever told me what the band name was.

My memory is a crystalline, 3-d structure. I don't go into it; I lay my "hands" on its surface and call the memories upward, and they unfold around me. What i have a lot of trouble figuring out how to describe is how nonverbal memory works in my head. I get the sense that a lot of people tell themselves stories about their memories; they reduce things into words for easy storage and retrieval. At the very least, they tag memories with words and more words; "this is the time when I" "this is how I felt when". I don't do that. A summons goes out and the memories come up around me, in full color, sight, smell, motion. I can walk into almost all of my memories and relive them as if I were there. I don't, usually; mostly, the unexpanded fractal is enough to let me know what information the fractal contains. (Think of it as the memory in minature--speeded up, smaller, leached of color. Touch it and it blossoms into the full memory.)

This is extremely useful when i'm writing, becuase not just memories work that way--things i'm imagining work that way, too. I close my eyes and think of a place and I'm there, things are happening around me and i'm watching them and listening to them. It contributes to my sensation that I don't write so much as report on things that are actually happening in another place and another time. My only limit is my powers of description.

However, it is not extremely useful for things like remembering what to get at the grocery store. Wandering up and down the aisles often works better if I don't have a list, because as I see things around me i contextualize them automatically, remembering when I last used an egg, the last time I bought butter, if I saw onions in the bin last time I opened it. (Having a list is the very best thing, however.)

I really ought to use the time I'm not going to be working to get myself organized once again. I used to cope with this aspect of my brain a lot better than i do now; I should look into some of the strategies i used and pick them up again.
aithne: (dogwood)
(ranging from the improbable to the impossible to the "not a good idea" to the "just haven't had time yet"...)
a cut, just for *you*! )
aithne: (Default)
This has been discussed in real life, but I find it amusing enough to note here: I have problems with directionality.

This is in large part because a) the way I'm facing is the way I've always been facing, and the fact that it may be a different physical direction has no real bearing on me, and b) I spend too much time thinking of things from multiple directions at once.

For instance, clockwise. Clockwise is one way, if you're facing the clock. It's another way if you're behind the clock, or if you *are* the clock. another way if you're directly under the clock.

And how about "righty tighty, lefty loosy"? I mean, really. Okay, first, because things that obey that rule are always round, the concept of "right" and "left" have no actual *meaning*. Seriously. For instance, take a jar of pickles, and put two dots, one at 9 o'clock and one at 3 o'clock. Open the jar. Watch which direction the dots are moving.

The dot at 3 o'clock, which represents the bottom arc of the object, is indeed moving left.

The dot at 9 o'clock, representing the top arc of the circle, is moving to the right.

The jar lid is moving in both directions at once, thus making the rule of thumb useless.

Don't even get me *started* on number lines and where exactly one cuts them.

In my brain, there are no actual directions, because I perceive the space around me as a sphere. Left and right and up and down have little to no meaning even as ranges, much less discrete directions. Yes, down's where gravity is (and up's where gravity isn't), but what if you're standing on a slope? Down might actually be both kind of down and to the left, too. And if you're lying on the ground, then down can definitely be to the left, to the right, in front of you, or in back of you, depending on how you're lying. (down can also be up, if you're in space, or if you're me and are a little bit too stoned.)

All in all, I am really very useless at giving and taking directions. Thankfully, cars are designed to have the turn signals correspond with the way you're going to turn the steering wheel with that hand when you make the turn you're indicating, so i rarely mess that up. (See, up and down are left and right like that, too. Er. i think it's the other way around, actually.)

What I'm saying, here, is that sometimes being the kind of person who thinks about these sorts of things makes life a bit weird.

(Also? Must stop looking at the Sundance catalog. Must, must, must.)
aithne: (deep thought)
"People don't have to be on fire to be shiny."

[From a discussion of needs for drama and the proper channeling therof; and also in the way of explaining some of my more interesting choices of people to date. I'm a magpie; I like shinies. I'm finally learning how to look past some of the sorts of stuff that catches my eye.]
aithne: (Default)
I had one of those perfect moments this morning.

I was on the 25, and it was pulling up to my stop in the U District. I was moving towards the door, and fighting the deceleration. Just as he was just about pulling to a halt, I gave into the momentum.

I chirped, "Thanks!" as I quite literally sailed past him, grabbing the bar in front of the door and using that to swing down to the second step, and from there I bounced and soared off into the morning, executing a perfect landing a couple of yards later.

It was just one of those things where suddenly I was convinced I could fly. It was perfect as I was flying through the air, i was entirely confident the entire time. No fear of messing up the landing. For one perfect moment, I fully trusted my body.

Not even having to have my car towed this morning could mar that.

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