Sunday, August 30, 2009

In-Between: Scientists Discover Portal to the Outside World...

This old picture of my mother also appears as an illustration in the excerpt, My Mother's Black Dress. Another personal writing I linked to: something outrageous I wrote in childhood, on a topic which my brother surely put me up to. I've continued to put up links to other things. As for the Perusing Psychology site, I have no special interest in the article that appears on top. But the site is quite dense, and contains links to about a dozen other psychology/ neurology sites - I like sites that are portals to a lot of information. On that note, there was a cartoon up at the Online Coffee Company: "Scientists discover portal to the outside world." The portal was a door, and outside the door were some bushes. Point well taken.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Reflection: A Metaphor for Monotropism

In She Got Up Off the Couch (and Other Heroic Acts from Mooreland, Indiana), Haven Kimmel writes of her older brother: As a small child, her brother would wheel a tombstone around in a wagon; as a teenager, he decorated his room with wall-to-wall stolen fossils. Ignoring the attention of a succession of popular girls, he ran off, at 18, with a girl who was true but 'other'.

Sounds kind of monotropic to me.

Being monotropic... it's as if you got born with a giant power cord growing out of your back. Plugged into an outlet -- a suitable obsession -- your energy is high and the level of drive and dedication can seem surreal. Unplugged... well, appliances just don't work so well unplugged.
Being monotropic can mean there are times when you're growing up that people see you lying there immobile, and imagine you need a knight-in-shining-armor. But it can be hard to be a knight-in-shining-armor to a person who runs on obsession the way an appliance runs on electricity. (It's a little like hoisting a toaster oven up onto a white horse and expecting it to start doing something.)

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Reflection: Wearing My Brother's Hand-Me-Down Genes

It seems my brother and I are destined to go through life liking the same composers and wearing the same legs... and also maybe, somewhere in the recesses of memory, loving the same book.

I was thinking about my brother -- both the similarities and the differences -- as I wrote the last post. Not much of a reader, my brother loved just two books in his adolescent years. One of them was The Young Unicorns, by Madeline L'engle. My brother and I arrived at an independent conclusion a year or two apart: that book was special - it was the book. I'm not sure whether our mutual devotion came down to shared experience or shared genes. I would say we each carried that book with us through the years, but it's not quite true. (First I lifted my brother's copy; then it fell apart.)

Dance music was big when we were kids, but neither of us like it -- except for one song, the same song, "To the Beat of the Rhythm of the Night". It was independent conclusion we both reached -- possibly during the year we actually lived apart. And then there was the matter of a certain composer, whose name I forget. The conversation began with a discussion of a 'classic' Air Supply song... The statement, " 'Out of Nothing at All' doesn't sound like any other Air Supply song," causes some people to look at me like I descended from some other planet only a few moments earlier. When I made that statement to my brother, he said, "No, it doesn't does it?" and told me the name of the composer.

Then he wanted to know whether I liked a series of other songs... "What about 'It's all Coming Back to Me Now'?" he asked. I told him I loved that song, despite not liking other songs by that singer (whose name I also tend to forget). Same composer, my brother said. He tried to explain what was unique about that particular composer's music, but I already knew.

However much may be different, and there are volumes of differences, there are hints of something shared: In an earlier post (Modeling the Latest in Hypertoic Arm Posture) there is a picture of my brother and me as little kids. Our arm posture contrasted (I was the whacky one) but by gummit if we didn't have the same legs!

And now, I might add, my brother has two little girls with the same hair as that long-ago little girl. The years fly. My older niece started kindergarten this month.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Reflection: Kitty Cat Dreams

In The Irrational Season, Madeline L'engle wrote of a student who asked her if she really and truly believed in God with no doubts at all. She replied, "I really and tuly believe in God with all kinds of doubts."

I wrote in an earlier post that I would tell the story of the 'cat dreams'. Today I will do that. I have to exert some caution in telling the story because different people interpret it differently. I think that most folks I know have some belief in anomolous communications, but some people would surely say this is irrational. I think there is something in each of us that says that can't be or else that must be - and that 'something' colors how we interpret things, from other's personal experiences to studies that attempt to be scientific and controlled. I remember in college, a professor recounted a study where people prayed for plants [mung beans?] and the prayed-for plants grew better. At the time, I was upset by the implications, and I did so want to hear about the flaws of the study! In the past ten or twelve years, I've become very interested in the science behind anomolous comunication, from dreams to prayer.

With that said... It was right after my father died, I think, that the Midnight and Seafoam dreams started. The cats I grew up with would show up in dreams that weren't even particularly about them. Considering the general illogic of the dreams, my math skills were good: "How old are you now, Seafoam? Twenty-eight?"
The dreams went on for a year and accelerated to something like one a week. One I remember well: Midnight bolted across a road as I watched, frozen. When she got across, she turned into something like a cat mascot and bear-hugged me. A few days before things came to a head with Maui, I had a dream where I was reliving the chronic illness of one of them, and taking it much harder than I had in real life (as I hadn't lived with them for years, and Maui was very much my baby by then). The last thought before I fully awoke that morning: This visit will be the last.

I walked though everything believing in God with fewer doubts than usual.

Memory: A Fictional Farewell

This post is a bit long. It contains the last scene of a story. I wrote the first draft of this scene when I was 13, and simultaneously far too young for my age and far, far too old. This was the too-old me. I still need this piece. It still speaks to me:

...The last thing I did before Ann and I left to go back to the city was say good-bye to Darwin. I held the puppy up over the porch so that his warm amber eyes shone down into mine. "Darwin, don't ever forget me," I said. I felt a breeze on me then, cooler than it had been all summer, and it brought back memories. I knew if I wasn't careful, it would carry me back where it came from: back to the fire escape, to the skating rink and the feel of warm breath on my hands at dawn. I knew when I felt it that I wasn't going to pine over Darwin forever. But the thought made me angry, and I went on recklessly: "I'll be back, you know," I said. "I'll be back every summer as long as you live, as long as I live." I was crying. "... as long as there's the earth even..."

I knew when I said the words that they weren't entirely true -- no more true than telling Germaine the things we'd do when she got out of the hospital, or making my brother promises in a language he couldn't comprehend -- or, I supposed, than telling anyone you loved that you could take care of them forever. But I loved the sound of those words. "You know what I think, Darwin?" I said, "I think you don't have to remember someone to go right on loving them."

I looked at that puppy for what might be the last time. In my mind, I could hear Ann's words: "You've touched Aaron, you've done things for him, and on some level, you've affected him." She was talking about my brother, but she could have been talking about... this dog here. For a moment, I had this image of Darwin and me, all spread out on a table like jigsaw puzzles, and our pieces were everything we'd ever been, and everyone we'd ever loved. If that much was true -- if only that much was -- then what I was saying now wasn't so much of a stetch.

I stood there a moment longer, straddling belief and disbelief, and I could feel my breath come faster. "So even if I don't come back right away, even if you have time to forget me, you better not stop loving me... You hear? Hey, dog!""

Darwin wriggled and squirmed in the sunlight.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

In-Between: The Audio Broadcasting System

Download now or listen on posterous
05 - Track 5.mp3 (8431 KB)

If I were a widget, I would advertise Joshua Kadison's Venice Beach Tracks.

I'm doing two things here: I'm posting the song "Carousel Horses" - which I downloaded free off the artist's site some time back - and I'm "conducting a test of the audio broadcasting system". I think I will have to have my own computer up and running before I can do my own audio -- read something and link to it -- but here's a haunting, lovely song. My favorite part is the "crazy lady on the bench, always looking out to sea," who saw the carousel horses get away -- "she saw them running free."

Posted via email from eveningnigh's posterous

Reflection: Hyporeactivity

Some people who read this may have memories of me, years ago, sleeping sprawled out on the couch of a 16-bedroom co-op -- a place where both the front and back doors were sometimes left open and people literally wandered in off the street. (You might want to keep that image of hyporeactivity in mind as you read this.)

Fear and excitement are both forms of arousal; from a neurochemical standpoint, they can be quite similar. People differ greatly in their response to novelty -- it's not just a matter of whether they perceive novel stimuli as positive or negative, but of the extent to which they experience an increase in arousal at all.

As for me, I'm like a stereo with a few pre-set buttons: When it comes to those stations that I've pre-set, arousal can shoot sky high; when it comes to most of the rest of the world, including most novel stimuli, arousal levels (both interest and fear) run so low they've literally left people staring at times.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Reflection: Foster Kits?

The Humane Society where I live is essentially a no-kill shelter: They have hundreds of animals in foster care. I'm not acting now, but before I select, am selected by, or commit to another pet, I may raise foster kittens for a while.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Reflection: Web Personas

I wrote in an earlier post how if there were 'endless buses across endless lakes to endless computers' there would have been days and nights this summer that I simply never came home. If I had had a computer right there at home these difficult months, my business site might have its own blog by now, and my blog might have its own... podcast.

Before I let Google crawl this site, the link to my business site will probably come down. Right now, Evening Nigh Reflections is very open about its relationship with Tote Bag Teaching, but Tote Bag Teaching is not open about its relationship with Evening Nigh Reflections. (Evening Nigh Reflections: "Why look, it's my friend, Tote Bag Teaching!! Hi, Tote Bag Teaching!!" [Vigorous arm waving.])

I think that most of us have multiple personas out in the real world, too, that some of them we're open about, and some we aren't. My belief is that while there are times it's necessary, often we're actually hiding what's real and good.

I was writing this post in my mind -- just finishing it up -- when I walked into Dollar Tree and caught, there on the loudspeaker, the final line of a song, "We keep on waiting, waiting on the world to change."

Thursday, August 20, 2009

In-Between: Misheard Song Lyrics (70's songs)

I eat a lot for a sailor!
I eat a lot 'fore I sail away!
-Loggins and Messina, "Vahevala"

Love some unsuspecting siren, on his way to not be found
-Seals & Crofts, "Not be Found"

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Reflection: Monotropism (1)

'Tropism' means leaning toward or away from a stimulus; 'mono' of course means one. Literally, monotropism means leaning toward (or away from) a single stimulus.

Dinah Murray, Mike Lesser, and Wendy Lawson suggest that people exist on a continuum ranging from polytropic (having many diffuse interests) to monotropism (having interests that are few, but intense). Those particular theorists posit that autistism occurs at the most montropic/attention-channeled end of the continuum.

I'm not autistic, but I do have monotropic...well, leanings. The Little Prince is a story the monotropic within me understands well. Of course the rose that the Little Prince has invested his time and tears in is unique in all the world (even if an ordinary passer-by thought it looked identical to 500 other roses). And of course one can find in a single rose or a single drop of water what they can't find in a garden or a well.

Reflection: Dreams (1)

I once read that if a dreaming person looked at a clock twice in succession, it would say different things each time. You mean other people can see clocks in their dreams? I thought. My visual acuity tends to be mole-like. A few times a year, I have a dream where I actually see print; those dreams tend to linger on in my mind and I file them away.

The night I read that article, I attended a dinner party in my sleep. The person next to me was looking at the clock repeatedly. It appeared she was doing a 'reality check' to see if she was awake or asleep, probably because she was trying to trigger a lucid dream.

It didn't make sense. "Why are you doing a reality check in my dream?" I asked.

I looked at the clock myself, willing it to say something, the way an awake person might try to call up a picture in their imagination. "It says... 2:00," I determined. I looked back at the clock, but this time I didn't put in the effort it would take to make numbers take on dim shapes. "It says 3:00," I announced glibly.

I determined that I was asleep, and wouldn't be for long.

Oddly, my visual acuity seemed to get better at the moment I knew I was asleep, like in The Wizard of Oz, when the color suddenly comes on. In the moment or two I before the dream faded, I walked to a corridor that led to a bathroom, and there I studied the tiles : They were large peach-colored slabs, like I had seen somewhere in waking life.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

In-Between: Google Docs

I've begun putting up links to a few writings (as Google Docs).

My business site has Google Docs sticking to it as well. I like them for kid's activity sheets and worksheets -- they print well -- plus I can access Google from any computer (whereas I sometimes have to go as far as Bellevue to catch InMotion). The search engines don't index Google Docs, but they don't mind people plastering them to websites like they were Bandaids.

You know how some versions of Microsoft Office have an animated paper clip that acts like it's your online personal assistant... it leans in to observe what you're doing periodically, then seems to scamper off. For an online personal assistant, I have an imaginary animated Google Googlie. It spends a fair amount of time observing what I am doing -- and sometimes its eyes grow large indeed -- but it is usually too polite to say anything.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Reflection: Technical Difficulties/ InMotion

Getting used to this blogger-ing thing and experiencing minor technical difficulties. All scanning, clipping, and uploading has been done at the Online Coffee/Chamomile Company, and it has worked out pretty well, except that I sometimes have to do the pictures and the text in separate sessions. Ultimately, the posts get displayed in the order I saved those first little bits of in-process work, even if it's not the order I finished them or intended to display them. That can create some tone inconsistencies on the page.

Right now, I'm running a business site and a personal one, sans computer. My business site -- link displayed there to the right (briefly) -- is done with InMotion online design software, which works pretty well, but not perfectly. I haven't figured out a way yet to use different templates on different pages -- or even different pictures within the template.

The software works at the county library, but not the city one, so just about every day I cross that lake there to the right. I don't mind that -- it's a beautiful lake, and sometimes I like to be InMotion -- but awake in the wee morning hours, I want to put up things on websites, and I can't. When I'm sad, I tend to function best doing the same thing over and over endlessly... even if it's a substitute same thing, and not where my heart is really at.

If there were endless buses crossing endless lakes to endless computers, I might just keep following them. But I need to get my computer running again. I need to go home.

PS An answer to one of those technical difficulties. This is now set -- for the moment -- to one post per page.

Memory: Modeling the Latest in Hypertonic Arm Posture

This is me at four, modeling the latest in hypertonic arm posture. Hypertonia is the opposite of hypotonia: it means it's easier to flex your muscles than it is to extend them. If you fingers curl just a bit when you relax them -- well, that's hypertonia's 'normal cousin'. When my arms dangle, it can feel like they have weights attached to them; that sense of weightedness disappears when my forearms are supported or angled upwards. Ah, but across my life, many people have interpreted as fear what is a matter of muscle tone!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Reflection: Listening to Chamomile

I never did read Listening to Prozac, but I have been listening to a glass of iced chamomile tea...

I like chamomile. It's a mood brightener, and it seems to be good at relaxing muscles. I can't drink it near bedtime, though, or it makes me hyper.

Am I making that up? I wasn't sure myself, so I asked Google. Google suggested I had a legitimate point -- some people find chamomile energizes them up at least briefly before it brings them back down.

Chamomile increases a brain chemical called glycine, which is mostly inhibitory but sometimes excitatory. (And as for how scientists knew that... they ran an experiment where people drank five cups a day of chamomile, and donated their bodily fluids regularly to science. Even a week or two after they finished the chamomile regime, they were still able to produce glycine-enriched pee.)

It's hard, sometimes, to listen to what one's brain really says, and not what it must say -- I mean, it's hard not to listen to what everybody knows. For years, I said caffeine didn't affect me, because I could drink it and go right off to sleep. But sometimes I'd go decaf, anyway, because of things I read. I mean, everybody knows caffeine is harmful to the likes of me. But then I started drinking a great beverage mix that seemed somewhat calming. What does this Super C energy drink have in it? I wondered. Apparently it has quite a bit of caffeine, among other things.

It turns out that many people have been surprised to realize that caffeine was calming them down -- and that roughly half of them have written about it on the internet. Some people say atypical reactions to caffeine are a trait marker for ADHD. I don't have ADHD -- but I also don't have brain chemistry remotely typical of... well, of some of the labels I've picked up over the years.

And isn't that the case for a lot of people?

Moody Blue Reflection: Cats with Hearts Like Valentines

-Sadness Warning: Not so Sad if You've Read Earlier Posts-

The Humane Society runs a weekly loss group where people discuss, among other things, what they could've done or should've done. Some of the people who attend that group stay on, and they become the volunteers and group leaders of subsequent years.

The Humane Society has been helpful on several occasions -- like when I saw a spider scurry across my studio, and got such a good look at it that I felt like I just had to tear through the search engine until I found it. The vet hadn't though any of my cat's symptoms were attributable to a spider bite, but there are too many uncertainties. "Sounds like a woods spider," the volunteer commented.

I was looking for an old letter that I wanted to enter into this blog -- quite un-cat-related -- when I unfolded a paper I did not mean to unfold. It was a vet report that contained, I suspected, at least small details that I'd not been told. I quickly refolded the paper, but not before I'd seen one term: 'valentine-shaped'.

A familiar phrasing, and I thought I knew what it meant, but I checked: Yes, it's a sign of pretty severe hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. Here and there are sins of omission and even comission, but it appears my cat got pretty far for a cat with a valentine-shaped heart.

On the right, there's now a link to The Ricky Fund, set up in honor of another Valentine cat.

Friday, August 14, 2009

In-Between: Linking to...

Linking to some things...

I saw a cartoon posted at an online coffee shop: "Google Opt Out features allow user to maintain privacy by moving to remote village."

I think it is generally a good idea to separate one's web personas, so before I let Google crawl this blog, the link to my professional website will probably vanish away into the mist, as if it was never there at all. But it's going up briefly, along with a link to a web page of Little Prince quotes, and a fund for feline HCM.

Generally, I won't put up my 'real' writings as blog posts -- for one thing, they tend to be too long! -- but I will probably save some pieces as Google Docs, and include a link over there to the right.

Ah, Google! I'm like the person in a recent NEA article who said she was a bit concerned about Google's reach -- but at the same time, those education apps were pretty hard to resist.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Reflection: Conversation with an Animated Search Engine

I may post sad tiding on the internet, but I don't like it when people I know post less-than-happy things. It's one of my few areas of do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do.

I have some specific phobias: specifically, bad-news phobias.

Years back, a housemate asked me how someone so anxiety-disordered could teach. I said it was simple: My family didn't have my phone number where I worked, so why would I be anxious there? Work was a relative la-la land of newlessness.

Blogs, though, are often two-way communication. So before I ventured to put one up, I had a serious conversation with an imaginary animated icon, a little Googlie...

Indeed. A little Googlie. Microsoft has an animated paper clip on some versions of its word processing software. I envision Google with its own -- maybe not an animated paper clip, but some other very animated icon.

I spent some time rehearsing things with that imaginary animated icon, specifically my expectations regarding its networking habits. I made sure it knew not to give out any personal information. I told it I didn't want a comment box just yet, either, and that I prefer it not to take subscriptions.

The imaginary animated icon has a very intelligent look about it, but it appears a bit doleful when you tell it not to take down information or disperse it freely.

Perhaps I might crawl your blog? it asked. A little looksie? I crawled some other stuff you put up, and I did a good job, don't you think?

I told it that I would consider letting it crawl the blog in the future, though not today.

Alright, what can I do for you today? it asked, resuming its usual eager-to-please font: Google Doc? Adwords? GoogleGoFetch, huh huh?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Moody Blue Reflection: A Perfect Cat

He showed up at age four months or so, wearing a small bow, just in case anyone failed to recognize that he was a gift.

The kitten wasn't claimed, and so he became my cat. No one ever from whence he came. Some suggested -- with at least whimsical seriousness --that his origins were other wordly.

The dreams I had the last year of his life suggested that might even be true. (The subject of a less moody blue post, some other day...)

Mine was not as graceful as the average cat, and his spatial intelligence was low. You could throw a ball for him to catch, and he'd overshoot the mark by about two feet, then look around, like Where'd it go?

But his interpersonal intelligence was very high.

The cat had certain physical anomalies. His heart was a little too large -- I knew that nearly half his lifetime -- though for a long time it was thought to be benign.

He died on June 2, 2009, a little over two months ago, apparently of complications of a too-large heart. He was 13.

Several people received mail from this cat over the years -- creative works with a "four thumbs up rating". That was my cat: He gave four thumbs up to things that didn't deserve it, and three thumbs up to things that were sometimes even lousy. A housemate once described him as the ultimate type B cat. He liked music, and other things, that were mellow and soft -- like himself. He was essentially perfect.

Reflection: In Between Time

I don't live in a world of polka-dot skies, and I never have -- except for brief flashes of Kodak time.

I do live in a beautiful city -- a city of angels, a city of bridges -- though officially those names belong to other cities, and not mine.

It was for my city, several years back, that I wrote this snippet of lyrics:

I cry for disappointed dreams
For things you would not give to me
But in-between you're beautiful:
A flash of infant memory
A sheltering tree limb canopy
The way the lake reflects the sky
In moody blue, with evening nigh

From that snippet, I drew the title for this blog. Eveything and everyone is beautiful , isn't it, in the in-between times... I mean, in between the times that it isn't?