Saturday, February 27, 2010

Reflection: News

My brother called yesterday to say he that it looks like our mother isn’t going to live much longer; I had known that there comes a point where dementia — or the disease that causes it — takes away not just memory but the basic neurological functions necessary for life. It’s good to hear from my brother — I don't think he realizes that I am the type who would feel frightened when I don't hear from him, but instead of responding by calling I would respond by not calling. I don't think that he realizes that there are a few people in this world who perennially trigger my protectiveness and fear of bad news, and that he's one of them. That's why I used to tell people that if anything happened to anyone in the family, it had to be my brother who called. They didn't really listen to me... until more and more it got to be where he was the only one who could call.

I'm asking myself what it's appropriate for me to write on the internet this week -- what would a normal person write. This is a week for memoir. I'd told myself long ago that when I finally heard from my brother (assuming I did) "Best Superman Brother Ever" would go up on Squidoo. I did that. I got my old computer, Ravenna, going; it's sluggish, yes, but I can retrieve the creative writing pieces from "My Documents". There is a piece of flash memoir that focuses on the granddaughter of a neighbor from back when I was small. I wanted to incorporate that into a piece that I put on Squidoo connecting it to some of my recent readings and thoughts. I hope people think that it's okay for me to continue with that plan this week, even though that piece doesn't focus on family.

Squidoo (Best) Ever Project: Best Superman Brother Ever

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Reflection: February Blossoms

Create your own video slideshow at

The theme that I've been writing about lately... Ah, I'll be back to it soon. But first here's this Animoto short: February Blossoms. (Realize these photos were taken all across the month of February -- we're way past some of what you see pictured here.)

I think I'm ready now to put "Step Into Seattle: Spring" on Squidoo. As my first year in Seattle drew to a close (long ago) I wrote a poem which included the line "the order in which pink things blossom". I think "the order in which pink things blossom" is a pretty good thing to showcase on Squidoo... especially for a person who it behooves to get quite a lot written and posted. Barring trauma/bad news, it looks like I likely will make the spring (March 31) deadline to have my lenses reviewed for 'Giant Squid' status. The requirement is 50 high quality lenses; I'm at 37 now.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Reflection: High Intensity Threshold

A quote to begin this post, from "Regulation Disorder of Sensory Processing": "These children require high-intensity sensory input before they are able to respond. They are quiet and watchful at times and may appear withdrawn and difficult to engage."

If ones sees someone with that withdrawn, difficult to engage manner, it may not be that they're overwhelmed by sensory stimuli or social interaction. Quite the opposite. They may be starved for the very the things they seem not to respond to -- starved largely by their own neural wiring. They may have such a high threshold for intensity that most of what's around them passes below that threshold... too far below to motivate an emotional response.

I have sometimes gotten 'Squid Angel blessings' for pieces that I haven't specifically asked for them for. It's when I really, really want people to see a piece that I do post it on the angels forum. It's been quite a while. I did it with the monotropism piece, and I also said something on this blog, to the effect of 'friends, please be my squid angels, too' -- meaning help me with my goal of having people see this.) I'm doing that again. Here's Processing Disorders: The Understimulated Brain.

Photo Credit: FreeDigitalPhotos

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Reflection: Underwhelment (Again)

I've got some big time fears in some areas, but not others. Different forms of fear can be dissociated from each other in striking ways: social from nonsocial anxiety, and phobic or narrow fears from vigilant or paranoid ones. It's only when friends realize this that they can consider that I'm not overwhelmed but seriously underwhelmed by most social situations. There's some evidence of underwhelment, I think: I lived five years in a dorm and seven years in housing co-ops. I frequently slept on the couch in the common area of a sixteen bedroom housing co-op --by day, amidst frequent chaos and confusion. Since girlhood, too, I've been drawn to people with very intense energies, including those who are majorly hyperactive and those who are clinically bipolar.

I know friends have tended to look to my childhood seek answers for some oddities. Ah but what if, in some ways, I am what I am not because of my childhood, but despite it. When I was fifteen, my foster mother commented that I wasn't an introvert but rather an extrovert trying to get out. Both my parents said that in our earliest years (quite a bit before the photo you see here!) it was my brother, two years my senior, who was the painfully shy one. I was the friendlier child, the bolder child, the more outgoing child. (I don't think I was truly outgoing, actually, but enough so that I stood out in contrast to my brother.) My father said in later years that he wished he'd known to be concerned about me -- that he hadn't because I acted like a child who could take on the world.

I have to take care how I explain the next thing, so it doesn't come across as arrogant: People vary in how they process stimuli -- in how much neural activity takes in response to particular things. What's overstimulating to one person may be felt as a mere blip by another. So I think some things just trigger a milder neural response in me than they do in a lot of people. It seems to me that the majority of social situations (including those that have the potential to be sexual) don't have that much at stake -- it just seems to me they hold neither aversion nor the promise of real reward. (I know that I stand in contrast to a lot of people when I express that.)

Don't we all try to make sense of one another's behaviors using our own as a guide? People who are overwhelmed by, say, a party or a date are not going to realize I have a sense of underwhelment -- of too little being at stake. There have been so many times when people have been sure they saw overwhelment in me, when something very other was going on inside. For instance, I don't get overwhelmed by the thought of changing for another person; in most situations, I'm too underwhelmed -- I have too little a sense of anything really being at stake -- to experience strong motivation. And that's actually very painful for me. I don't thrive in situations of too little 'whelment'.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Reflection: Situational Strengths

I put a couple paragraphs on my squid blog, too, about yesterday's attack and having been dragged still hanging onto the purse. Alex first interpreted my description as having frozen and that was why I wouldn't let go even when someone was dragging me; I wrote back that that wasn't quite the case, that the keys belonged to the office at the apartment and I had obsessively drilled into myself not to lose them. It seems that in a moment of crisis I protected what I had obsessively drilled into myself to protect, and that took precedence over fear that I was or should have been feeling. I can't remember experiencing fear except in connection with maybe losing the keys. It's kind of bizarre that I was in that zone and hung on so tightly to the keys, which are so much less of an obsession than a human attachment or pet...

I will say, though... A lot of people see my obsessiveness as fear-driven, and it certainly can be, but there tends to be something underlying fear that is larger than the fear, and that something is attachment. Maybe it's because people don't see the attachment driving the fear that that they get surprised by the crazy levels of strength that can pop out.

I am thinking of somebody who told me once to grab his wrist and "hang on tight" -- and then did this tai chi thing where he spun around and broke my grip... or would have except that I was still holding his wrist. That kind of floored him, so he had to do the whole thing over again. (He did the same thing six more times, and I did the same thing six more times.) See, it was because of who the person was that the symbolism of the whole thing wasn't lost on me -- that it bacame more than just a party game to me. I got this notion that if I could just hang on everything was going to be okay, and I was going to hang on tight, so help me ---!

I sure don't like to get in the kind of situation I did yesterday, but I will say that a part of my attraction to obsession in other sorts of situations is because I've tasted before the kind of strength that "This I will protect if I bleed" can find in me.

Yesterday I made wrong choices; I am kind of puzzling over how much danger I might have put myself into. I also imagine that I should have let their professional fix the knee. I said it wasn't any worse than taking a fall, but I was overlooking that I did get once an infection from a fall that I took a few years back.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Reflection: Intact After an Attack

I'm intact. I have learned, though, not to go near Madrona Grocery Outlet even at midday in bright sunlight. There are some major teenage thugs there. There is something to be said for quitting certain things while one's ahead -- or at least intact, save for one knee. Someone does have my purse, unless they discarded it somewhere. I lost some signed time sheets, but I retained my keys and a few valuables that were in a smaller bag that fell out. My jeans leg is ripped, and one knee bleeding, but I declined to have the officer haul me somewhere to have someone "take a look at it". It's not worse than if I took a fall somewhere.

It was because I held so tightly to that purse that I was dragged a few feet. Was my heart racing when I finally collected the fallen possessions and walked toward the bus stop? No. Once again, I think the physiological/ emotional response was a good bit less than most people's would be. I wasn't as deflected.

That's hard for people to imagine, if they've seen me when I've had to face some narrow phobic-fear. There's a little bit of research to back up that in some cases focused phobic-type fear is associated with not hyperactivity, but rather deficits/sluggishness in the normal fear response system. There's a saying that when the zebra is outrunning the lion, it can't afford to be thinking about the past. In other words, forgetting isn't always a passive act; there are neurochemical systems designed to help us forget, to disengage from our own core selves and act (in extreme circumstances) as if our past didn't exist. Some people disengage -- dissociate -- when circumstances don't demand it. Others lack the wiring to so. I may look like I have zebra instincts (and not just to teenage thugs by Madrona Outlet!) but those zebra instincts are actually a component of what's missing in me.

Well. I wrote two posts this afternoon. I hope people do still read that earlier one -- I think it was a good one.

Reflection: Whelment Issues

I found a book Fidget to Focus on the lobby bookcase and have been read it intensely. Ever since college, I have been aware that I identify with some ADHD behaviors characteristics (again) others are simply the polar opposite of me. A relatively new theory, based on brain research: that a person with ADD has some brain systems that process stimuli so poorly that it results in constant boredom, or underwhelment.

I not only sleep well with caffeine in my system -- I seem to sleep better with all around lousy sleep hygiene. I know there are people who can remember me sleeping on the couch of a 16 bedroom co-op, amidst the chaos and the activity. I wonder if anyone sees some humor in the following passage. "Fidget strategies work for falling asleep, just the way they do during the day, the goal being to help us achieve optimal arousal for a given activity. One mother reports that her daughter, who occasionally declared herself too bored to sleep, experimented with different sleeping venues: the floor, the couch, and once even the bathtub."

On the next line, though, I cease to identify with the phenomenon: "Changing where she slept created just enough novelty that the strategy worked every time." There's a general assumption that the chronically bored seek out novelty... But what if one's brain processes novelty so poorly, on an emotional level, that they simply fail to experience normal 'whelment' from it? What if, in order to experience 'optimal arousal' or 'whelment', they have to get a good rhythm going?

To be continued...

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Reflection: Older and Shorter (Haired)

I think that's the shortest I've ever cut my hair. It suits my face, and age, better, I think. I can look such different ages -- in life as well as in pictures. Part of the effect hinges on the smile: A smile completely changes the contour of my cheeks, and of my face as a whole -- more so than it does for most people.

My cheeks look better curving outward than inward. It's not just cares that give the illusion of lessening. It's years, too, provided (and this is strictly between you and me, of course!) that I "wash that gray right out of my hair". Yep, I did say that... Some people freak out when they see the first gray hair. Not me -- because I was so young then. I had my first gray hair at age 8, and it's increased slowly ever since then, hitting critical mass -- becoming noticeable, I mean -- by about 30.

Despite the stray grays, I looked much less than my years through my teens and somewhat beyond. As for my thoughts and behavior -- well, sometimes they struck people as much older than my years, and other times as much younger. I think that a part of that is that I pretty much bypassed adolescence. We're all so much past adolescence now, and in my eyes that's a good thing.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Reflection: Differing Abilities

More than a decade back, when I first heard the term 'Aspergers Syndrome' I was struck by how half the symptoms sounded just like me and half sounded exactly the opposite. That feeling has persisted.

There are several well-known members of the Squidoo community who claim the label Aspergers. One, a woman with high-functioning autism, is such an excellent writer. She vividly described some things I do not have personal experience with -- like being overstimulated by eye contact or having to struggle to read body language or understand nonliteral verbal expressions. Her webpage didn't describe her monotropic tendencies, but she stopped by my monotropism page, and said she identified completely with what was written therein. She said that once she was working on a project for a client and fainted because no one reminded her to eat. More interestingly, she reported that when she doesn't have something to plug into, she 'freaks out a little'. She depends on having some 'one thing' to plug into. Ah, yes -- and that type of dependency is one that would simply not occur to most people!

I have been known to shut people out who, it would seem, could bring me comfort or provide me with support. I shut them out because of a fear they will bring news of loss. I cope very poorly with loss; I suppose one reason I cope so very poorly with loss is that, in addition to all the other things (love and the usual suspects) , loss can deprive me of the obsession that I depend on to function. It's not comfort, but rather obsession that runs my reward system. Something that isn't obvious to most people on the surface: that this woman who copes so poorly with loss copes quite well -- better than the average person -- with tremendous levels of demand.

I commented to a friend years back that I experienced very little anxiety in situations where the outcome depended on my own actions: I experience anxiety only in situations where the outcome is out of my hands. Another thing of course that people miss: that very high sense of personal competence -- that "Well, maybe you can't, but I can" tendency. If anything, it's probably a bit too high. It's not entirely unfounded: When a person focuses narrowly on one or two things, they tend to get good at them.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Reflection: Phantoms Who Ring in the Night

Usually I take the phone off the hook when I'm online tutoring -- there's more than one reason for that, as people who know me know well. But there I was talking to a student in Beijing... and with the phone ringing in a way that was hard to ignore. It was a little after 8:00 -- prime time for sub-finding machines. That's who it most likely is, I told myself, a machine. It's no news from loved ones, nothing that could faze me emotionally; I'll pick it up -- easy peazy -- then I'll hang up on it, and resume tutoring.

"I usually take it off the hook," I was saying to my student as I lifted the phone. "Hello," I said into the receiver. No machine was there to greet me. I spoke again; I spoke several times before I heard the faint click that told me I was no longer connected.

I resumed work with the phone off the hook and my mind on the phantom caller -- on people who go ring in the night, then aren't there. Was someone fazed by my words to my student, deliberately unwilling to intrude on my session with so much as a voice? There were questions in my mind as I drifted off to sleep quite a few hours later, with the phone back on the hook, and two diphenhydramine in my system (a higher dose than I've been taking of late). I felt better when the drowsiness wore off (today early afternoon). The phone's been reassuringly quiet. It was probably not a crisis or calamity that prompted someone to call, but then slip away without a word of greeting.

I communicate with people on a daily basis from all over the world; I experience little if any anxiety because I don't love those people or fear losing them. That seems so logical to me -- it's hard to imagine experiencing fear in connection with a person unless one is fearful of losing the person -- yet it's brought home to me again and again that that's a perspective that's not shared by a lot of people. Now then, whatever the LinkWithin widget picks as 'related posts, I give also: Plase Don't Email the Drops.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Reflection: Lenses and Lensographies

I type my blog entries at home, but often I do most of the composing out and about. A few hours back (on a bus) my mind was tossing around a possible 'clever lead-in' for this post. Tired now, I decided to forego the witticisms, and just discuss and give links to some off-site writings...

I put up a second Williams Syndrome piece, Williams Syndrome and Music. I've got several videos included in the piece-- it can be good to enter some more esoteric key word strings sometimes: The video of the little girl giving a rocking (literally!) rendition of "Jesus Loves Me" has been viewed by many people, but the fifteen-year-old with the piano compositions... well, that hasn't been watched much at all. A lot of quality things get buried on YouTube and Google and life.

One of the other things I put up... well, it's a term most people wouldn't recognize because some 'squid' invented it. Most people who write 'seriously' for Squidoo put up a lensography: They arrange their writings/lenses by topic and maybe write a bit of autobiography around them. It's for one's friends and fellow writers, moreso than for the world at large, but it can help people find your writings. I put up Evening Nigh Reflections Lensography. (The web personas are sharing an account, but that doesn't mean they're going to share a lensography -- ah, no, this one belongs to Evening Nigh.)

I've had that lensography up for the better part of a week, and it's the one, among the very recent ones, that's doing best in Squid-Land -- it has a few 'squid angel' blessings at this point. There are links on it to a few pieces that I haven't discussed on this blog. Someone might want to locate A Paper Doll Childhood and print out some dolls for my little niece; the little niece who's old enough to wield scissors will find some interesting cutting there. (I'll add that paper dolls is not such an odd topic for a lens -- there are a handful of modestly successful lenses on the topic on Squidoo -- and that one is off to a pretty good start, too.)

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Reflection: Is it in my Genes? (I)

I'm not fearful of incoming information over in Squidoo-land; thus I allow comments and dialogue on the more occasional blog posts that I write there. Coming home in tears one day -- I think I'm about to do something tears, I'm close enough to feel the fear tears -- I felt the impulse to post this particular on my Squid blog first... before this one even. The post that I am reprinting here I actually had up at the time of that write-up that I shared in Another's Images.

I've been contemplating the various factors that affect how other's view me, and the credence they put in things I express. I've also very much been contemplating genes. There are multipe themes in this post that you can expect me to return to:

"I express well in writing, and sometimes I’m very glad for that… on a personal level.

I’m getting ready — at least I think I’m getting ready! — to write a letter to a nurse… a nurse I respect, one who struck me as both more knowledgeable and more respectful the doctors I have known. I don’t make a good impression on doctors. I’m afraid of medical prefessionals, but my demeanor doesn’t mean that I’m ignorant, or irrational. I’m sure I’m not alone in saying that doctors have often treated me like I was very small.

So I’m going to write to a particular nurse, and I’m going to explain in the most courteous manner I can that I don’t really want to hear anyone’s opinion, and that I don’t really want to talk. I want blood. I want genetic testing. I’d rather not spend hundreds of dollars out of pocket, of course (I don’t have a lot at this point) but if I have to, I will. I just need to put it all in someone else’s hands.

I could chicken out or postpone the ordeal — I have been doing that for over a year. But I will say it felt a little less daunting to take those first steps when I realized I have some very relevant posts on my Evening Nigh Reflections blog… a few relevant lenses and articles. I don’t have a lot to say, but I can sift through my writings and pass along a few links.

Those who read this post can probably see why my web personas get wary of each other. 'You do what you need to do,' said TBT, 'You do what you need to do for both of us, but if you’re going to issue memos like this from our joint headquarters, make sure you keep on referring to me by my initials only'..."

Sunday, February 7, 2010

In Between: Whoops, Talking Blog!

Is it just me, or has my blog been reciting "The Mill Wheel in Motion" to anyone who visits it today? That audio widget has been there for months -- dunno why it went on auto play today! (I took the player off the sidebar, but left it on the the Oct. 28 blog entry where I first posted it.)

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Reflection: Another's Images

"Alex... This post is worth far more to me than the $100 I sent you to improve my exposure. Although... Nicki and Karen tell me they got the same exposure for half price..." I glanced at that tongue-in-cheek (and maybe slightly embarrassed) comment that had been posted at a Squidoo-related site and thought, "Hmmm, what exposure did Nicki and Karen and John get?"

When I link to, or include a write-up from some Squid-related site, I'm not necessarily bragging. No, there is some particular point that I am trying to make, and I'm using another's words and impressions. I did quite a bit of that in A Matter of Trust.

I'm going to include an excerpt today of another writeup -- I'll refer back to it again. This is from a Squidoo-related blogging site: a place people write about their Squidoo pages, others' Squidoo pages, and/or their particular niches and pet concerns. (The site is partly about backlinks and mutual promotion, but largely about community.) This quoted excerpt is by Alex, aka Drifter:

"I’ll throw the spotlight on three voices now, three voices that ring clear in my heart and playfully toy with my addled mind...

John's Bullshot is a wonderful broadcast of facts and observations that is confidently playful...

The Custard Bowl. Honest, cheerful, full of life. Nicki’s voice is like a spell. Weaving across my eardrums, the magic takes me places...

And then there is Squid and Squabble. When I read Karen’s words, I am beckoned on a chase. Into a foggy night I am drawn by glimpses of a beauty in a black trench coat. Slender calves walking away from me. Long dark hair accentuated by moments of hazy street lamps..."

Curious images, those. My column, Squid and Squabble, draws its name from the tenuous relationship between the two web personas who share my Squidoo account. I intentionally removed the link tomy own Squid column, but I do plan to repost -- and discuss -- something from Squid and Squabble in the next day or two.

Friday, February 5, 2010

In-Between: Misheard Song Lyrics of the '80s

Go on and close your eyes, imagine me there
We can sit on the beach, with longer hair
-Melissa Etheridge, Similar Features

Don't make me yodel!
-Belinda Carlisle, Don't Make Me Over

When life gets tough, long-winded baby...
Steve Winwood, Roll With It

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Reflection: The Kitty Carryall Metaphor

I hope that folks read a previous post titled Tagging (A Metaphor for Monotropism). I think it was read by quite a few people -- it does show up in the "Link Within" widget under a number of posts.

I want to add these thoughts:

I am pretty sure that most people in this world experience either more or less pleasure in other human beings based on the behavior of those other human beings; even if they don't actually love them less, they experience less pleasure in the interaction. The funny thing is, I don't. I experience other people as having 'tags' and 'categories' -- people are either 'my favorite' or 'not my favorite', either 'mine' or 'not mine'. Pretty much my entire emotional experience of other people comes down to those tags and categories. I think it's hard for a normal mind to fathom that I will experience another person the same -- and feel the same pleasure in the interaction -- whether the person gives me roses or runs around and squawks like a chicken.

Before I'd ever heard the term monotropic, I was looking for metaphors to describe a way of perceiving the world. One of those early metaphors involved Kitty Carryall: When she was small, Cindy Brady toted around a doll named Kitty Carryall. Once when the doll was lost, Cindy's brother bought her a new one that looked just like the original. Cindy took one look at the doll and shrieked, "That's not Kitty Carryall!" I do so identify with that behavior.

Across my life there have been attachments that are my Kitty Carryalls. Someone either is Kitty Carryall or they aren't. And Kitty Carryall herself just is. The notion that my feeling for a Kitty Carryall -- or the pleasure I derive -- is determined by Kitty Carryall's behavior... well, that seems absurd to me.

Strengths and weaknesses exist as two sides of the same coin. It's hard when the traits I see as my strongest strengths are seen by some others as my weakest weaknesses. I'm sure I have myself at least partly to blame. One thing I did do at points in my life: act as if other people existed solely for the purpose of discussing my Kitty Carryalls with me. That came back to haunt me. Something that stings across a span of so many years... a person who said I was "just looking for someone to be there for me". Ah, not so!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Reflection: Listening to Caffeine

Here is my Listening to Caffeine lens -- my second-to-most-recent one. Monday is one of two days that I am available to sub all day. I didn't find a position today, though I sorely needed it. If I had been up plugged into the online Subfinder at 5:30 this morning (as I was on Thursday) I would have had a better chance of finding something. Over the course of the early morning hours, positions briefly open up -- very briefly some mornings.

By the time it was obvious that I was going to spend the day at home... well, I was writing away. The writing gig would be very supplemental in the income department, even if I manage, over time, to push a few more lenses into the upper tier. Still, I can point the educational ones -- like the one I wrote this morning -- at my website and eduFire profile. And of course there's a song on the Animoto site -- which I may set my Farmer's Market slides to -- called "Love is Better Than Money". Ah, that it is. Still, it's better if I don't run out of money altogether.

Now speaking of markets -- and of caffeine -- Super C energy drink is back at Madrona Grocery Outlet, and I should stock up. I gather that it's more commonly people with ADHD who can drink coffee or energy drink and say, "Well, that was a nice nightcap -- yawn." I don't have ADHD, but I have said for a long time, that my brain is distinguished by very unusual attention patterns, moreso than by anxiety per se. Isn't it interesting that the very brain chemicals that are stereotypically associated with anxiety -- the so-called 'fight or flight' chemicals -- tend to... mellow me out a bit? I do take diphenhydramine, but I'm more likely to konk out on half a dose if I have a little caffeine in my system, too.