Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Reflection: The Paper Doll Page Rides Again...

Remember when I said paper dolls weren't such a funny topic for a Squidoo page? Well, putting the paper dolls online up was rather a pragmatic Squidoo move, actually. I have 54 lenses at this point (a 4 lens cushion above what I need to apply for Giant Squid status this round) and for several weeks now my top lens has been A Paper Doll Childhood. (It peaked at about a 3,000 lensrank, and is closer to 4,000 now.)

If a person interacts on the Squidoo forums and leaves comments on others' 'lenses', from time to time other Squidoo-ers will click through onto their profile. Many people browse through the lens list and visit whatever topics interest them; some, though, are more inclined to check out your top-ranked page. I would say that male Squid are less likely to drop in on a lens about paper dolls, though. It's generally quite a girlie crew that comments on that one.

Not today. Today someone wrote that he was going to be the first and possible only guy to leave a comment on my paper doll lens. He mentioned that he was trying to make a living as a freelancer and that he liked to read other people's internet writing and see what worked for them.

Well, here is one life lesson that can be drawn from my experiences with Squidoo: There is a place for people to simply be themselves. Paper doll pages can do quite well. The lens that made Lens of the Day and thus peaked highest (briefly in the top 1,000) was quite a personal one, Making Sense of Monotropism. That lens has had its champions.

As for making money with online writing, though... well, at this point it's a few dollars here and there. It's on the rise, but it's still quite low. Times are tough -- and tight -- for so many reasons. Putting out the money for a Greyhound ticket is tough. But I've got most of the remaining pieces to my kindergarten-aged niece's dollhouse packed, I've got a shoulderbag case for Snookums-the-netbook to ride in... and it looks like I'll begin my Arizona trip in a few hours. I'll be gone a week or so.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Reflection: Does Your Nose Dip Low?

Have you ever felt the need to document your ... nose? I do. I want the early history of my nose.

But no, that's not an old baby picture of me. That's a baby niece. Observe that she was a cute baby. Observe, too, the nasal bridge: the slope that rises up (and down) right there between her two eyes. Both my nieces were born with nasal bridges! I've seen those things on early pictures of my cousins and my brother, as well.

As for me... the pictures I have are small, they're less clear than ideal. I think there was very little in the way of nasal bridge -- it was low, ah, but how low did it go? I don't think anything I can dig up (medical records long gone) is going to get genetics testing actually paid for by insurance, but there are things I want to see.

My brother tells me the old photos still exist -- more than the paltry few in my possession -- and I have a use for them beyond digital storytelling.

It's Spring Break. I'll talk to my brother again in a little bit, and I think I'm going home. A hard journey in a lot of ways.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Reflection: Netbook Attachment II / Beautiful to my Ears

I read somewhere that if a netbook quieted down when you picked it up, the noise was probably coming from the fan, and not the hard drive. So does that mean netbooks are like babies -- they seek human contact and go hush-a-bye when you hold them? (Or do you suppose it has more to do with circulating air?)

The netbook in the picture is mine. It was christened Aubrey, but it answers to Snookums. I have thought at points of doing a Squidoo page for this here netbook. It could recommend some products/ security programs, and I could include some blog posts where it appears as the charming creature it is.

Perhaps I shouldn't personify it too much, though... I've been concerned about it this week. It's a bit noisy, though not as noisy as the noisy Acer netbooks people have seen fit to post to YouTube. If it were to need a major new part... ah, well, better than getting a new netbook.
Snookums, you and I are going places! This here is the best netbook because... well, rather than give you pragmatic reasons I could give a mishmash of stuff straight out of The Little Prince and The Velveteen Rabbit. Seaking of which... do you suppose there might be a Blue Fairy for netbooks, a fairy who swoops down and gets them eventually, and says thing like, "You have been an absolutely awesome Acer Aspire One netbook. Before you were real to Karen. Now you shall be real to everyone."

Monday, March 22, 2010

In-between Reflection: The Phone

I don't do it on purpose. Sometimes the phone doesn't work right, and I can't hear anyone on the other end. These incidents seem more likely to happen soon after the phone has been off the hook for a while. I'll wiggle at the ports, and I may end up connecting or I may not, but usually I won't hang up unless there's a hang up on the other end. Today I did. They were on for so very long. I kept saying, "This isn't working right... Hey you can all back." I replaced the phone on the receiver and an uneasy feeling came over me, born perhaps of dreams. I didn't do that on purpose, you know.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Reflection: Without Direction

I got on the bus the other day, rummaged through my purse for coins, and then instead of rotating my body forwards and dropping them in the coin box, I rotated my body backwards and almost dropped them on the meter. The bus driver noticed and laughed in a good-natured way, saying "This way". She probably thought I was new to Seattle or seldom rode buses. Oh no! But I wasn't psychologically disoriented either. I was spatially disoriented. The only way I can explain it was that bending slightly and then righting myself involved change of direction, and even that very slight change of direction could cause spatial disorientation. I no longer had a sense of which direction was which.

Would it blow people's minds to know that I've lived in the same apartment for years (and though I take the stairs instead of the elevator on a fairly frequent basis) I have no idea which staircase will take me to which part of the first floor? Outside I memorize routes to and fro while failing to connect the to with the fro. I don't have a sense that I'm transversing the same small area. When I turn a corner, once I get over the disorientation, I am simply walking forwards. Ask me how the forwards I'm walking now relates to the forwards I was walking a minute ago, and I may not be able to tell you.

The situation can't be explained by profound distraction. That also doesn't explain why I have the best memory for conversation of anyone I have ever met, (recording things that seem at the time to have no significance, and then reciting them years later) yet fail to remember basic visual information about my surroundings unless I explicitly narrate it to myself. (It can be embarrassing at moments, like the times when I rode home regularly with a co-worker and, when asked to fetch something from the car, realized I had no idea what the car looked like.) ItalicI've heard people who are autistic say that they struggle to recognize faces -- in some cases, they may recognize only a few people in the world by their face. Well, I have a much better memory for faces than cars!

My brother said he'd make phone calls to see about me getting the genetic test I feel I want. I want him to really buy into it

Friday, March 19, 2010

Reflection: The Difference Between 'Illogical' and 'Not Logical'

Can everything be classified as either logical or illogical? I don't think so. I think a lot of people call behavior 'illogical' when it is merely 'not logical' -- and that there is actually a huge difference between those two things. So much of our experience, whether we're normal or not so normal, is not about logic at all -- it's about drives and impulses and changes in arousal level (perceived as either interest or fear).

Is motivation logical? Well, it's mitigated by logic -- hopefully-- but that's not the same as being driven by it. There's quite a bit of evidence of brain reward systems running on chemicals (ie dopamine) in kind of a 'ka-ching ka-ching' fashion. There's scientific evidence of reward system irregularities being implicated in various disorders. Is a person less logical because they fail to experience reward or motivation in the more typical ways?

Ah, and then there's the issue of drives. Just about everyone has heard the term 'drive' applied to things like sex, but there's also a drive toward monogamous/ faithfulness, supported by its own system of neuroeptides. (Some of thItalice early research on that came from studying prairie voles, and why it was that they formed pair bonds and nurtured their young for a long time when other related species didn't.)

Of course I've also written recently about the issue of sensory processing -- having the 'volume of the world' turned up unusually high or turned down unusually low. Ultimately... I think it's illogical to expect others' non-logical parts to operate the same as our own!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Reflection: The Distance Between Obsessions

I've talked so much now about how it is that all my life people have misinterpreted the reasons for my own actions. Well, I'm partly to blame for that, and I'm not the only one who has mis-authored their own life. How many of us have hidden our motives and the inner workings of our clockwork, not just from our friends and acquaintances, but from the doctors who would prescribe treatment? We do it out of fear.

Think aboItalicut this: As long as people see my obsessions as primarily fear-driven, as avoidant or away obsessions, they at least won't be frightened of me Nobody's frightened of such a mousy person -- and so there are times I've wanted to cast myself as the 'mousy person'. At the moment people see the toward in my obsessions... well, do you know how often across decades of my life that I've been afraid of people seeing me as scary. See, you will find heroes, yes, but also some dangerous people in that population of people who are driven single-mindedly by their own obsessions.

There is fear in me, oh, yes, and that's art of why I am so compelled by 'the distance between obsessions' -- by the way the towards tower like mountains above the aways. There are things in my life I won't cross through just because someone is holding my hand... yet I will barrel through if there's something on the other side that drives me enough. I think it's less true that I'm plagued by unwanted obsession as that I'm dependent upon obsession and single-minded drive. That's surely a part of the reason that I have trouble seeing anything as truly desirable that I won't allow myself to be knocked down and smeared with blood over.

That picture of course depicts The Little Prince. I've always identified with the book and seen in it the positive side of a particular way of being. I've got some analysis of The Little Prince on Squidoo and it's done pretty well as of late.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Reflection: Mirroring Abilities and Disabilities

My left hand is proud of its schoolwork and delighted with the comments and smiley face that the right hand left for it in red ink. (Do you see the title there in gold gel marker?)

Seriously, though, this relates to some issues that are important to me. I just put up a lens on Squidoo titled Neurological Disorders: Differing Abilities and Gifts. I've got some lenses featured on it that are my own, and also half a dozen that are by other Squidoo 'lensmasters'. (A lot of us do feature or link to each other's writings; it's a way of helping one another... and the site.)

I've read different statistics; I believe one thing I read said that Squidoo was one of the top 100 websites in the U.S. -- and it's very much in the black in these trying times. It can be a good thing to work not only to increase one's share of the pie, but the size of the pie -- especially when one finds many pages that are quality and that they believe in.

Among the premises of that page I just put up: that multiple anomalies tend to reflect an underlying condition, and that anomalous brain structuring may come with mirrored disability and giftedness (usually in a metaphorical sense... and not quite so graphic as what you see in the picture).

Friday, March 12, 2010

Reflection: Mirror Writing

I had wondered for a long time if a particular thing was normal... It's not that I really cared whether it was normal, but I was interested in what it could tell me. I don't think I'm a lot more adept with my right hand or my left, but my right likes to go right and my left likes to go left. Well, I learned a new phrase on Squidoo: "mirror writing". I came across a lens about it, written by an internet friend. I knew I had some proclivity at it, but wondered just how good I was. I put a pencil in just my left hand and wrote as fast as I could, just about as fast as with my right hand. A couple of the letters I actually thought I was making in the normal direction as I went along, but when I looked back, every single one of the 26 was mirrored.

Apparently if one can write easily and naturally with either hand but in opposite directions you're a "mirror writer". And mirror writing is yet another anomaly that sometimes happens on its own in an otherwise normal person, and sometimes occurs as part of neurological disorders that cause autism or mental retardation.

I figure there are people who have been defeated by me at Boggle who would be quite surprised to know that I would have trouble mirroring even the simplest gesture of someone who's facing me. I would see that their head was tilted, but determining which way and then telling my own body to do the same thing... that would be a major struggle. People assume someone who can read forwards, backwards, and upside down that must have at least a normal ability to differentiate one direction from anotItalicher, but that's not always true. I will say that I am much better at such skills than when I was a kid.

Some people get frustrated that people see them as "dumb" because of their spatial skills. My problem was never that anyone thought I was dumb. No, they'd see me as so smart that there just had to be a psychological reason for everything. (If someone's IQ tests low and they're in adaptive PE because of coordination and spatial problems, people assume they don't get a driver's license because they don't have the skills. But if someone's IQ tests high and they're in adaptive PE because of coordination and spatial skills, people will see their not getting a driver's license as one more piece of evidence that they're cowering in fear of the world.)

I could be dead wrong on leads I follow, so I avoid saying too much. I will say that there are people who have a corpus callosum (the part that connects the hemispheres of the brain) that bends at an abnormal angle through the brain's language center, but fails to reach as far as the motion center at the base of the brain. There was one study of children with this disorder that found that the wider the bending angle the more over the top the storytelling behavior -- the more bent those children were on capturing an audience and hooking them. And that is but one example of a weakness that comes with a mirroring gift.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Memory (From Before My Time): Women Who Flew

The woman in the musical slideshow is Bessie Coleman, a famous aviator from before any of our time -- I think somebody selected a stunning song for that video. Bessie was African American, but I do see a bit of resemblance (appearance or aspect?) between some of her pictures and long long ago pictures of my mother.

One of the more surprising things about 'the mother I never really knew' is that she earned a pilot license. I have a new piece on Squidoo titled Pioneering Women Pilots . The name may change to "My Mother and Other Women Who Flew" particularly if my brother is able to put his hands on enough artifacts.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Reflection: A Glimpse of Heaven

A new section of online CLEP begins today -- I'm expecting probably a couple students -- and I think it's understandable that I've shut out news from the world (taken the phone off the hook) these few hours before. Here I sit writing... and I want to write more about my 'underwhelment' theme today. It can be difficult to know what another's experience is like. Sometimes it's hard for me to tell to what extent I'm experiencing or feeling things less than others -- and to what extent I have a stronger need to feel them.

Understand: Some of us need a lot of 'whelment' to function optionally. It's not that I want another human to cost me or bring me pain, but it's hard for me to imagine experiencing real pleasure in human interaction that isn't based on the willingness to incur tremendous cost. I don't see that there's that much pleasure or excitement in flirting with another person. And I don't see that there's that much comfort in a hand on the shoulder. There some, yes, but compared to the strength it takes to get through this life the comfort seems awfully flimsy. As for people getting highs from stuff like sex... well, to me it seems not much of a high compared to looking at another human in an "Anything for you" way.

Being really, really 'whelmed' -- whelmed by obsession, whelmed by love -- that's what I depend on. Some of us are made of pieces that seem contradictory or paradoxical til you look. I don't let others put me through things because of low self esteem. I let them put me through Hell because with that willingness to go through Hell comes the only glimpse of Heaven that I've ever seen.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Reflection: Across Miles and Years

My brother was at the hospital most of the time for the last week my father was alive. I went by Greyhound and got there later than I should have; I did spend the last two nights there -- and gave him water from a water dropper the last night.

And now... here I still sit. Kevin reports that he's rarely over there with himself with Mother -- even in those brief semi-awake moments she has no idea who he is. She hasn't known that for a long time. (It's been well over a year and a half since my father died, but even then she was beginning to ask us, "Do you know that my husband died?" She still knew he was her husband, then, but she wasn't clear on him being our father.)

Tears in the morning... diphenhydramine and chamomile in my system when I went off to work. Chamomile has mood brightening effects, as well as preventing body aches, but it doesn't make me sleepy. That's my brain for you: Chamomile in the morning, caffeine by night. Every substance that I react strongly to you better believe I have done a major internet study of -- but until the blood and genes there's a limit to how much I can say for sure.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Reflection: Memoir of...

I've been continuing to ask what it's appropriate to post this week... and I've been continuing to put up memoir.

Ravenna-the-big-old-computer didn't explode when its monitor did. I was able to retrieve a flash memoir, "Playing With Fire", and use it as part of a Squidoo lens, Memoir of a Hyporesponsive Child which continues the 'underwhelment' theme. I'd written some time back in "Tagging: A Metaphor for Monotropism": "This is just a theory, but it seems to fit. Deficient in body signals, deficient in the very mechanics of attraction (interest) and repulsion, I just want my favorite. I just want whatever it is I've tagged as my favorite."

I didn't know how much scientific evidence there was to back up the idea of hyporesponsive sensory processing and high-intensity thresholds. I didn't know the key words to enter, but a week or two ago, I stumbled into some material. So this resulting piece is a combination of memoir and scientific ramblings and annotation.

My brother will remember the girl who appears in the opening module of this Squidoo lens, though I did change the name. He asked me if he could access my lenses from this blog. Well, not all of them -- and especially not easily -- but I'm going to add some more to the sidebar list shortly.