Saturday, December 31, 2011

Home again... and home again. I went to Arizona to, among other things, cultivate relationships with the little girls before they stop being little girls.

Two red-haired girls. Their mother, my sister-in-law, has honey colored hair, a mixture of blonde, brown, and red, though I don't think she was ever a true redhead. In our family... well, I know there was a great aunt on my mother's side who had red hair; I believe there was also a redhead in that generation on my father's side. I was the only redhead for two generations.

The elder one... Well, I knew I wasn't overstaying my welcome in her eyes. She was glad to have an someone to play with, read her chapter book, direct activities. The little one... well, maybe she'll like me when she gets older. A year and a half ago, she buried her face in her father's chest when she saw me; this time, she buried her face in his chest. In the interim, she learned to speak complete sentences intelligibly, but she hasn't yet reached the stage of abstract thought...or of doing a lot of focused activity. For her, familiar faces are the best ones. And Daddy knows best.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Reflection: Flexibility Revisited

I am revisiting once more the concept of flexibility: How is it that I appear unusually flexible -- indeed hyperflexible -- to friends, yet never scored well on test of flexibility? I was sub-par throughout all my years of P. E., and was, in fact, the worst person in my class in gymnastics activities, performing like a person with joint limitations. (Flexibility wasn't the main reason I was eventually placed in adaptive P.E., but let's just say it wasn't helping.)

Sometimes it takes years to define the perimeters of something; some crucial detail eludes me. Here goes: Tests of flexibility are generally done with the legs straight/ extended. It appears that, for me, though, the ability to bend at the waist depends, to an unusual degree, on also having bent legs. In P.E., students are asked to sit with their legs extended and then touch their toes. The act of sitting with my legs extended is in itself uncomfortable; my range of motion in this position is pretty limited. But if I bend my legs deeply -- sitting on my feet, say, or sitting in yogi position -- then everything changes. I can not only bend my body flat against the ground, but I'm so comfortable I could sleep that way. (Sometimes I do.)

Pictures taken here and there, across my life, are suggestive of loose joints. If you look at the picture in With Legs Crossed, you'll see a small child with some unusual posture. In that pose, it almost looks like my legs detached. Either that or they were pretty durn short... which they weren't. I doubt I could do a toe touch, though, even then. By the time I started school, at any rate, that task was way out of reach.

Once again, I've got to get on my soapbox and say that it's not just about physical capacity. If we look at how a person acts in one context, striking as it may be, we can get into some trouble generalizing or making predictions about how they'll perform in other contexts.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Reflection: Those (Very) Protective Anti-Virus Programs

September 18 was the day Toto's free trial of McAfee ran out (or so it told me). It was hard to use the little netbook in the days leading up to September 18 as McAfee kept flashing dire warnings. I felt I had things under control, but the security program knew how to tug at my heart strings.

On the evening of the 17th, I looked up security programs, some free, some in the neighborhood of $30 to $40. It seemed like the free version of AVG did less than it used to -- understandable, I suppose, in a freemium world. Still, the free program would stave off crisis. Windows gave us a firewall, and AVG would at least momentarily give us our anti-virus; later I could decide if I wanted to purchase something additional for Toto and Snookums.

Now here is where things got curious: AVG proceeded to download more than it indicated it would -- or so it seems. (It wouldn't want to see anything happen on its shift.) Also, it is the 20th now, and McAfee is hanging around longer than indicated. It appears it is thoughtfully giving me a grace period. (Will it win my heart yet?) It put up an icon that we were in a state of alert (no protection? low protection?) But when I plugged my camera in, it warned me that there was this device connected... and did I want it to scan the thing? Perhaps McAfee has downgraded itself, but it has not left. I picture it like the Cheshire cat -- some part remaining.

Choices, choices... I guess most security program companies offer some sort of free download that's separate from their trial. Some offer more, some less. McAfee has a curious program that will let you know whether the security program you currently have installed (whatever it might be) is behaving properly. It will tell you things like, "CA Security reports that things are peachy keen. But if you want even more protection, you can upgrade to McAfee TOTAL Protection now." Snookums-the-Netbook has one of those programs. So far I have not felt the need to get Toto one.

photo: pittaya

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Happy 2nd Birthday

I missed this baby's second birthday earlier this month. The blog, not the little one in the picture who has long since grown.

Ah, there have been overextended days: writing 1,500 words of paid articles, a day, working elsewhere... It's lighter now. It can be hard, when I haven't blogged in a while to decide what's that one worthy thing that I most want to put up. I frequently have my 'evening nigh reflections' and yet there are times when it is difficult to post. There's something about critical mass. f I post regularly, I don't have this "It needs to be something momentous feeling". But the most important motivator, for me, is the sense of being read. Blog posts can be siphoned off into emails...

But: Moving into this third year with ENR, I have, for the first time, a little digital camera. That makes online writing easier. A couple thousand words a day is feeling less intimidating. Snookums has an external keyboard and needs to be plugged in, but Toto is on the go. There's still a lot of writing to do... too much at times. But this blog is still my baby... grown now to toddlerhood.

Reflections: Beautiful Minds

Beautiful minds? you're thinking. But that's a pair of... feet. Yes, and those are confident feet, many would say. (I'll tie this together in a moment.)

I'm still doing readings each week on a Blog Talk Radio show, and an interesting theme came up this week. I don't really like the term, erotic capital, but the concept makes sense. There are a mixture of traits that together go a long way to creating interpersonal attractiveness. The host brought up something interesting: He said it really came down to confidence. I would surely agree that the purely physical was only a small part of this nebulous thing, that the charisma and mystique were created more by the things a person did: how they dressed and otherwise 'put themselves together', how they carried themselves, how they interacted. I would surely agree that those things are often associated with confidence. But it doesn't mean they equal confidence.

I'm thinking back to the movie "A Beautiful Mind" which I saw nearly a decade ago. That woman... oh, she had that nebulous thing. The way she blazed into his office -- the fictionalized John Nash's -- when he was an up and coming professor. At first, I didn't like that woman; she seemed shallow. But, oh, did I like her as the movie progressed. I talked on and on about her that evening: the woman who dug both feet into ground when things went crazy.

Is there a biological reason for people for people to be attracted to confidence? I daresay there is. What about associating that blaze with standing one's ground? Ah, perhaps there is. The problem is that a lot of the things on the it list -- the erotic capital list -- have as much to do with polytropism as they do with confidence.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Reflection: Still Here

Signing a lease one more time. Moving into a second year in an under-200 square foot studio that has been better to me than its larger predecessor. My favorite apartment/unit ever, if you go back a bit, was an attic. But this little room with the corridor and the separate bathroom: It's of a scale that's easy to decorate. And putting it online motivates me to do just that. My problem has never been finding the wherewithall to function; it's finding the motivation. It's hard for me to do things because they feel comfortable or because they create aesthetic pleasure. It doesn't click; it doesn't connect. The question has already been: But who will see it? Who will it please? I can't live life as a tree in a forest. If no one hears, I don't make a sound. If no one watches, nothing is tidy. There's this great need to be observed by loved ones. And the great motivator has always been: for you. Living my life online makes me live it brighter and more according to custom.

So, understanding that, maybe it wouldn't come as such a surprise to persons from long ago co-op days that one of the niche topic areas I have moved into, on Squidoo and elsewhere, is designing small spaces. This is the recent Squidoo page that has gone the highest: Shabby Chic Studio Apartment

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Memory: After All These Years

Something I will never forget: the sight of Brazil nuts -- those really huge ones -- working their way slowly down into the fingers of a food handler's glove.

It was a dozen years ago. We were on our way to a potluck hosted by one of the members of our poetry group. He was scooping edibles out of the bins at Ray's Ranch Market. I called his attention to the fact that, well, most things made it into baggies, but he was scooping the Brazil nuts into something else... like maybe a glove out of the box on the counter.

He realized, hey, I was right. "Well, we can't let this go to waste," he said. "That wouldn't be environmental of us." He got a twisty label and wrote the bin number on it. He used the twisty to seal the wrist of the glove up neatly.

Something else I will never forget: the look on the face of one of the poetry group ladies when he sat the Brazil nut glove down on the coffee table amidst the other hoers d'ouvres.

I repeated the story the other day. "That was in my manic days," he said. "I don't do things like that any more."

"Mellowed?" I asked.

"Medication," he said.

Ah! I remember how he arrived in the woods for a camping trip, coincidentally, on the first day of hunting season. He briefly had the idea of playing his guitar real loud and scaring the bears away. "Would I give my life for a bear?" he'd asked.

I repeated that story. The bears deserved it, he said, but he didn't have the guts.

He has talked about visiting a couple times over the years. And finally did. He was here for a week recently. We went out to the beach at Discovery Park. He climbed over a little log fence so he could see better over the cliff. I called his attention to what the sign said about staying this side of the fence. "I didn't see it," he said, "Well, don't tell Seattle parks."

Oh , there's a few things maybe to not tell Seattle. He likes to press flowers see...

It ain't a bad thing, though, is it? Still crazy after all these years

Saturday, May 28, 2011

In Between: Tunes our Minds Play

I never know what song I will hear in Walgreen's -- or what my ears will tell me I heard. I have located the song now on Youtube, and the refrain is "Burnin' for you". Ah, but what I heard (over and over and over) there in Walgreen's was "I'm done running, I'm 32."

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Reflection: The Writing Life

I am making (kind of) a living writing these days, but it's not quite the type of writing I might have imagined once upon a time. For those of us who do write for wages, that is often the case. I have a friend who makes his living -- really -- writing articles about women's clothing.

In these parts, though (in my studio apartment studio, I mean) the theme is, "You look in an associate's, but you'd look better in a doctorate. Oh, too large? We have that in a bachelor's and a master's as well. "

It may not be my adolescent image of the writing life, but I like writing articles about nursing. I believe in the cause, and there's endless information. (To think, less than a year ago, I didn't know the difference between an ADN, a BSN, and a DNP. Now I can distinguish the AACN, the AANP, ANA... And, ah, I have a talent for locating white papers and project proposals and endless lists.)

But it's nice to do those other types of writing, too, the ones from the days of once upon a time -- and the ones I picked up along the way. I am slowly pulling them back in.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Reflection: Supine

That's quite an old picture, but it relates to the (soapbox) topic of the day.

I am lucky to be (for the moment at least!) earning most of my income at home writing. It's not just for mental reasons that it's easier. Some days I do several hours of work laying down. It's very common for me to research laying on my side and then compose paragraphs in my mind while lying very still on my back. After a while, I will sit up in and type quite a bit in a short time. If it appears that I spend half an hour immobile and then half an hour writing furiously... well, often I have been working the whole time, and far more efficiently than if I forced myself to sit up at the computer.

I imagine there are people here and there who have been diagnosed with chronic fatigue, or migraines perhaps, who have low muscle tone in their necks. For me, it's not bad enough to be a migraine -- the discomfort just toes the line between tiredness and headache -- but when I was a child, I called it a headache... and I was ignored. I remember that when I started morning kindergarten, I complained of daily headaches. It was because my teacher got after me when I rested my head on the desk, and my neck simply did not want to hold head up for three hours at a stretch.

I still feel better physically when I don't have to go too many hour at a stretch with my head unsupported. I even suspect the neck issue plays some role in the body ache issues I get sometimes -- like maybe it adds a bit of physical stress and brings my endurance down. I've always (when I've had the option) done a fair amount of my mental work lying down... especially the composition stage of writing. I have a great verbal memory, so I can do that! Yet to display so much of what looks like immobility... I imagine that has contributed at times to people seeing me as less mentally capable than I am.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Reflection: Always a Rose

A bit more audio today! I like the surprising little twist at the end of this poem -- "Always a Rose" quite a round-about little expression of love. I had recorded it on Audioboo, and when I visited it today, I saw it was wearing a little 'tweet badge', tweeted, it appears, by the Audioboo company.
I'm still doing a weekly poetry read for a friend's BlogTalkRadio, but I've been doing it live, so it's extra discipline to record... but I'm getting into the rhythm of writing 50 paid articles, and still doing the other projects. I've done a lot of recording very recently.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Memory: Two Seattle Icons

Why a memory and not a reflection? Ah...

Times have changed, and some familiar Seattle icons are among the casualties. It's easier than it used to be to get hooked up to the internet -- if you don't have your own service, you can get ninety minutes on the library computers or take a little portable computer to any one of a number of coffee shops. It's a different world than when the Online Coffee Company opened their doors. In March 2011, they shut those doors -- yes, all three locations, even though the original Capitol Hill location seemed busy enough when I would go there. Major economic problems. Maybe they expanded too much. not anticipating the difficult economy, not anticipating the changing world.

As for Twice Told Tales, the glass on the door of the U-District store is broken now. It didn't take long after they moved out for that to happen. But the note says that they're moving online, that the Capitol Hill branch will stay open in its physical form... and not to worry about the kitty cats, they found them a good home.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Reflection: Soundbite

I have been doing poetry (and occasional prose) pieces on this BlogTalk radio show for a while... live since January. I will include a piece here. I have been listening to shows tonight and cringing a bit. There was one show where there was no co-host and I talked quite a bit... except that I giggled more than I talked. Sentence. Giggle. Sentence. Giggle. That was hard to listen to. "Shut up, Karen, and read!" I was thinking.

I went back in the archives a while for this:

Listen to internet radio with Alex Crabtree on Blog Talk Radio

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Reflection: Occupational Therapy with Cyber-Slime

Sometimes I am struck by how much my netbook is like me. I have determined that the dear netbook has a processing disorder... no, no, I am not talking about its hard drive, I mean more of a sensory processing disorder. It's hypo-responsive to some stimuli.

It happened off and on for a couple months: There were several keys that would sometimes be difficult to use and then sometimes go out altogether. (Ever tried to paste in periods at the end of sentences?) Ah, but then it would be fine again, completely fine.

When one of the afflicted keys would go out, they would all go out. When one of the afflicted keys would return, they would all return. I wondered if temperature changes were causing condensation. It appeared to be something more than dirt, and yet -- here's where the story starts to get strange -- I learned that it really liked the yellow cyber-slime I bought to clean it. I mean, it really liked it. I mean, those keys could be the cleanest ones on the whole keyboard, but if I took a moment to massage them with cyber-slime, voila, they worked again! Like magic! Over and over again, the trick worked. As odd as it sounds, it's no coincidence. It might take a few therapy sessions over the course of a day before the keyboard is ready to work smoothly for an extended period, but then things will really kick back in gear and it will be fine for a long time.

I am actually at a bit of a loss to explain this. Is something slightly warped or out of shape? Or... Well, I've heard that occupational therapists sometimes have some success using sensory materials to rewire the processing systems of children with autism or SPD. Whatever the underlying cause, it appeared that my netbook just needed a little occupational therapy.

Now here's something that relates (though it doesn't involve netbooks or cyber-slime). I've added quite a bit to it recently, and it's probably the best job I've done telling my own life story on a Squidoo lens or a webpage: Memoir of a Hyporesponsive Child

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Reflection: The Illusion of Privacy

There are parties downstairs at my apartment building a couple times a year. We munch, we chat. Someone that I have spoken to at those occasional gatherings -- and said hello to on the elevator now and then over the years -- said a curious thing. He said he has wanted to talk to me at times, but I seem like a private person.

Private? That is very much not how I see myself (and it is probably not how people see me who communicate with me mostly online). It tends to floor me when people say that. I think the misconception stems from people mistaking indifference for resistance. I am not more resistant to people getting in my face; I am simply more indifferent... to those who don't.

Once again, it's underwhelment masking as overwhelment. I am drawn (when I'm drawn) to people who are more intense than the norm, more emotional, more over-the-top, and often more needy. Interaction has to simply sizzle. Normal interactions tend to pass below the threshhold needed to... to stir up anything at all in me beyond the intellectual awareness that, hey, there's another human in the vicinity. The irony is if that person had been more in my face, they might have broken through that false veneer of privacy. Some people have created strong bonds that way. The illusion of privacy is more apt to vanish if you're the kind of person who (marvelous in my eyes!) can't contain your energy within your own borders.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Reflection: Different Ways of Experiencing

I think a lot of people, at this point, have at least heard of the brain chemical dopamine. Among the many things it does... Well, I've heard it described in this way: It makes things pop out from the background and seem relevant. It intensifies them. (The picture on the right, which had quite a lot of local contrast added, is intended to represent higher dopamine perception.)

Me, I perceive things more like the picture on the left. I know -- I mean, I can tell -- I don't have normal dopamine processing. As an example... The ayuderdic herb, mucuna pruriens, is one of the only things that naturally contains the most direct precursor of dopamine. It has legitimate medical uses. Some people, if they weren't used to it, would find that it made them more than usually cheerful or confident. Some would find that it sent them right over the edge into anxiety, agitation, mania -- like caffeine, but likely worse. (Some of the disorders that frequently show dopamine overactivity: schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, anxiety.) My reaction to mucuna pruriens is that is calming and sometimes sleep-inducing. I consider it a preventative measure when it comes to bad dreams.

Sometimes coffee brings me down, too. Going to sleep on stimulants is not an uncommon reaction... for a person with ADHD. I don't have ADHD, but there are common threads. There's a theory that people with ADHD procrastinate so that they can add excitement to a task, so they can stir up enough stimulants in their brain that they are actually able to do the task. Me, I don't do that. It's when it comes to human relationship, very specifically, that I behave as an underwhelmed person. I have consistently, across most of my life, been attracted to people who are far, far more emotional than the norm, who are simply over the top. I have consistently been attracted to situations -- human situations -- where the stakes were high. My emotions are aroused. My bonding impulses come more strongly into play. Low stakes human situations fail to motivate me to the point where... where I can function.

I think it would fly in the face of logic, for a lot of people, that my reactions to certain substances would be characteristic of the underwhelmed as opposed to the overwhelmed. And yet it seems so obvious to me. I am the polar opposite of the hyperaroused person... when it comes to just strolling around. (Though yes, I do respond in intense, 0 to 90 ways to a very few things -- the same ones, predictably, year in, year out... Hey, do you think the light in the corner stands out maybe even a little more on the picture on the left, where there is so little contrast. maybe that's why I calm a little on stimulants. More of the world starts popping out a little and commanding my interest.)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Reflection: The Fear Response(less)

We were at the bus stop by the main drag of the U-District when the 43 came up the road, wearing the wrong sign, like it was going toward Wallingford. A woman seemed to get very excited; at first I thought she was frustrated because she thought she was on the wrong side of the street. "It's going toward..." I said.

She called me the B-word several times. "That's what you are!" she shouted... or maybe she didn't quite shout, but she said it loudly. People around us heard. I'm not sure what all she said. Her face was pretty near mine.

Most people, I imagine, would not have felt actual fear in that situation. Yet I think there would have been some physiological response, some quickening of the pulse, some startle response somwhere. I was aware, once again, how in me there was... just nothing.

Humans are designed to have a fear response that precedes conscious thought. This is how nameless fear -- that I'm afraid, but I don't know why sensation -- begins. It's strongest in the trauma-disordered, but it's in most of us to some extent. I'm hard pressed to think of a time -- even one time in my life -- when I felt nameless fear. The conscious awareness of exactly what afraid of tends to precede any physiological response.

I've read it: Neurologically, attraction (and I mean the word in a broad sense!) is a close cousin of fear; they're both changes in arousal levels, and they often involve the very same chemicals. We're supposed to undergo these subtle little changes in our arousal levels. They're supposed to be highest in response to novel situations. In novel social situations, my arousal levels don't change. They are so low that... I would say they'd make folks' heads swim, except that folks don't see the situation for what it is.

I don't experience nameless fear, but there have been times I have been irresistibly drawn to those who do. There have been times someone has behaved inexplicably toward me and instead of standing there impervious, like I did with the woman at the bus stop, I have experienced emotion at the level... the level that I love, love, love to experience emotion. And then I have wanted to dance that person off on a white horse.

I do experience intense fear. Mostly it's aroused by the fear of losing those who manage to evoke strong emotion in me.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Evening Nigh's Year in Reflection 2

And so we have moved into January, I commented to the summer basil. Many people would, I imagine, say that it is the basil plant's presence here in January that seemed most improbable. It appears I have not an annual but a (very) tender perennial. The tender perennial would take some work to maintain through winter even if it had not had an encounter with the Crips... I mean the thrips. Oh, but I decided to care for a basil plant, and a basil plant is just not the sort of thing to object to being cared for. And so here we are: Scraggly and speckled, we make new green leaves.

Ad so this is the second annual... well, not Year in Review, but Year in Reflection. Some of my favorite soapbox posts this past year have been, once again, on the subject of attachment: A Loss of Pliability, A Glimpse of Heaven, and The Kitty Carryall Metaphor -- a piece that feels like more than a year ago. This very related one one goes back to a time early last year when I was attacked and had my purse stolen: Situational Strengths There are others that wear that favorite label "Soapbox Post". Though...

It has sometimes been a struggle to write regularly on this blog in recent months. There is a three-fold reason: There have been weeks that I have freelanced 70 or 80 hours a week. I have done well with the writing, but there is a separate project that... well, I did not even get paid for. I learned, if I didn't know already, that I have trouble tracking information across the columns and rows of a spreadsheet -- which maybe relates to Mirror Writing. I'm getting more efficient at the writing thing, and working on pulling all my other writing activities back in -- though tiredess has a flu-like pain spreading once more into the shoulders and fingers.)

There are times I have wondered if there was anyone out there reading. (Or should I say who is out there reading?) And there are times, conversely, the blog posts have gotten channeled back into letters. This blog grew out of Letters to... (Who was it years ago who said he preferred the letters over the stories, to publish the letters?) Conversation on a Bus came straight out of a old letter. And the writing, the 'soapbox posts' and other things, can still be siphoned off into letters. (It Was Then That the Fox Appeared)

But this blog is in my resolutions. I'm contemplation re-enrolling it in day camp. (It did a Creative Every Day Challenge last year, with weekly sharing sessions and show and tell, but it didn't attend real often.)