A half hour is not enough, confirmed

Due to temporary shifts in my schedule over the next couple of days, I had to move my personal training session to today at 5:30 AM so as not to miss it completely this week.

Today. At 5:30.

I have conclusively proven despite the itty bitty dataset that I absolutely cannot function completely without a full hour to let the brain spool up.

Sewing

I am now writing this at noon-ish after having come back, eaten a bit of breakfast, and taken a 3 hour nap (though I do want to say I was in bed before 10 so I stood a reasonable chance of getting enough sleep for a 5 AM wake-up). This means that I am now more or less properly awake, have been working on modifying a gambeson so it properly fits me (this is a rant for another time), and the Sock Puppet is well awake and functioning but much more focused on making me miserable about tomorrow’s grading.

Which I guess is something? I dunno.

On the plus side, I was able to get a breakfast burrito from Guzman y Gomez just as they opened this morning and then trundle it home and eat it like a half-stunned cro-magnon, and that’s also something. It’s the closest thing to a proper breakfast burrito that I can find on this hemisphere and this general time zone. I could make my own but let’s be honest, if I can’t push pieces of metal around without forgetting what I was doing or what count I was on, do you really want me working a gas stove in any capacity?

In additional positive news, the weather is much cooler these days. I don’t like warm weather. Well, no. I don’t like hot weather. Yes I know I’m in the wrong town for that. But today is rainy and gray and I absolutely love those kinds of days, especially when I don’t have to be out in them and can stare out the window and watch the mist gather on the glass.

There’s a really interesting parenting article about alternatives to spanking that I managed to find, which I thought was just as applicable to adults — particularly on how to deal with yourself. I wanted to write a bit about it, but the only problem is I lost the link so I have no clue what the page was or where. If I find the article again I’ll share.

That said, be kind to yourself, and if you can’t function at 5:30 in the morning know that you are not alone.

An hour is not enough

I don’t ramp up fast unless there’s fear for my life involved. By this I mean that if I need to be properly awake by a certain hour so I’m not the equivalent of drunk behind the wheel due to sleepiness, I need to be awake for about an hour. Unless the house is like on fire or something.

Or so I thought. This experiment is showing me that I need at least a half hour to spool up into a consciousness functional enough to sit a computer and type things, which means if I’m giving myself an hour between waking and putting my butt in a car seat, I get maybe half an hour to get other things done. That’s just not enough.

I do harp on about time.

I suspect this time-buffer between waking and being truly awake can shorten significantly if I get more than 5 hours of sleep, but I can’t seem to tackle more than one big issue at a given time and I’m already getting up at 0530 which I’m writing sarcastically in military time but honestly the hour just offends my sensibilities.

Also, I have not at all accounted for the inexplicable sudden desire my cat Odin has for cuddles right this very second. I mean right this second. It took me a full three minutes to one-handedly type this and the previous sentence due to the need for cat cuddles.

Odin

Also also, a friend who read my previous post has asked about the Sock Puppet of Self Doubt, which I think I’ll write up as a separate entry, but which I’ll briefly describe here as a personification of the voice that may not always be audible, but is definitely constantly present, that tears down everything that I think is correct, reasonable, or functional about myself. I personify it as a sock puppet because it usually doesn’t say anything really original, and certainly not insightful, and sock puppets are generally harmless things that can inspire contempt in the right contexts.

…It’s really clear I need to get more sleep.

Now, if I didn’t have to wake up at 0500 tomorrow morning…

Half an hour goes by really fast

I have never had a good grasp of the passage of time. I used to think that it was just a thing, you know, no one ever really does have a good grasp of the passage of time, but revelations about my neurology show that it’s actually more acute for me than I thought. Or imagined.

The Sock Puppet is awake this morning. Didn’t take long to spool up.

I am not a morning person. I appreciate mornings in a mechanical sense; I can, with effort, shake my mind to some relative plateau of awareness, and I like the quiet and the dim gray light. But morning s are not a natural state for me. Part of it, I suppose, is the wheeling and churning of my head which I thought everyone dealt with — I thought it was just a natural part of being human.

Again, this particular wheel-spinning appears to be more severe and constant that the majority of the human crowd.

Why am I focusing on differences so much? Because I have always felt wrong, never quite right, always hiding some secret fatal flaw. Other people can start their assignments on time. Early, even. Not me. Never me. I managed it only once. It was nice. Never been able to do it again.

So how am I here this morning? Or yesterday morning? Or the day before? It’s not a big leap to stand up a little bit after my alarm goes off and turn on the computer. The rest sort of carries itself. But I do have to fight inertia. A lot of inertia, in fact. There’s a lot of brinkmanship with my own mind, a small distraction, a gentle shove or tap as momentum takes hold so I can get at least a little bit of desired behavior.

If I’m aware of the manipulation I’ll oppose it entirely.

I’ve talked a lot about intrinsic and extrinsic motivations with people, and possibly on this blog. I honestly can’t remember. Extrinsic motivation is a poor motivator for anyone — you take a kid who loves playing with her Nintendo DS, start giving her rewards for playing, and she’ll stop. She’ll lose interest. Human trait.

Intrinsic motivation, on the other hand — hooks that keep her interested because she’s interested, for whatever reason, with no outside pressures to maintain that interest — that can last for a lifetime, and it can be consistent. For me, though, even that waxes and wanes. Does it do that for other people? I’m asking because since my diagnosis, I question most of my set-points in relation to neurotypical set-points. I used to not do that, and it made me miserable.

That impostor syndrome? I have that with life in general.

So, then, why am I here? Maybe it’s a bit of morning pages. Maybe it’s because I really do want to make better use of this blog and this seems to be working, for the moment (the Sock Puppet is awake, but distractible). Maybe it’s because I like the sensation of having accomplished something before I’ve even headed off to work. Actually, that might be a good part of it.

But I think it’s a way of proving a lot of the negative internal mechanisms wrong. “No one cares what you think” then no one will read this and no harm no foul. “Why bother writing” because writing helps organize thought and God knows I need help with organization any chance I get. “You’re writing into the ether” so see no harm no foul and also, someone might read this and get a notion that they’re not alone.

I don’t often talk about the internal things because I’ve been humiliated by people for expressing them; mocked for being juvenile or lesser or weaker or trivial or whatever. And it’s happened consistently enough, on and off, that I just don’t go poking around the soft thinky bits in public.

Hence the morning time slot, to get around these defense mechanisms.

So maybe this is also a stab at self-improvement. A way to get inured to the things that mortified me in my earlier years. Own the things that are mine despite the mockery and derision of others. My friends don’t do this, and on the rare occasion that they do and I tell them I’ve been hurt, they take me seriously, and that’s what matters, so the shit-stain tactics of strangers shouldn’t get me down.

That’s a road to ruin, but maybe it’s worth taking.

At any rate, a half hour isn’t a very long time and it goes by quickly. But the fifteen minutes it took for me to write all of this hasn’t, in fact, gone by quickly at all. Not that it went by at an agonizing pace. It just went by. There’s probably a lesson in mindfulness here, but it’s too early in the morning for me to internalize.

See you tomorrow.

Waking up is hard to do

I remember when I lived in New York how much I loved and dreaded winter because it meant waking up and going home in the dark.

wakeuptunnel

Now that I live much closer to the equator, it’s not as much of an issue. Except now my start time is 0730, which means I have to wake up at 0530 to have any semblance of consciousness by the time I put my butt in a driver’s seat.

I forgot just how hard it is to wake up without the sun. It’s not even that cold right now, though it finally feels like autumn, which is a blessed relief because I’m no fan of stewing overnight in my own sweat. But when the weather’s too cold, waking up is as close to pain as not getting actually hit in the toe with a hammer will allow.

I’m also disoriented from the short week, or long weekend. It’s Tuesday, and while I did go to my swordsy thing last night, I didn’t go to work before that (holiday in Australia), so I have this strange sense of bifurcated time. Well, not strange. Well, okay, yes, strange, but not unfamiliar. (My sense of time has never been, as they say, accurate).

So, yeah. Waking up. Not even the kookaburras were in the mood to cackle me into some semblance of consciousness. It’s nice, though, because the Sock Puppet of Self Doubt seems to have an even harder time waking up so that part of my write-every-morning plan appears to be right on track. The only thing that would make things easier for me is if that freaking Windows 10 mandatory WOULD YOU LIKE TO UPDATE NOW NO REALLY YOU SHOULD DO IT NOW IT WILL BE SO SIMPLE AND WE SWEAR (snort) TO NOT HORRIBLY FUCK EVERYTHING UP FOR YOU SO UPDATE, OKAY? statement didn’t keep waking my computer out of sleep. It takes about 10 minutes for it to get up to speed, and I’m not quite capable of getting out of bed mere moments after my alarm rings, yet, so there’s wasted writing and work-before-Sock-Puppet-wakes time, too.

Of course, I usually get to bed around 10 and I don’t usually follow up a sword session with a gym session because usually I’m sensible. Usually. But anyway. It’s time for me to head out, so tomorrow is another day.

An experiment

Less of an experiment, really, and more of a thing to try to see how I go. I have a nice blog with a nice site and it sits sort of empty and to add to that I’ve got issues with sitting down at my desk to actually compose something to post. Because I sit here and think how presumptuous I’ve got to be to believe that my perspective on anything is interesting.

It’s ridiculous when you look at it in black and white.

At any rate, the culprit behind thinking who wants to read what I write is the Sock Puppet of Self Doubt (I’ve talked about him before). And with a fairly new work schedule that requires me to be up at stupid o’clock, I’m up and running before it is. It’s a narrow band of time, but it’s long enough for me to get something written.

So you get two benefits, if we’re working on the assumption that what I write here is amusing or interesting or useful (or, if I’ve really done a good job, some mix of the three). One, you get under-the-internal-censor writing, which is a little risky, because let’s face it, the Sock Puppet is a metastasized exaggeration of a mental function that once served to protect me; and two, you get what might actually be — wait for it — a post every weekday.

I can feel the anxiety building as I type! Yay!

That said, may my Australian and Kiwi readers have an ANZAC day of their preference, and may the rest of you have, um, have a day? Maybe a nice one. No, definitely a nice one.

Creative re-entry

There must be something to the notion of a creative come-down. I just spent the better part of the last 48 hours that weren’t occupied by sleeping working on characters and structure for a podcast drama project that’s been in the works for maybe a year now, with another person who came to Brisbane specifically for this (and to visit another close friend for that person’s birthday, but that person is actually involved in this project as well, so it all kind of blends together).

It’s not something I’ve done before, this kind of intense collaborative work on a single non-interactive narrative project, but it’s reminiscent of other times in my life where creativity was a much greater part of daily life (MFA studies, planning and running LARPs, that sort of thing).

And I’m a wreck right now. I feel low, rendered, defeated. Lost, maybe? Maybe not lost, because I’ve got a good vision of how to move forward with so much good stuff with so many fantastic people. I think the sense is closer to bereft, because God help me I saw an article about a stolen ’61 Impala and I just burst into tears (dad was a hot rodder and owned a … I think ’60 Impala, maybe ’61, in high school; featured in more than one yearbook page).

Again, I’m a wreck. Just writing those words, I’m a wreck. For reasons that are related to character exploration I’m not in the strongest place, feeling pretty poorly about myself, but I’m not new to that kind of emotional surfing. I do it all the time, though maybe I haven’t done it as extensively as I did it this weekend for a long time. So I may be out of practice.

So here’s a question: is there a sense of loss/bereavement at the end of a particularly fecund stretch of creative work/time? I know I’ve been through stretches that feel like this, but the circumstances were different, and it was probably 15 years ago. Is it the same thing? Have I been out of this kind of circle so long that I’ve lost the sense of the come-downs?

I know more than intellectually that there’s a lot more fun work to come, but for the moment I feel hollow and alone, and that seems like exactly the opposite of where I should be considering all the good stuff that happened yesterday and today. We’ll see how I’m going tomorrow.

Representation matters, part N of [infinite]

Representation matters, still and always. Leslie Jones tweeted in response (one of a longer thread of tweets) to people complaining that she’s been pigeonholed as the only non-scientist in the upcoming Ghostbusters film.

To be clear — I had some reservations about just that, but most of them were fairly small, especially after seeing Patty in action in the trailer. But then this Twitter thread cropped up on the interwebz. Jones talks about a message she received from  Joanna Briley, writer-performer of SWIPE THIS! MY LIFE IN TRANSIT*, who herself is an MTA token booth clerk; Briley had been asked by a reporter about her thoughts on Jones’s role in the new film.

Once Jones quoted Briley’s message, she herself added:

Jones echoes what I was hoping – that despite the negative implications of casting the only person of color as the character in the “blue-collar” role, there are still important and positive things to say. Not as a sloppy-seconds kind of thing, either; despite my tastes for advanced degrees, I do feel that the societal insistence on university education is often a scam — a way to mire people in debt, a way to force people to conform to a certain way of functioning in society. I’m not talking about the specifics of the coursework someone may or may not take, I’m talking about the overall notion that the only way you have a future is if you have a college degree, and that if you don’t have one, you’re somehow lesser. That a token boof clerk is lesser. That a bus driver or a fast food kitchen staffer is somehow lesser.

This is wrong, it’s destructive, and it’s hugely manipulative. Regular people save the world every day.

I was looking forward to the movie before — I love the original, and some of the things I love in the original I’m seeing in this rendition, too: primarily, the positive, supportive relationships among the primary characters. They have their troubles, they have their misunderstandings, but they respect and support each other through and beyond these things. Though a 2.5 minute trailer is not a whole film, I saw no evidence that any of the scientists looked down on the MTA worker, took her less seriously, or thought lesser of her. And delightfully, the MTA worker didn’t automatically assume personal inferiority in any real way. I hope that this is true for the movie as a whole. Just remember that if anyone asks you if you’re a god, you always say yes.

 

* Sadly, the show’s run is over — but any readers in the NYC area should keep an eye out as it may get workshopped or performed elsewhere.

Unholy chorus

Yeah, it’s 2016. That number is sort of meaningless in a day-to-day sense, and I suspect it is for a large number of people. Still, it’s a good milestone for taking a look back on things, even if the moment is arbitrary.

My 2015 was somewhat better than 2014, which I’m grateful for, but there’s still a lot of heavy reckoning that emerged in the latter half of ’15 that is absolutely not resolved. For some of it I have some ideas about what to do, or how to approach the problems; for others, I’m in open ocean with no life vest.

Maybe it’s ’cause I’m getting older (I can feel my metabolism shifting, which is simultaneously amusing and annoying); maybe it’s because my past has caught up with me in terms of the whole ADHD thing. Maybe it’s because this is more or less what happens to people when they hit their late 30′s/early 40′s, this re-evaluation of life and priorities and societal rules and internal assumptions. And I could take a few column inches to talk about all those things.

But I decided that I didn’t want to enter 2016 on hard ruminations, on treading the paths that, while familiar, are still difficult and will be there on January 2 and beyond. Nope, I wanted to enter the new year with a really good laugh. I mean, really good.

My friend Sam introduced me to the Duck Army a few months back, and I had the opportunity to share it with my mom today, and we both laughed (though only I laughed until I cried). That kind of catharsis sure helped me, and so I want to share it with you.

The basic premise is this: Charlie Murphy (or at least that’s the name this Vine user goes by) finds a sales bin full of rubber duck dog squeak toys. You squeeze one, it “exhales,” but on release it makes a vaguely moaning-quack noise. But he suddenly leans in and presses down on a stack of them. The resulting sound is deeply disturbing and — to me — pants-pissingly funny.

For added fun, watch Adam Savage build a contraption to cause the same kind of mayhem, with similarly satisfying results.

Happy new year!

Chunky salsa, or the agony of planning

Planning, or scheduling — the two sort of blur into one another in my mind — they’re both some of the most difficult things for me to do. There’s a physiological reason for this, but before I knew about that, I made enemies with these concepts in other ways.

As a kid, I resented these external demands on my time. I know I’m certainly not alone, but this sense that outside forces were always obligating me to do things at certain times for certain durations became a real sticking point, and that perceived childhood injustice has carried through over the years; childhood injustices often do.

Because of this resentment — people imposing their rules on my  time — I never learned how to build my own plans, or how to schedule my own time. Again, there are physiological issues making the process even harder, but because I refused to learn the procedures that others used to seemingly shove their priorities down my throat, I ended up completely unmoored when it comes to a very basic aspect of human life. Seriously, I’m like the Underpants Gnomes. There’s a void where procedure should be. A question mark. Nothing.

Seriously, no Phase 2 AT ALL.

Seriously, no Phase 2 AT ALL.

As I got older, I began to see the need for plans and procedures and schedules. But because I didn’t have the skillset (since I rejected it out of hand years before), I had to cobble a process or twelve out of thin air. For many people, that wouldn’t have been much of a problem. Maybe a bit of a learning curve, but nothing more serious. For me? It was hell. Absolute hell. The vaguely planlike things I made had no anchors, no links to the functions of the real world, so even when I was able to follow them they failed miserably.

And that made me more resentful. It took a lot of hard work to make even the most tenuous of schedules, and when they failed, I ended up hating the world — feeling like the universe was actively trying to kick me in the solar plexus.

Cut to now. Again I am made painfully aware of the need for planning, but I am now painfully aware of the short-circuits in my brain that make it impossible to do like most other people do it. Sounds awful, yeah? Well, most of me agrees. But there’s a small part of me that feels like this time I have a chance to build a process that will actually work for me. I’ll be working out some process ideas on a project I’ve been putting off for a while: making a padded vest/jacket for swordplay. I have a gambeson that almost sort kinda fits, but because I’m a fat woman I don’t fit in fat man things. Chest + hips. Always. So, time to make something that’s built for me.

Never mind that I’ve only made an article of clothing for myself once, back in high school, and if we’re being completely honest, my mom did most of the work.

So, here are my initial thoughts around making this vest.

  1. Let things happen in non-contiguous chunks. If I think about anything involved as a single contiguous process my brain static howls and I get overwhelmed and it’s pretty much over for whatever it was I wanted to do. I used to do this all the time, because I worried that if I didn’t push through and get most or all of something done in a continuous process, I’d lose the plot and not be able to competently pick up from where I left off. This worry has, on some occasions, borne itself out. So, it’s okay if a day or two, or even a week, passes by between chunks. That said, I need to find ways to keep the project present enough in my mind so I don’t just forget about it entirely. Not entirely sure how this will work, but I may designate certain times of certain days for getting things done that are related to this vest. That simple procedure has failed in the past, so I need to bolster it somehow.
  2. Look for good places to delineate chunks. For the vest, one part might be buying the things I need. Later, I can take measurements, then maybe plan them out on paper to build a pattern. However, it’s perfectly all right if drawing out the pattern becomes its own chunk later. And it’s all right if each chunk has its own chunks — concatenation. I find that if I have end states in mind, it’s easier for me to reach back and know what I need to do and in what order to achieve that end state, so for me, I look for ways to delineate chunks that offer up a clear and concise end state that I can put in a list or an outline. Even if I never write that list down, those sub-end states lead to a final end state, so I stand a better chance of remembering the process without having to resort to lists or documents that I will either lose or never look at again.
  3. Don’t hate yourself for having to chunk. I have no real idea how non-staticky people accomplish their organization. Maybe they do exactly what I’m doing — chunking, delineating, flexibly allotting time — just without constantly getting mentally derailed and spending a ton of energy to get thoughts back on track. So by going through this process of chunking, I’m not babying myself, I’m not catering to my own uselessness — I’m doing what most other people do and reducing the amount of extra effort I need to expend to simply linking up the chunks, like train cars. It still takes extra work, but at least I’m not spinning my wheels to keep my chunk train from turning into chunky salsa.

So, that’s what I have so far. I’ll keep you posted on progress with the vest (components bought, but that’s it), and throw up a blog post if I detail out my processes a bit more.

 

 

Three steps forward, two steps back

I know I talked about this around two months ago, so some of you may know that a little less than a year ago I got a diagnosis that I never would have expected, but in hindsight explains a whole lot of my life. It explains procrastination issues, it explains a decent chunk of my impostor syndrome, it explains part of my short temper and it neatly explains my utter inability to keep anything tidy or in order.

I have ADHD. I rate a little higher in hyperactivity than most women, but I mainly lie in the inattentive circle of the Venn diagram.

I’m telling you this (again?) for two reasons: one, I’m working through all of this, and it’s not easy, and I think well when I write (though I reserve the right to change my mind on conclusions in light of new thinking or information). I thought I’d been progressing reasonably well but life clattered and folded up on me over the course of the last few weeks and it’s clear I’m nowhere near any kind of resolution. The other reason is that this may be of some help to some of you out there.

I’ll clearly tag all posts related to this, so you can do a quick check, if that’s what interests you. But the reason I’m doing this is because, in all the literature available, there’s a lot of “just try these ways of organizing!” and aside from being a bit of an obvious fix, it doesn’t seem to dig much deeper than “just find new ways to keep your shit together!”

A lot of the methods presented in these books don’t work, at least not on the surface. And while everyone’s mileage may vary, I’ll share why they don’t work for me, because maybe you’ll see a little of yourselves in me, or maybe you’ll figure something out about you in contrast with my different issues. It’s all good; the main thing is that we both gain something from this exercise.

So, while I know better than to promise regular updates (we’ll be addressing underlying issues about that in a later installment), I will be posting stuff to help me clear the static in my head, or at least channel it, and you’re more than welcome to come along.