I’ve talked a bunch about time management, but these days I know it’s as much a neurological issue as it is a quirk. It’s not that I don’t have things to say, which is a really nice change of pace, but that the things I want to say are important enough to me to want to spend a reasonable amount of time to get them written with full attention and now you can see this temporal ouroboros starting to turn, can’t you?
I found the parenting article that I wanted to edge into self-care; I hit my 40th birthday and received so much love an esteem from friends and family all over the world I trip over myself to say thank you in a way that I feel is commensurate to the wonder that came my way; I ran out of my prescription and went a few days without it and oh my god what a bad idea that was. Also, not sleeping enough. That’s been happening more than I’d like.
So maybe a good-night missive? A wrap-up of the day that’s gone by? Surely that’s as useful as a pre-day rumination, since it seems I’m reasonably clear of the Sock Puppet of Doubt.
Oh, and on a quick side-note, among all the stuff I do, there’s HEMA, and since I’m reasonably fluent in Spanish and cannot resist history, I’ve been trying my hand at some primary document translations. Those will start to turn up soon, so if that’s your thing, I’ll be sure to mark those entries with clear categories and tags so you don’t miss what I’m up to.
I was thinking, yesterday, of preparation. It’s not something I have a really good grasp of outside of very formal or important situations, mainly because I seem to think that people, on the whole, don’t have to do much preparation to get smaller things done in their lives.
Like get dressed in the morning.
I know I stress less if I don’t have to make choices when my mind’s not up to speed, which is the majority of a morning. I can if the scope is limited (find error in text, fix error in text) but not if the scope is open (I literally have twelve different top combinations I can put on for work this morning OH GOD NO).
I’ve done that sort of thing before — prepping wardrobe at an hour where my brain’s warmed up and okay with picking things out — though I often fall out of the practice for any number of reasons. But yesterday I was thinking about preparation for tasks that are more complex than picking out clothes but far, far less complex than preparing for, say, a sword grading.
Like, for just about anything else that I do. I used to game my brain by approaching things i needed to do in a shallow spiral, so as not to kick up oppositional refusal. I might know I need to wash the dishes, but if I attempt a frontal approach, I get angry and overwhelmed (I know! Overwhelmed at dishes, what kind of bullshit is that) and won’t actually do it. But if I just go into the kitchen, and then, you know, wash a glass ’cause I need it, then, well, I’m aready there and I don’t have to do everything that’s in the sink and that’s when the dishes get done by me.
But for things that don’t trigger a resentment response, but instead an anxiety response — a feeling of inadequacy or errors yet to be committed — this prep angle sounds like it might just work.
For example, the primary source translating I do. I usually “sneak up” on it by opening up the appropriate PDF while working on a bunch of other things, and then let myself get drawn into the text. But that’s not ideal because I don’t have as much control over what part of the text snags me, and I usually end up working until I’m overtired and that has its own negative consequences.
Instead, I was thinking I could spend a little time specifically searching out a reasonable chunk of text — two, maybe three pages — of a passage that’s immediately relevant, and clip those pages into a separate file. My job is to translate those bits. If I want to do more, that’s fine, but I’m only responsible for this small number, which helps prevent the anxiety-overwhelm reaction that makes my brain static roar up and turns me useless for a while. I am pre-limiting the scope of things I want to do so I’m making fewer decisions and taxing the executive bits of my mind less.
I’m sure that for most of you this is blindingly obvious — there may be many of you thinking that someone who appears reasonably intelligent can’t possibly believe this is a new or novel concept that requires trying out. Well, let me welcome you to the land of impaired executive function. If it looks to you like it sucks, I assure you it sucks more than it looks.
At any rate, I’ll try this over the next few days and see if the benefits outweigh the effort required, thereby insuring I continue to do this sort of thing with low resentment. Resentment makes me quit doing a lot of things.
Things on my mind: I have some kind of back of the hand tendonitis. Haven’t done much research on it to see what I can do about it aside from ice and anti-inflammatories, but I know what causes it and no, I’m not going to back off the fencing. Not yet, anyway.
Also — need better forearm protection than the junior shinguards that I picked up. Maybe adult-sized shinguards? Eh.
I want to get back into translating primary documents. I was working on bits and pieces of Destreza texts, but I’ve lost the plot for a while now. I used to do it, in fact, in the mornings when I would wake up at 5:30 but didn’t need to be at work until 8:30, which meant I had more time at home to putter. I like having the extra time, but I am absolutely NOT waking up at 4:30. I can handle a lot of things, but not that.
I’ve managed to track down the article I mentioned in the previous post. Now I just need to either set aside enough time to write what I wanted to about it, or get functional enough of a morning to pull it off before going to work.
As a way to bleed nervous energy and the spinning-wheels sensations from off my brain, I’ve tried yet again to get into meditation. I usually use guided meditations, mainly because the prompts remind me to do things that I generally forget to do when I try to sit quietly and let my head become a large breezeway instead of an echo chamber, and for this I use apps. I’ve tried several, but the one that’s working currently is Calm. I came across it via the advice of Guy Windsor, and although its initial presentation put me off (I’m not sure why, though maybe it pinged my mistrust of pop-looking, superficial things), it’s actually very simple and robust and has a lot of good material, even at the free level (I’ve gone ahead and sprung for a year-long membership).
In particular it’s got nice meditations for getting to sleep, something that wasn’t always a problem but is increasingly so, these days.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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, 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.
I received this from a MTA worker:Hey Leslie, thanks for being you. A question was asked by a news writer about your role on your new movie
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 everyday.
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.