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flamingsword: Aziraphale, the flaming sword, and Crowley (Default)

Did you fit in as a kid? I didn't. And when kids would call me He-She and Hideous like they were my name, I would remind myself that people weirder than me were GODDAMN ROCKSTARS. David Bowie's very existence was a balm to my soul before I knew how to articulate any of what that felt like.

David Bowie was so singular and strange and beautiful that they made a movie just for him to be the Goblin King in. His music, his fashion sensibilities, his brave and open sensuality, he was my hero.

He was a gender nonconforming bisexual man in the public eye. He was my hero, gaily defiant and clever and wry. And as I grew as a person, his example grew with me. His kindness, his social awareness, the way he used his artistry to force the world to deal with him as his own thing - he used his weirdness as a superpower until it became one. He was such a rich and complex person that every time I rediscovered him there was always more to learn.

And I do not have that strength or generosity of spirit, but I will always aspire to it because of David Bowie.
flamingsword: Aziraphale, the flaming sword, and Crowley (Default)
I have some friends who think that since I'm really stable and don't get depressed often, that I must not get depressive thoughts often, which ... would be nice, if it were true? So now you guys get to look inside my head at what happens on a bad day. Superbetter has a Quest challenge to name five negative thoughts that occurred to you recently, and to dispute them using three specific tools. So this is stuff that happened during yesterdays' low patch.

I. Ghost should just leave me because I'm a resource drain.
II. I am going to get progressively worse, and then die.
III. I should give away my art supplies because I will never have the energy to use half of it.
IV. I should break up with [profile] otatma. It's not fair to expect him to wait around for me to have time for him where I feel like having a boyfriend.
V. Maybe I should just get rid of all my friends and possessions and go live in my mother's guestroom*.

Look at all likely causes for an event that's challenging you.
I. and IV. are caused by me taking other people's decisions away from them so that I can feel secure in being forever alone and not have to worry about losing other people's love by being unhealthy/unworthy. It's my need for certainty winning out over my need for happiness, because when I hurt, happiness is a foreign concept from some other continent where they speak funny sounding languages and wear bones in their hair.

Write down your thoughts, citing evidence both for and against your thought or reaction being accurate.
II. could happen, but since medical science tends to get better and not worse and my disease hits rich people as well as poor, it is getting well funded research. I could suddenly start progressing faster, but that is unlikely, and I am already taking steps to slow down the decline in my health.

Are the results all that bad? Am I blowing this out of proportion? How can I get what I want in a different way?
III. and V. Every time I'm about to move house I start thinking about giving things away. It makes people think I'm suicidal maybe, but there's nothing wrong with giving things away as long as I'm happy to do so. I am making too big a deal out of the move and out of the amount of possessions I own, since several people have offered to help move us, and were quite sincere. And I am being fatalistic about moving in with my mother because I am in pain and I automatically start disaster planning for worst case scenarios, and that is currently it.

(*and be miserable forever.)
flamingsword: Aziraphale, the flaming sword, and Crowley (Default)
Today I eventually got up and painted, even though waking up was hard to do. I startled hard out of sleep when the door shut, and couldn't get back down, so that always leaves me a little cranky, but it got overcome today. Woo.

I got the mori kei clothes mostly given to Katie, who looks adorable in them as expected, and I will try the others on Shaina before I send them off to Sairah.

I have made plans to meet up, read, and smell things in the future.

I coordinated with people today and got things done. According to the self-care app I use, I am supposed to attribute these successes to choices and actions I make rather than to things that are out of my control, but I don't feel that that would be intellectually honest or entirely accurate when I am only in control of 40-50% of the factors that govern my energy and motivation. I do well with what I have, and part of that doing well, is having clear sight about my locus of control. :/
flamingsword: Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not. (Seuss Activism)
Let's have a discussion!

I think the combative tone of our culture's political rhetoric has colored our expectations of what protest is supposed to look like; we are skewed towards interpersonal violence that diminishes the humanity of both parties. I would like to offer a new vision: we use human cognitive biases against them. Our brains are strange places with lots of firmware programming that we don't like to think about. Reciprocation, empathy, the enticement of inclusion, the pain of shunning: these things are hard-wired in for most of us. Getting a statistical majority on our side will be easier if we change a few tactics.

We should be nice to the people we're protesting. If we make it clear that we are suffering where they have to see it because their participating in the reform will make them better, happier people, they will be touched by the courtesy, and then they will be confused. Confused is great! Confused is not polarized against change, it's not combative: it gives us grey area to dialog inside of. Part of the confusion is that when we are nice to them, their instincts will tell them to be nice to us. Humans reciprocate, especially in person. We don't like eating in front of others who are not eating, and we don't like feeling indebted. Extending our empathy to include them will make it hard to not reciprocate. And once they empathize with us, even a little, we become part of their peer group.

Not that the V masks are not awesome, but the principle of anonymity would be working against us if we were all wearing masks. The fact that some of us have jobs that would be threatened by our identities becoming known is understandable. But it is also true that it is easier to dehumanize someone without a face, and to then commit violence on the Othered individual. Refusing to treat police and the opposition like enemies will erode their combative paradigm. Their actions will look and feel out-of-context, and we will use their awkwardness as a tool to restructure our civic dialog. We need Anonymous for the support of the faceless and those who must work in secret, but we need more human faces whose body language isn't defensive or aggressive, whose message is that there are no enemies, only a bunch of people in different parts of the same mess.

We need to be *for* things, not just *against* things. Complaining and being angry a lot gets old. Accentuating the positive is like a Jazz riff - some people can go all night. People like being positive about mutual goals, they like joining things and feeling like they have a common purpose. People will do a lot for peer-group inclusion, and if we start divesting the rich of their social currency, stop treating them with such deference, wean ourselves off of the cult of celebrity, perhaps they will feel pressure to align their goals with ours.

Think tactically about these emotions for a bit. What's missing? What have I proposed that won't hold water? I would like to workshop this a bit before bringing it before the Occupy Dallas General Assembly.
flamingsword: Aziraphale, the flaming sword, and Crowley (Dr. Reid)
Once you have learned to edit out behaviors that are actively threatening, controlling, or distancing, you can work toward building a sense of shared purpose. This union is the basis of therapeutic rapport. To better illustrate things to say and do, I'm going to translate common things therapists say into their component pieces.

"Hello, _____; my name is _____, and I'll be your therapist today. Our restrooms and water cooler are this way. Is there anything else you need before our session?" = "I have identified you, myself, and our relationship for this interaction and intend to respect the implied boundaries. I am anticipating your needs to ensure your comfort." Speak at a moderate pace. Respecting that new clients need time to orient and adjust themselves in the new environment is crucial in earning reciprocal respect. Rushing through the beginning is not relaxing, and is a disservice to both parties.

"I'm sorry to hear you're not feeling well. Let's see what we can do to fix that." = "I care about your pain. Let us work together to bring you to your normally healthy state."

The phrasing is important here. Saying that you're sorry to hear that someone has pain implies that you are not connected to the cause of it. You care; you do not feel obligation. WE are working on it because while they have come in for your help, your help is something you are accomplishing only with their permission and engagement, thus establishing the common goal. Never say "let me fix you." You are not fixing the person, only the pain. Implying that something is wrong with someone is diminishing and keeps them cut off from their sense of agency. Also it's insulting. Putting the pain in context of it being transitory establishes the premise for leaving it behind.

Orient the relationship.
Anticipate needs.
Respond warmly.
Express concern.
Share agency.
Denormalize pain.

If you master those, you have the fondness of your clients. That's really all you need to garner repeat business in our touch-starved, care-hungry culture. But if you want to reach beyond those into the realm of rehabilitation and improving the lives of clients while they are out of arm's reach, there are a few more skills that I have discovered so far.

Start with gentle pressure to relieve soreness, gradually increase to firm pressure to release muscle fibers. Working deeply into sore muscles before they're ready is painful and may cause clients to tense back up later. Work at the pace dictated by the body's responsiveness. Pick the arm up from a supine position until it is in the same pose that the client uses to type/use mouse/draft. "When you use your arms held out in front of you so much of the day, the muscles of the shoulder stiffen from overuse." Using words with motions provides a link between the posture and the idea that will keep coming back into their consciousness when they use that posture.

Hold the arm in one hand while pushing into the deltoids with the other. "Small muscle groups like this are not designed for continuous use. If you don't stretch the muscles back out at the end of the day it will just stay tense." Slowly stretch the arm over the head and through its full range of motion. "If you have a desk with an ergonomic keyboard tray, then you can sit with posture that doesn't hold the arms so far forward, so you don't hurt at the end of the day." Point out logical consequences of muscle tension. Don't assume that intuition will inform people who are used to ignoring their physical selves of their tension or the causes of it. Mention things like less pain, ease of movement, better appearance, and decreased chances of injury and dysfunction in association with health. Health is a general concept that people don't relate to as an aspiration, but vanity and pain relief are great motivators.

Anesthetize first, re-sensitize later.
Verbally integrate somatosensory habits.
Normalize consequences.
Strategize and inform.
Advocate ergonomics.
Motivate health.

I'm always looking for new ways to respect people and increase our enjoyment. It's why I find my job so fulfilling. Eventually this list will be added to, but it may be a while before I have enough new material to make a decent post.
flamingsword: Aziraphale, the flaming sword, and Crowley (Dr. Reid)
Who wants to be on the Asperger's/PDD-NOS/crazy person filter? If you are not already on it and wish to be, comment to be added. Also, check out my delicious page for an arseload of links on the subject.

Most of my success in relating to people is in knowing where to start. Normal people give you clues about acceptable topics to talk to them about by how they dress, how they represent themselves culturally. Nerds, people wearing band or movie paraphernalia, and fans of sports teams are particularly easy to distinguish visually. The rest I just ask. And that was hard to learn to do, but is now pretty easy - just wander up to someone and introduce myself and ask them what they're finding interesting and how they like whatever is going on. I make conversation. Conversational topics to share are most of why I read regular news and watch what little television I do watch. It requires a time investment to have something to share that's worth talking and thinking about, but it opens doors small talk can't, and it lets people get a feel for how you think from which they can gauge the best way to relate to you.

My confidence in approaching and asking for someone's attention signifies that I believe I have the right to do so and the capacity to be more fun than what they are currently doing. People are sensitive to that kind of prompting. I have acceptable losses on missed connections (usually about one in four conversations goes nowhere), but there are generally enough people around who aren't otherwise engaged that I can find someone to talk to. And then I just give us turns being entertaining to each other. We get to know each other through a process of each seeing how the other person connects with the previous thought and from the direction they take the conversation in, we get a sense of the shape of their mind. If the directions that you take the conversation in are acceptable, and if you yield turns in a timely and generous manner, conversations can go on for hours without becoming tedious or uncomfortable. In the course of one afternoon and evening, I once got a woman to tell me her entire life story. But if you are paying close attention and skilled at reading people, you can get to know about half of what is publicly available about that person in half an hour. It's quite fascinating.

Turn taking is very necessary, as are active listening, sending clear signals, and social rewarding. I'll hit those up next post.
flamingsword: Aziraphale, the flaming sword, and Crowley (Default)

Sometimes things don't go, after all,
from bad to worse. Some years, muscadel
faces down frost; green thrives; the crops don't fail,
sometimes a man aims high, and all goes well.

A people sometimes step back from war;
elect an honest man; decide they care
enough, that they can't leave some stranger poor.
Some men become what they were born for.

Sometimes our best efforts do not go
amiss; sometimes we do as we meant to.
The sun will sometimes melt a field of sorrow
that seemed hard frozen: may it happen to you.

Just got back from the memorial service for Albert, saw many faces that I remember the beta version of. There were recitations of poems and a song, and a couple of laptops with a picture slideshow. I talked a little at a podium about what Al had meant to me, listened to others talk about him, too. Last entry there were the stories, but this time there is how Albert made me feel. )

Carolyn spent the night at my place last night, crashed out on the futon. We had port and told crazy stories and caught up. I got more in touch with the good-feelings side of the loss, but that just made the loss sharper today. I'll take the win for feeling my feelings, though.
flamingsword: None can take the stars who do not reach. (Take The Stars)
When I look around, I think this: this is good enough.
And I try to laugh at whatever life brings,
'Cause when I look down I just miss all the good stuff,
And when I look up I just trip over things.
- Ani Difranco

I can't talk about Albert, really bring him to you, without telling you about how when he was happy the pitch and emphasis of his voice would bound all over his sentences like an over-excited Labrador. I can recall for you his face and the timbre of his voice saying, "If I took half the advice I gave, I wouldn't have these problems. )"
flamingsword: Aziraphale, the flaming sword, and Crowley (Default)
Hey, have I told you guys my "Alan Moore is living in quantum superposition as a fangirl" theory? No?

Recently I was reading this article on how scientists were trying to get a virus to exist in two quantum states simultaneously, and the difficulties doing it to larger organisms in the real world. To which I immediately scoffed, because there is an author/fangirl/chaos magician who does that all the time. He is Alan Moore, the author of Promethea, V for Vendetta, the Watchmen, and Lost Girls - a published femmeslash futurefic crossover/AU of the sexual adventures of Alice from Wonderland, Dorothy Gale, and Wendy Darling.

I hear that, statistically, it's pretty much just women who write slash, and that there's this perception that people who slash the characters from children's stories must be some sort of perverts. And yet many of the people who are supposed to subscribe to that theory would also have to be fans of perennially popular Moore. He seems to occupy a singularly multi-layered existence, much like that virus, because nobody even sees him for what he is. That passage in V for Vendetta where V is extemporaneously filking his life's story to the tune of Cabaret? Songfic, bb. Seriously.

Great. Big. Fangirl.

If you're wondering how is it that he can be in two places at once like that, be one thing and do another - well, he is a chaos magician. Messing with the normal order of the world is a spiritual tenet for more people than just the cracktastic slash fangirls on LiveJournal. ;) Love ya!

In other news, I have cyst pain+cramps again and my personal life is not doing me many favors. I need someone to write me a book, How to Comfort Distressed Humans: A GUIDEBOOK FOR THE CONFUSED VULCAN. Anybody up for the challenge? Or want to have coffee with me next Thursday at the Starbucks near my house?
flamingsword: Aziraphale, the flaming sword, and Crowley (Default)
While I have issues (and tend to talk about them, often at length), I know that you have issues, too. Just because I don't point them out and say, "ooh, where did you get that shiny warped perspective?! you are so beautifully broken!!" does not mean that I don't see you. I see you; I see us.

If you wonder why I consider you family when we have never met and have no visible thing in common, this is why. )

Thank you.
flamingsword: Aziraphale, the flaming sword, and Crowley (Movement)
Other people are even more of a chore today than I am, and that's rare. So instead of talking to other people (who aren't icky and foul-tempered), I'm going to talk to myself about all the things I've been saving up. ) You know you don't have to read this stuff, right? That you're real to me either way, and that nothing is expected of you? I've not got parts cut out for you to play, and I don't know what you want until you say so. You exist independently of the world and of me. You're you, and that gives me permission to be me. It's nice.
flamingsword: Aziraphale, the flaming sword, and Crowley (Movement)
I've been in three wrecks wherein the car was totalled (or should have been) and I've never been hurt. Everyone I know has some similar story of something that inexplicable doesn't go wrong for them- 'luck' you might call it. Because we are different, the world doesn't work the same way for any of us. Because of the differences in experience and essence, no two people understand the world in the same way. We all speak from our own vantage on the world, and so we all speak a subtly different language.

When you and I are talking you're speaking in your language and I'm hearing it in mine. And there are . . . translation gaps. Some of what you're saying I get, and some of it I think I get and it's not quite accurate, and some of it I'm not going to understand at all. But it's easy to forget that the two languages aren't the same. It's easy to think I know what you're talking about, until there's some obvious misunderstanding. And then we can feel the distance between us, and even though the distance has been there all along it still leads to frustration.

Now some have a take on this that says that if we try to all have the same experiences and live as alike as possible that maybe we'll understand each other better. Maybe if we aren't unique we won't feel so alone. And this is a beautiful wish. But like a lot of pretty wishes it's neither possible to live within a mold nor would it make us any more able to reach one another. Part of what makes us want to reach out to other people is that difference. Getting to know someone is always an adventure. If we're alike then we know each other aready, even having never met. And then what you have is interpersonal apathy. Where's the fun?

So you are stuck between two fallacies, whenever you communicate with someone: thinking that you understand, and thinking that you want to understand. And despite the impossibility of the situation, we all keep trying because even though it sucks when things get screwed up it's fun trying, and it's beautiful when you do manage those rare glimpses of the world through the eyes of another. So you have to challenge a lot of assumptions, and put a lot of effort into understanding the differences. And sometimes you have to have faith, make the leap, and trust your intuition that says that the gap isn't as big and scary as it looks. You have to recognize that change is taking place all the time, and that there's no way to account for it, because all true growth is a leap in the dark.

And still we talk, make friends, influence the world, change our minds, rearrange all the pieces of the puzzle. And it's confusing, but it's our nature. And when we come to terms with it, there's a sort of peace there, knowing that you haven't been duped, that everyone isn't doing it on purposes, that you're only as confused as everyone else. There's no conspiracy, no plan to keep you in the dark, it's just how things are. Things have always been this difficult, wars have always been fought for reasons of this same miscommunication, human interaction has always been precariously balanced, always been a blind man in a dark room looking for a black cat that wasn't there.

And then you look around with eyes of wonder, that you're here at all. And sometimes you find the cat anyway.
flamingsword: Aziraphale, the flaming sword, and Crowley (Default)
As proof that I'm getting all systems back up and running, the world gave me one of it's usual signs: raindrops falling on me when there are no clouds above me. Admittedly this is Texas, land of mucho crazy weather, but I've asked around, and this doesn't happen to other people as much as it does to me. This makes it about five times that this has happened. No rainbow, it's sunny out, there are no clouds above me although sometimes there will be occasional fluffy clouds in the sky, and then suddenly I feel several drops of rain on my skin. I always lick them off, because they're sweet, and maybe I have odd superstitions, and SHUT UP OKAY. And there are never rain marks on the pavement near me, just on me.

This only happens when I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing, clear board - all lights green. Now I just have to let the weirdness out. There's a state of mind where your particular craziness matches steps with the world, and amazing things just happen around you, like you get to dance with entropy itself. The confluence of energies causes something that looks like synchronicity, but I think it's the world being happy. And the laughter of the world causes things like raindrops from the infinite blue. Proof of the benevolence of the world is never something I've been missing.

I've never felt like I've belonged to this world quite like everyone else seems to. I've always felt out of place, like I was living in someone else's house. But I'm used to it, and it's not like anyone minds. So maybe it's not the same sort of existence I see other people having, but it's mine, and that'll have to be good enough. Not belonging where you are isn't a good enough reason to be unhappy all the time.

wei wu wei

Aug. 11th, 2004 01:00 am
flamingsword: Aziraphale, the flaming sword, and Crowley (Default)
Is it abnormal for humans to do more amazing things when they aren't paying attention than when they are?

Everyone has a superpower, some people more than one. Al Johnston could catch more yellow lights in five blocks than I would on a drive to Deep Ellum. Green lights and red lights just didn't like him, but yellow lights gave it up for him like they were his personal bitches.

I can drain batteries and kill induction fields. Makes it hard to wear a watch.

What can you do, puny human?

I've noticed that people all seem to unrecognizedly do impossible things, and the truly, deeply strange part about all this should-be-humanly-impossible shit is that nobody seems to notice.

Okay, now I'm as pagan as the next gal, but I'm not talking about craftwork. This is some magic more basic and understated than the rule of intent. Some fundamental thing about who we are causes us each to warp the world around us in some way that causes different things to be possible to different people. It's not even anything we do, it's a function of what we are. The laws of probability are highly personal, despite what sounds like logic. We just don't have the variables to cover the way the inverse square law of the presence of Al-ness causes traffic lights to go to yellow, or any way of feild-testing any theories on exactly how that works. But I'd love to know.

I speculate that humans emit a lot more electromagnetic energy than scientists really want to fess up to. Nobody wants to think that at some frequency, their bodies glow. But they do. Borrow someones infrared goggles and check it out - that's light. You glow. You can't see it, but you are emitting energy and if you can do it at one wavelength, why not another? And if certain frequencies affect physical matter in odd ways, that's no so unpredictable. But finding who emits on what wavelength, under what conditions, and in what phase is going to be a whole lot of work, as well as cataloging what kinds of systems are affected by that radiation and what the effects are, as well as how people emitting out of phase compete and negate each other, and all variations on the kinds of EM field theory and waveform mathematics that college professors give you strange looks for wanting to talk about. Looks that say, "Are you TRIPPING?"

And the above paragraph? That's for if it has anything to do with EM radiation AT ALL. Which ain't necessarily so.

Gotta love the world.


flamingsword: Aziraphale, the flaming sword, and Crowley (Default)

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