drwex: (Troll)
I realized that "what's up with me" has largely been "the kids." They and their needs occupy almost all of my brain space. They've been away at camp and will be intermittently gone this summer - all the away time doesn't quite line up the way we hoped but it's still a fair set of days of nobody but us and the dog in the house. Very mixed feelings about all that.

I've also realized that I'm not updating the way I'd like to. It's the usual cycle of not-writing that leads to there being so much stuff to write that it's overwhelming and so more not-writing happens. So let's talk first about the 4th because I felt good about it.

Project Social has been one of my ongoing goals since November. Feeling crushed and attacked on a daily basis - if not me then people I know and care about - is a real and disheartening thing. Seeing friends and doing relaxing things with them is a good antidote.

The Fourth there's one friend's party we traditionally go to, and we try to catch some fireworks somewhere. This year we were trying to figure out how to fit in another party with no kids home to do dog care when we got a message from [personal profile] mizarchivist saying she was in the midst of a packing marathon and could use company.

So we adjusted plans to stop by, bring packing supplies over, pack a handful of boxes while we were there, and then take her away to the party, a few blocks from her place. Feed, give tasty drinks, and hopefully provide a useful and refreshing interlude. We all agreed that moving (especially one's own stuff) is a horrid and horrible experience and if things can be done to make lives easier then that's a blessing.

The party was nice, tasty foods and some conversation with people I don't see that often. The attendance has shifted over the years to where I see fewer of my acquaintances there, and so spend less time there. We got home in time to feed the dog and chill a bit before going to see fireworks with Pygment's GF and fiancee (I keep wanting to type "husband" but they haven't quite yet formalized it - soon!) I think they are both excellent people but due to a combination of natural introversion and tiring work travel we don't see them much.

The fireworks show was good and the GF drove, meaning I didn't have to stress out about the traffic - if you've never driven with me in a traffic jam just accept that such things activate my aggression and anxiety a lot more than they ought. But if I'm not driving I can mostly ignore it.

So that was a holiday. Unlike many of my cow orkers I was in the office the 3rd and the 5th and did actual work. It was kind of empty in the building but not horribly so. One-day weekends aren't nearly as good as four-day but that's coming.
drwex: (Default)
https://my.oxfamamerica.org/AWbday

Normally a birthday is about the person celebrating the occasion. This year I'd like my birthday to be about one of my chosen issues.

With the help of Oxfam I'm putting out a request for money. If you're the sort who cares about food shortages, meeting the needs of refugees around the world, and who would consider doing something for my birthday please visit this URL. It's the home page for my birthday fundraising campaign. If you would normally get me something please consider giving that money to Oxfam. If money isn't your thing please help me by spreading the word. Obviously this appeal is to my friends and family and people who care about my natal anniversary but anyone who feels moved as I do can join in.

Sharing the things I care deeply about is one of the best birthday presents I can imagine.
drwex: (pogo)
...I can be pretty sure she did [get death threats and had stalkers]"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=toap7iPpTbs&feature=em-uploademail

I cannot ever before remember crying at a Vi Hart video. The problem, gentlemen is us. Pogo is right.

I look at my boys and wonder if, once they are out of our supervision, will they make the same stupid mistakes I made, be the same problem I was? I was commiserating last night with another parent whose child was also misbehaving and she noted that if she had done or said any of the things her child was doing and saying she would've been beaten soundly for it. Me, too. But she and her husband - like me and Pygment - have vowed to raise our children differently. She has five boys, we have two. If we've done something right, there might be seven fewer problems, seven more allies. And if we've done something REALLY right then we might just produce seven examples who have the position and possibility to influence their peers.

And maybe if enough of us do that enough times there will be a future history class that teaches videos like this one the way we teach at photos of last century's cholera, typhus, or influenza epidemics and both sympathize and be grateful the world is no longer like that.
drwex: (pogo)
In a recent LJ entry (which she tells me was also posted to FB), [livejournal.com profile] minkrose wrote about "... how to be considerate of those who struggle with this season". It's an unlocked entry, and worth reading if you have not.

I felt uncomfortable reading it because I know I've done things she says not to do, for which I am sorry, and I am uncomfortable for having... well, just about the opposite feelings. I've documented some of my own struggles with SAD and my perpetual hatred of this time of year, so I feel like I fit into Mink's classification of "THE MAJORITY of people [who] struggle with this time of year". But my responses are different. Let me show you them, by pull-quoting from her post:

Please don't tell me you are sad I am not coming to (or staying at) your event

Please do tell me you are sad, if that is true. One of the biggest problems I have with this time of year is isolation. I feel like I am not popular, nobody likes me, everyone else gets invited to things to which I am not welcome, and those people who do invite me are going to hate me for not coming and stop inviting me. Little touches, even formalities, that convey the idea that people have not forgotten me, do not hate me, and would like to see me mean a great deal to me.

Nobody but me is responsible for inside my head, and I certainly don't expect anyone's expression of interest to be a sudden cure, but where Mink says "I don't understand what POSSIBLE response I can have to that that doesn't make both of us feel shitty." I have the response "Thank you, it's nice to be thought of." I realize I'm not always very good at saying it out loud, but that's what it sounds like in my head.

please don't tell me how excited you are to see me at [event that is happening soon]

This is a little trickier because there's always the chance I wasn't invited to said event. That's a social faux pas and I try to do my best Miss Manners and pretend nothing was said. But the idea that someone is looking forward to seeing me falls into a category similar to the previous one. On the further plus side there are actual documented instances of me going to events where I was not likely to go before, just because someone took the time to tell me they'd be there and hoped I would, too. There remains a part of my brain that realizes hermiting in a locked cave and snarling at anyone who dares come close is bad for me. I do it, but I also eat junk food and fail to exercise. Getting me out of my cave is, again, nobody's responsibility but my own. But weights on one side do tip scales and sometimes a little weight is all it takes to tip the scales into me doing more healthy and good things.

anything you say that assumes I am going to do something, or assumes that I should do something, or assumes that what YOU want me to do is more important than what *I* want to do -- just don't fucking say it.

Well, yes. I think we agree it's disrespectful if you're not signing my paycheck or running my household for you to behave as if your wants are more important. And I further realize that depression is a lying illegitimate spawn of a jackal and will often make me think that someone is doing this when it's not their intention.

But you know what? Do it to me anyway. Over the years I've experimented with various degrees of hermiting and I've come to think that for who I am these days it's better to have even bumpy and possibly awkward social interactions. I am responsible for my own boundaries and saying "no thank you" or some more forceful version of that is on me. People who assume I'm going to say no without checking infuriate me as much as people who assume I'll say yes.

I think we'd all also agree that once an answer has been given it's good to respect that. Wheedling, guilting, cajoling, and similar forms of emotional manipulation go over really poorly when I'm in this state. But I can be bribed, and I can be reminded that last time I did a thing it was enjoyable. Nuanced and thoughtful interactions - even those that might push me - are good for me.

Finally a note about the "me" thing. There are people commenting on Mink's entry agreeing with her. That's great - people who can coherently express a point of view make my world a better place, whether or not I agree with that point of view. I have tried to write this entry in I/me language to say "Here is my point of view. It is different from those peoples' point of view. Neither is right or wrong in any global sense." Perhaps that's me reacting to what I saw as Mink's broad titling of "...those who struggle."

Here I document where I am that I think sets me in a different place than the place from which she speaks.

(Normally I f-lock stuff like this but I'm leaving it public in respect of Mink doing so and to enable anonymous responses. Comments will be policed.)
drwex: (Troll)
Lots going on. I haven't written stuff up in a long time, despite meaning to. I may try to go back in another post and cover some of what else has been going on. But for now, in reverse chronological order...

Recently )

The next time I schedule myself three social activities in a row I think I'm going to make sure (a) one of them isn't an all-day thing and (b) I don't pretend I'm actually going to have ANY social left on Days 4 or 5.
drwex: (Troll)
Courtesy of [livejournal.com profile] silentq three excellent questions. If you want your own, say so in the comments.

1. Describe your latest lightbulb/a hah! moment.

I work for a living as a UX designer so I get a lot of minor ones of these. Like, "aha, I can make peoples' lives simpler by giving them one summary table of data rather than requiring them to click back and forth among twelve different forms to get their data."

Recently I've been working on a project that is both chemistry-heavy and math-heavy, neither of which are my strengths and I think I got it. Of course, we won't know until it's prototyped and we put it in front of users to test but it was pretty cool to have the insight to understand how this mathematical chemistry thing ought to work, and how I could present it to people in a way that was human-understandable.

2. What's been your greatest triumph?

Surviving my kids' childhood. People think I'm joking when I say that we almost didn't get through my elder child's third year unscathed. Then there are the parents who grimace and nod. I don't think I'm out of the woods yet, but I'm far enough out that I can see the light between the trees at the edge.

I am not a natural parent. I'm blessed with a partner who's beyond awesome and neither of us can fathom how a single parent manages. It's so much harder than anyone tells you, and so much more risky. It also doesn't play well with my own mental and upbringing baggage. But I think I've survived and in some sense succeeded.

Rolling back to a previous stage of life, I'd say it was getting my PhD. I might try to dredge up the details from the depths of time but suffice it to say that it was not obvious to me that I'd make it until I had made it. That's not glamorous, nor particularly enlightening to say. Triumphs should be triumphant, right? But sometimes triumphs are "I got to walk across that stage and get handed this piece of paper that impresses everyone else a lot more than it impresses me."

Rolling back even further I think there's a pair I could nominate. The first would be making a relationship with [livejournal.com profile] sweetmmeblue work. When we met we were living 2/3 of a continent apart, and both in other relationships that were in the process of disintegrating. We were each others' rebound, and we both brought our unresolved issues into this relationship. There's no way this should have worked. I think that it worked is mostly her triumph, though. Her relationship skills have always exceeded mine, and I'm a very slow learner. People who've known me a long time can tell you how I've improved over the last couple decades, but it's been a slow process.

Sometime after Pygment and I decided we were going to try and make this work, we ended up having a morning-after-late-night-party breakfast at some chain - I want to say it was a Denny's. We started to talk about each of our respective life goals: her career, individual practice. My graduate work. Our mutual interest in kids. We sketched out something like a plan, literally making a timeline on the placemat in that restaurant. I wish I'd kept that mat because we more or less kept to that set of goals and order of achieving them. To the point where at my 40th birthday I was able to look around and say "OK, I've achieved all the goals I set myself - now what?"

3. What's the one thing that you wish that everyone would learn?

That the future is neither so different from, nor so much the same as, the past. We (humans) have a bad habit of forgetting how slowly things really change, and a commensurate lack of understanding of how profoundly things do change, over time. Yesterday is a pretty good model for what tomorrow is going to be like, but "a pretty good model" isn't a guarantee, and rounding errors - or small deliberate changes - pile up. Next year may be a lot like last year, but it's not so much like two years ago, and it's probably a whole lot different from ten years ago.

William Gibson hinted at this idea with his famous aphorism about the future already being here. The world doesn't change uniformly and that thing that has taken over some particularly corner of the world is still unknown in a lot of other corners. Overgeneralizing about things like "the future" tends to lead people into all kinds of errors. That includes small-scale errors like in their relationships, and big-scale ones like failing to plan properly for the future. My older son is a couple years from (I hope) college and probably four years of that into full-time work. I think I have a reasonable idea of what kind of job he'll have and maybe what the world will be like when he goes to full-time work. My younger son might not enter the full-time workforce for a decade, and I have to believe I don't necessarily have a good model for what kind of job he'll be getting.

(This has sat un-posted for quite a while as I pondered it. I'm going to post it now despite its flaws. Ask away, ye who want to answer.)
drwex: (pogo)
One of my favorite DJs - Steve Boyett, who spins music as DJ Steveboy - recently lost his mother. He put together a playlist that I've been trying to listen through. It's hard, and crying at work is frowned upon, but here you go:

http://www.djsteveboy.com/ghostofherreply.html

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