Letter from Mama

The takeaway from today’s therapy session is :

I need to nurture myself. Like, a lot.

It seems obvious in retrospect. The elements are all there in my personality. I have a very warm,. tender, caring, motherly side that has rarely seen the light of day even though I treasure it quite deeply. It’s full of warmth, sunshine, sympathy, affection, and everything else traditionally maternal.  And so far, this side of me has only been expressed in the form of caring for others.

But I know a very sad, scared, lonely little boy sitting all alone as he watches the other kids’ get picked up from school by their parents, and he sure could use all that tender loving care and affection.

So really, there is nothing stopping me (except base fear of change) from lavishing that inner child of mine with all the things he never got when he was the outer me. Attention, support, guidance, protection, understanding, wisdom… the whole care package.

See what I did there? Care package! I’m hilarious.

It’s a scary thought because giving myself all that I lacked in my childhood is a very big change. I have no idea where that kind of change would lead me. I might become a completely different person.

No big loss.

At this point in my life, I am willing to become damned near anything if it means I will be happy. I might even be willing to bend a little on being a super nice guy all the time.

A lot of that comes out of fear anyhow. Fear that if I am anything less than super nice all the time people will remember what a piece of shit I am and flee in droves.

And Ubers. Mostly Ubers.

It’s not all bullshit, of course, or fear. I really am a super sweet guy. But I wonder sometimes if even that can be taken too far. To the point where it is unhealthy. Bad for me and bad for others.

It’s bad when it keeps me from setting boundaries.

It’s bad when it makes me afraid of people because their problems are so real to me.

It’s bad when it comes across as pathetic and needy.

It’s bad when it hurts me.

Moving on. Here’s my first try at writing a letter to my inner child from a maternal point of view. Warning, this could get pretty weird.

My dear sweet boy, 

Don’t you worry. Don’t you fret. Everything is going to be all right now. 

Because Mama’s here, and Mama is going to fix everything. 

I know it’s been bad, sweet boy. I know it’s been very bad for a very long time. I know that it’s been bad for so long that you gave up on it ever being good again and that made you so sad that you got sick. 

But Mama is here now, sweet child, and she’s going to stick by you and take care of you till you get better, no matter how long it takes. 

I will never give up on you like those other people did. I will never leave you all alone again. Those people didn’t know how you handle someone like you. 

But I do. And I intend to do it. 

And I will not let you slip away, or fail out, or do anything else that would mean letting you go. I will always be there for you no matter what. 

In fact, I will always : 

  1. have time for you
  2. pay attention to you
  3. listen to what you have to say and take it seriously
  4. give you big warm soft hugs when the world gets too scary
  5. look out for you and try to keep you from getting hurt
  6. give you good advice when you get confused
  7. take care of you
  8. be interested in you and your life
  9. give you all the warmth and caring you could ever want, and
  10. be ready to growl my big mama cat growl and scare the bad things away. 

And I will never : 

  1. make you feel like you are not even there
  2. treat you like an unwelcome guest who has overstayed his welcome
  3. tell you that you are useless
  4. take tasks away from you and do them myself because I am too impatient to actually teach you to do them yourself
  5. make you feel like you’re not even supposed to be alive
  6. treat you like an unwelcome obligation
  7. punish you for voicing your needs or your right to exist
  8. exclude you from things due to your awkwardness
  9. expect you to know things without being told, or
  10. let you get away with thinking you do not deserve love. 

In short, my wonderful boy, I am going to take care of you the way that you have always deserved but never gotten, and from this point onward, things are going to be better. 

Your long wait is over. Mama is here to pick you up. 

You’re finally going home. 

Phew! That was some emotional heavy lifting. But it feels good. It feels right. I am going to right the ancient wrongs and give myself what I have needed for so very long.

Finally, the warmth will melt all the ice around my heart and I will finally feel the sunlight on my skin and know that I am valued and cherished and loved, and that everything is going to be okay after all.

Because here’s the thing.  You can survive anything life throws at you if you are wirh the right person. And I am going to be that person from myself.

And who knows, when the ice melts,. I might finally have room in my heart for a special someone else. Someone I don’t keep at arm’s length with my shiny bag of tricks.

Someone who gets to meet the real me.

I get the feeling that we’ll be meeting him together.

I don’t expect this to be the solution to all my problems.

I expect it to be the beginning of the solution.

I’m going to love myself as hard as I can.

And spring will finally come.

I will talk to you nice people again tomorrow.

 

Riders on the storm

Mental note : come back to that later.

But right now, I gotta do my homework!

Namely, writing the next episode of the show my client Nicole is making. She loved the first ep and wants to make it a weekly than.

Why, that’s almost like real work!

Here is a link to the first episode. Facebook Live doesn’t do embed, apparently. Grr.

I wrote the script upon which she based the video. Like me, she doesn’t like memorization and prefers to get the basic idea down in her head then wing it.

That might sound crazy, but it’s the only way to get a performance that sounds genuine, and I don’t know about her, but I put a very high value on being genuine and honest, so I get why she works off the script but not from the script.

If you know what I mean.

Anyhow, here’s the blurb she gave me for this week’s episode, due tomorrow morning :

“The client requests a basic package and then wants bells and whistles beyond what is reasonable. Basically, they are paying for a Chevy Cobalt but want a Corvette. We carefully work with these clients to let them know what is realistic on their budget, set things up as much as possible for future improvements and outline next steps for when they have more to invest in upgrading.”

Wow. I bet everyone who works in a client-based environment has a story like that. Hmm, that’s actually a pretty good opening.

“Now where was I? Right. Hi, and welcome to It’s a Solopreneur Life”, the show where I share  funny, inspiring stories from my life as a solopreneur in today’s digital world. This week, I have one I think a lot of solopreneurs can relate to.

Tell me if this starts to sound familiar.

You have a client who opted for the low-cost package of your services. No problem. Those packages are there for a reason.

But then they start asking you to do everything from your most expensive package!

Basically, they paid for a Chevy Cobalt and expected to get a Corvette.

I’d hate to be behind these people at McDonald’s.

“Hey, where’s my Big Mac, fries, and shake?”
“Sir, you ordered a small pop. ”
“Your point being….?”

And what you want to say is, ‘Hey pal, if you want more, pay more. That’s how this works. We’ve been through this. ‘

But of course, we’re professionals here at Virtual A-Team, so what we do is work with the client to make sure that they understand what they do and do not get with their package and give them some options for when they have more money to invest.

Crazy as it is, that’s just another day at work here at Virtual A-Team. ”

That will do for a rought draft for this week’s ep. If I have the time, I will work on it some more before I submit it tomorrow in the AM.

I am happy to get a regular gig. She pays me $35 per script. At the moment that is around $45 Canadian. But UpWork takes its 25 percent (hey, better 75 percent of something than 100 percent of nothing), and so I will be getting around USD $26.25 per script, which translates to around $35 Canadian.

Notice how that came full circle? The gains from the currency conversion are neatly canceled out by UpWork taking a cut.

It’s so efficient!

What else. Oh, Riders On The Storm.

I was listening to that song earler and for some reason, the couplet in the chorus got stuck in my head.

It’s the part that goes,

like a dog without a bone
or an actor all alone
riders on the storm

Why all lower case? Because it’s pretentious.

Anyhoo, when something gets stuck in my head I inevitably start playing with it, and I have been having so much fun that I thought I would call it a game and share it.

So we will call it the Riders On The Storm Game. The rules are simple : make up your own couplet then end it with “riders on the storm”.

Here are some examples fresh from my fervent imagination :

like an ancient mystic tome
made of purple styrofoam
riders on the storm

like when I blow a tone
on my chocolate saxophone
riders on the storm

like I just took out a loan
to buy the latest new iPone
riders on the storm

like a hot and dripping cone
of molten silicone
riders on the storm

like I’m always on the phone
with some stupid corporate drone
riders on the storm

like my car hit a stone
in a harbor loading zone
riders on the storm

I could go on and on. It’s just so much fun!

At least for me.

Look, I was a bored and lonely child and I learned to make my own fun, OK?

What else. I keep struggling with whether to sleep whenever I feel sleepy or force myself to stay awake at normal hours in hope of developing a healthier sleep schedule.

It’s a thorny nest of issues because on the one hand, the medical consensus is that I would sleep a lot better if I slept only when it is dark and stayed awake all the time the sun is up. Plus, a rigid and regular sleep schedule is healthy no matter when it happens becase our circadian rhythms will adjust accordingly.

And that sounds marvelously rational and sensible.

But it’s not that simple.

Because I already have a demon in my head that is constantly trying to force me to conform to its idea of how I “should” be doing thing and who I “should” be, and it’s one of my worst ones.

That means that this whole “sleep hygiene” trip is exactly the sort of ammo it needs to further persecute me on my failure to do things the “right” way.

From that point of view, I should simply accept that sometimes I will need to catch up on sleep so badly that all I do is sleep all day.

Sleep till I am not sleepy any more, basically.

But then again, I have a history of sleeping when I am not at all sleepy but I convince myself that I am because I want to hide from reality and not have to deal with anything.

Sleep is like death without the commitment, after all.

So honestly, I dunno.

Guess I’ll sleep on it.

I will talk to you nice people again tomorrow.

 

 

Connection failed. Please retry.

Gonna pick up where I left off yesterday re : my Asperger’s self-diagnosis.

First off, the list I came up with for yesterday’s blog entry :

  1. I have had issues with shiny objects. 
  2. I have had similar experiences with flashing lights.
  3. Final one about light. Flickering light can hurt me.
  4. Certain high frequences of sound make my whole nervous system go nuts.
  5. High traditional IQ accompanied by low social IQ.
  6. Mental tics and compulsions.
  7. Unusual and/or inappropriate affect.
  8. Early detached impericism and pursuit of truth via logical means.

I omitted the commentary on each list item. If you want them, please click here to go to the blog entry in question.

Not too long after posting that, I realized that I had miss the biggest piece of evidence of my Asperger’s of all : my difficulty in connecting with others.

And I am not talk abotu social awkwardness, although that is a huge factor. I am talking about the kind of deep emotional connection to others that makes one feel like they are a member of a tribe and part of what is going on in the world. Whether that feeling is a social, personal, or romantic one, whatever it is, I don’t have it.

In fact, I am not sure I ever had it. Maybe I had it before the rape, I don’t know. But since then, I have been isolated within myself on a damagingly deep level and it has done me immeasurable harm and cut my off from humanity.

It’s like the ending of that Star Trek : TOS episode Dagger of the Mind. Kirk is asked what it was like to be in the evil mind control machine and Kirk shudders and says it was like being alone. Completely, totally alone.

That’s what it is like to be me. More or less. Only without the soothing voice telling me what to do to make it all go away.

And it’s not just a matter of unintended isolation. I think back to times in my school life when people tried to befriend me. But I couldn’t ipen up. I couldn’t let them in. I could not give them what they wanted from me because my social transciver was broken.

Still is, in fact.

So I froze them out instead. Not on purpose. I was always trying to connect with people. I have desperately wanted to end my long stay in solitary confinement since Grade 1. I have tried to give people the signals they need many, many times but it has not worked. No connection was made.

Eventually I stop trying because trying and failing hurt too damned much.

I get that “black icicles stabbing my heart” feeling just thinking about it.

Now I hate to admit it, but my sky high IQ was probably a big part of that. It put me in a radically different mental space than my peers and so I found it hard to relate to them, and them to me.

I think I have also suffered due to having a bizarre emotional affect, which is something else that is a sign of Asperger’s.

Another clue to add to the file is my inborn ferocious need for autonomy and self-determination. I have never accepted authority except in intellectual matters.

And even then, I only accept that there are some who know things I do not. I do not accept that this means they are more likely to be right about matters of opinion in their field than I am.

After all, there is a lot of sloppy reasoning out there. I would have to be able to check theirs and confirm that it was sound.

As far as I can tell, I have always been like that. But why?

Because it’s not normal and it’s not healthy. I would have been better off being able to accept authority because through it I would have gotten the feeling of security and connection that I needed.

I think that the IQ thing played a big part there as well. Because the truth was that I was a lot smarter than most adults, teachers included.

That meant that I could not be intellectually dominated and therefore could not accept my teachers as authority figures. It also meant that I was quite difficult to deal with in that I did not operate like other children and I no doubt made some teachers feel threatened and/or humiliated.

So they did what people always do when they have a stimulus they can’t handle – they ignore it. Tune it out. Blot it out of their minds.

And by it, I of course mean me.

There were teachers who tried to help me. But never for very long because I was so unpredictable and uncontrollable. Just by being so bright and verbal, I am sure I innocently and unknowingly bit the hand that fed me many, many times with a sarcastic remark or a challenge of their authority or just asking a question they can’t answer.

And if you keep biting the hand that feeds you, people stop feeding you.

Hence my lifetime of emotional starvation.

For decades. I have thought that I could not possibly have Asperger’s because I had none of the major symptoms that I knew of. I had no problem understanding people and why they do what they do. I have, if anything, too much empathy. I haven’t developed the sort of safety mechanisms people with Asperger’s develop in order to cope with a world they do not understand, like retreating into abstract worlds that make sense to them like programming or train schedules. I didn’t mind being touched and I had no problem reflecting on my own motivations and understanding why I do what I do.

But that’s a conception of Asperger’s that begins two notches along the autism spectrum. As you have read, I have a whole lot of other, less major symptoms of the disorder, and I am forced to concluse that I have some form of it.

The question now is : what on Earth do I do with that information?

I will talk to you nice people again tomorrow.

 

 

 

Helter skelter in a summer swelter

For some reason, that part of American Pie is stuck in my head right now.

Today’s been OK. MAde a lovely discovery at the Sav-on food where I do my weekly shopping (the one at Ironwood, if you’re curious) and what made it better was that it was the result of my showing a good deal more initiative than usual.

And I find that quite enouraging.

Here’s the gripping story : I was in the cookie aisle and looking at my usual purchases when I spied a package of the Voortman sugar free wafers that I love so much,.

This is not the first time this has happened. Twice before I had found a single package of these lovely yummy things, but those times, I looked all around the cookie aisle and couldn’t find any more, and left it at that.

But this time, I noticed that there was a store employee in the aisle, and that allowed me to make the logical leap to “they must sell these here SOMEWHERE”, and so I asked the store employee where to find more of them.

And then he, my guide, led me to a wondrous place where all manner of Voortman cookies could be found, including the three flavours of sugar free wafer cookies.

And there was much rejoicing. (SFX : “yaay!”)

So I bought one of each flavour. Technically, I don’t particularly like the chocolate one. but I have certain compulsions and one is iteration/non-repetition and so if I was getting three and there were three kinds, I had to get all three.

I have a lot of mental twerks like that. More than I care to think about. I mean, that non-repetition thing can be ferocious. Here’s an example.

Say there is a sale – three bags of Doritoes for eight bucks. That’s a pretty good sale. But then I look and there are only two kinds of Doritoes there that I like.

This instantly throws me into a existential bind. I want to take advantage of the deal,. but I can’t buy two of the same flavour and I can’t buy just two when the deal is for three. I just can’t.

So what happens? I buy zero bags of Doritos. It’s the only way out of the trap. A sane person would not be in a bind at all. They would get two of the same kind, or just two, and not even see a conflict there at all.

But for me, it’s not just a conflict but I experience acute stress till it is resolved.

The evidence that I have a touch of Asperger’s Syndrome keeps piling up.

Anyhow, so I bought one of each. The flavours, in my order of preference,  are chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry.

I have started with the chocolate, because yet another of my lifelong compulsions is to do things in ascending order of preference. That way things get better as they go, and I am very sensitive to that kind of thing.

That’s why I find the “eat dessert first” people hard to comprehend. If you start with dessert, then the rest of the meal will suck by comparison.

It’s like starting a symphony with the crescendo.

But I get that not everybody is wired that way. For some people, eating dessert first means they can enjoy the rest of the meal without the tension of having to wait for the really really good part. I respect that.

But for me, it’s clear  The trend must be an upward curve. Nothing else will do.

And that really does get me thinking about the whole Asperger’s thing. Maybe I really do have one foot in the leftmost part of the autism spectrum.

Let’s summarize the evidence :

  1. I have had issues with shiny objects.  Sometimes some object, like someone’s earring or wind chime or such, will captivate my attention and I will find myself staring at it and finding it very hard to look away. And it feels like the strange mental sensation from it is slowly displacing everything else in my mind., a feeling I will call “whiting out”.
  2. I have had similar experiences with flashing lights.  Whether it’s how a flashing Xmas light relfects of an Xmas tree ornament or flashing words on a digital display, the same “whiting out” can occur and as with the shiny object, I have to forcibly tear myself away from looking at it or I will disappear down the rabbit hole of this sensation and probably end up doing something crazy onjce enough of my conscious mind is blanked out.
  3. Final one about light. Flickering light can hurt me. For example, one time in elementary school, one of the flourescent bulbs in our classroom began to flicker randomly. This caused a very painful sensation to build in my mind, something like fear mixed with a migraine headache. The pain got worse and worse but I didn’t even have the words to explain to the teacher what was bothering me. Good thing it had been replaced by the time we came back from recess.
  4. Certain high frequences of sound make my whole nervous system go nuts. It’s that “nails on the chalkboard” feeling. But I hear it in otherwise normal sounds, like someone’s brakes squeaking when they stop at a traffic light or in certain kinds of otherwise great music.
  5. High traditional IQ accompanied by low social IQ. As patient readers knows, I am crazy smart. Genius IQ, never had to study in school, etc. But I definitely feel like I never learned to pick up on social cues. I am fine with facial expressions, vocal tone, empathy, and all that. But there is a social frequency that informs the emotions and decisions of more typical human beings that I cannot hear. So for the most part, I can only guess based on what emotions I am picking up from people. And that’s not super effective.
  6. Mental tics and compulsions. Like the ones I have discussed tonight. Like all compulsions, they are invisible when obeyed. But cross them and a horrible nameless dread rises up to enforce the compulsion.
  7. Unusual and/or inappropriate affect.  Far too many times in my life I have found myself in the situation where it is clear some sort of reaction is expected of me but I haven’t the slightest idea what it is and so I end up disappointing, disgusting, or even angering people without any chance of preventing it. And that is very hard on someone who is as empathic as I am.
  8. Early detached impericism and pursuit of truth via logical means.  I can’t remember a time when I did not have a sort of clinically detached outlook on life. It was especially absurd and troubling (or should have been) when I was a child. I made extraordinary logical demands on my teachers and others in my life because if something didn’t make sense to me, I felt compelled to pursue it until it did. On the other hand, I had almost no interest in toys of any sort. They weren’t stimulating enough. I wanted books and video games and comics – all high in mental stimulation and all something you could do alone.

Those are the ones I can think of off to top of my head. I am sure there are many more items that fit the pattern. I will likely add to the list in the future.

I’ve always been downright weird.

Turns out, there may be a diagnosable reason for that.

I will talk to you nice people again tomorrow.

 

 

Oh right. This thing.

Forgot to put this in yesterday’s blog entry.

Finally got this done yesterday :

\

It’s a compilation of the best takes from a night of doing very short video bits for the Paragon project that I have been working on with Felicity and Garth.

It took me over a month to get done due to my running into technical issues, one of which was depression.

And my inclination is to feel terrible about that. To exoriate myself for failing my friends and letting everyone down by being such a colossal fuckup, even though this is totally something I should have been able to do in an hour overnight.

But that sort of thing is the main reason why it took me so long, technically issues aside. It’s the kind of thing that makes teckling the problem seem so hard and like something I would rather not even think about, and that kind of gets in the way of productivity.

It’s a highly self-destructive patttern and one I would be better off without.

But as much as it hurts me and makes me life suck, I also sort of… like it?

It feels good to take my stresses and tensions out on myself. It’s like an internalized abusive relationship. A version of my angry dad lurking within me.

But more than that. My father rarelty turned his anger on me. He was impatient with me but he was impatient with everybody. So perhaos I got the pattern of abuse – venting your anger against someone weaker – but not the actual behaviour.

He still did plenty of damage to me with his impatience. He’s probably a big part of why I am such a nervous person and why I always feel like I am doing things too slowly and that everything has to be done as fast as possible because I am late when I start.

Anyhow, back to the Paragon thing.

The technical issues really threw me off. It started with my usual video editing suite, Ulead VideoStudio, died and could not be revived.

Then came a long series of alternatives which all found their own way of not working.

Finally I came upon WeVideo, and while I am not fully conversant with how it does things yet, I was at least able to assemble the damned clips.

Now I will try my best to learn how to trim clips, insert clips, and so on.

I have the PDF manual to the app open but the instructions are not making a lot of sense to me. This is hardly unprecedented. I have a hard time learning from instructions. My mind just plain can’t turn instructions into actions withouit a hell of a lot of hard work. And even then, maybe not.

It’s like I have to learn everything my own way and if that way is not available, tough.

I’m so goddamned specialized. Super great in certain broad areas and terrible in all the others. There are times when I wish I had more generalized competence. Then I would not feel so helpless and dependent.

I need more sleep so I am gonna nap nao.


Aaaand I am back.

I’ve been so tired lately. And I am sleepy all the time. I am worried that this means that my (untreated) sleep apnea is getting worse and that I will be in serious trouble soon.

Adding fuel to the fire is that I had three seperate times yesterday, I had trouble brathing and had to empty out my lungs completely (like I do) many times in order to clear out the excess CO2 that pools at the bottoms of my lungs and takes up space that should go to absorbing oxygen from my breathing.

Or at least, that’s my theory.

And that CO2 accumulates while I sleep. My interrupted breathing keeps me from fully exhaling and thus getting rid of all of the CO2 from the inhalation.

So I am a tad worried.

And I find myself staring at the CPAP machine that has sat idle for at least three years at my bedside and I tty to will myself to use it. I

I know it works because I did use it when I first got it.

I was such a good boy back then. Took my pills and my insulin, used the CPAP machine, even tested my blood despite the pain.

Where did that guy go? I guiess he got older and lazier and became me. Right now, it’s all I can do to keep up with my medications.

I haven’t injected my insulin in at least six months, probably more. It’s one of those things that died when I fell down the Skyrim hole and I still haven’t revived it.

I just try to make it through the day with as little pain as I can manage.

I want more, I really do. But I get so tired.

God damn it, I just woke up and already I am nodding off at the keyboiard. What the actual fuck, man. I feel like a nacroleptic.

Any way I can take naps in lieu of others for a living?

‘Cause I’d make a million at that kind of job.

I try not to fight it. I know that if I am this tired, it most likely means I am way behind on sleep and so sleeping a lot could actually help me catchon my REM sleep and thus leave me far better off when I am finally done.

Sure doesn’t feel like it, though. Feels like the more I sleep, the sleepier I get, until eventually I just stop waking up entirely.

Not likely, I know, but it’s how it feels.

But of course, I don’t want to sleep the day away, Iwant to be alive and awake and enjoying my life and doiung stuff/ Even if most of that stuff is playing Witcher 3.

Sleeping all the time makes me feel like the hours of my life are being stolen.

Damn I wish I had more Diert Coke.

I will talk to you nice people again tomorrow.

 

 

Timely (ish) Review : Isle of Dogs

(Gene Shalit voice)

The film is called Isle Of Dogs, and Isle Of IT!

Seriously, though, I love this movie. I was charmed and delighted from beginning to end. it really spoke to the animal lover in me because, despite my being way more of a cat person, I recognize that dogs, in general, are awesome.

A warning for fellow cat lovers, however : there is a small amount of indirect villification of cats in this movie. The actual villains are humans, but those humans are cat lovers.

Also, while this is a pretty kid-friendly movie, there are some parts that are quite dark and so it might not be suited for very young kids.

The “too young to see Bambi” demographic.

One more warning : .parts of the movie are in untranslated Japenese. But only in scenes where you can get the gist of what is happening from vocal tone and such.

That said, this is a movie that will make you smile. The script is warm and witty in the Wes Anderson way, where you are more amused than laughing out loud. The animation is absolutely gorgeous – granted, the dogs come across as really high quality toy dogs than real dogs, but that’s entirely in keeping with the visual style of the movie.

I mean, the people seem like dolls too. It all fits.

Most impressively, the movie manages to be genuinely heartwarming in a way that isn’t trite or manipulative. And the plot is original enough that I had no idea what would happen next the majority of the time, other than knowing that it will end well.

Because of course it will. I would accept no less from any movie in a kid-friendly genre.

The voice acting is superb. The dogs are both lovable and relatable, especially if you have been around dogs for any length of time. There are hundreds of little touches that show that the animators knew a lot about how dogs move and react, whether it’s something subtle like a slight twitch of an ear or something more substantial, like grasping how four footed creatures actually move through their environment.

It reminded me of how impressed I was by how Miyazaki animated toddlers in his movies. It takes real observation and sensitivity to understand that toddlers don’t move like older children or adults. They body proportions are different and they live in a world where everything is made for people far larger than them,.

Isle of Dogs understands dogs the same way.

All in all, Isle of Dogs is that rare movie that you can take a kid to – even if it’s just your inner child – and both of you will have a very good time and come away from it feeling warmer and happier and maybe just a little bit better about the world.

And when art  – in any form – can do that, you know you’ve found something special.

So if you’re a dog lover looking for a movie that seems to be made just for you, an animation fan looking for something with a little of that old fashioned magic in it, or just want to show off how well you understand Japanese, I hearily recommend this movie.


Yay, I reviewed something that was still in the theaters!

Why, that’s practically relevent!

Now I have another thing to reivew, namely the Indian restaurant I ordered from tonight for my Saturday Night Treat.

It’s called Ginger Indian Cuisine and I am displeased,due to the price.

See, I paid $14 for chicken vindaloo. And by itself that is not outrageous – that’s about what I would pay downtown.

But if I had ordered it downtown, it would have come with the usual Indian food trimmings – some naan bread, some cold rice, a scoop of kachumber or some other Indian salad – and therefore I would feel like I got a meal.

Instead, all I got was the curry. And it was quite good – but I don’t know if it was $13 good. And that’s not even including the delivery charge and tip.

Side note – I figured out how to not include any tip on my SkipTheDishes order so that I could tip my driver directly without having to worry about whether or not their employer is even going to pass the money along.

Fact is, some restauranteurs are bastards and would keep the tips themselves if they thought they could get away with it.

Oh, and every time I order through SkipTheDishes, I get this song stuck in my head :

What a great war song.

Anyhow, back to the review. The curry was great, especially when I had re-adjusted to the spiciness level.

Every time I have spicy food after not doing so for a long time , I go through the same old thing : I think I am ready for how hot it will be, and I never am.

It’s always a terrible shock. I figure that this is because I subconsciously expect it to be roughly as hot as the last spicy thing I ate.

But that is based on how spicy the food seemed at the end of the meal, when my taste buds have adjusted and/or been rendered numb from the shock.

It amounts to the same thing.

And that’s why it always comes as a shock. If I ate spicy cuisine more often, presumably I would retain both my resistance to it and the memory of how hot it is at the START.

But because I seldom have anything spicier than a cinnamon bun, it blindsides me.

Anyhoiw, back to the issue of value. I am finding that quite often I feel a little ripped off by my SkipTheDishes meals, and it’s because I am paying $20 – the price of a restaurant meal – for what amounts to fast food.

I will no doubt continue to do it – it’s way too much fun to have so many restaurants to choose from without having to leave the house – but I feel a tad clipped.

Such are the times we live in, I suppose. Especially in a rapidly densifying area like Richmond. I sure do miss free delivery.

But Richmond is worth it.

I will talk to you nice people again tomorrow.

 

 

A bundle of nerves

That’s what I am right now.

But I am striving to be cheerful about it.

There’s no particular crisis going on or anything. I only wish I was sane enough to only feel panic when there is legitimately something worth panicking over.

In fact, the cause of my heightened state of agitation is actually something good : long time friend of the blog William “spuug” Graham is going to take me to dinner and a movie tonight. His treat!

The dinner will be at Old Spaghetti Factory and the movie will be Isle of Dogs.  And I am sure I will have a lovely time.

And yet, it’s a change, it’s different, it means I have to rearrange my usual Friday schedule (which is why I am blogging now, at 1 pm, instead of my usual 7 pm), it means I have less time for things like napping than usual, and hence I am experiencing mild panic accompanied by terror and dread.

While also really looking forward to a pleasant evening.

I lead a complicated life.

In fact, sometimes it feels like I am lost in a never-ending maze of my own devising. I expore the maze constantly while never getting any closer to escaping it because I also generate the maze faster than I can solve it.

That guarantees that I remain lost in my own obfuscations, illusions, and blind alleys, and never have to deal with the real world that I am supposedly eager to reach.

Well it’s easy to be eager to get something and work very hard to get it when you know you have absoluitely zero chance of success.

That way you can comfort yourself with the illusion of progress. After all, it’s not like you aren’t doing anything! You’re exploring the maze all the time!

That should be enough to convince the world (and yourself) that you are definitely trying and are therefore can’t be accused of refusing to help yourself.

Look at me, world! Watch me try! Aren’t I cute with all my trying?  Doesn’t it make you want to hug me and squeeze me and deal with the world for me so I don’t have to?

This is what happens when you don’t go through emotional puberty. A lot of my behaviour patterns can be seen as a subconscious attempt to attract the kind of attention and nurturing I never got as a child.

Part of me is still trying to convince people to love me and take care of me. And a big part of that is my learned helplessness.

After all, if you can do it yourself, nobody will do it for you. So you have a vested interest in not becoming competent.

And god damn it, it works,. I have had someone dealing with reality for me nearly my entire adult life.

Always in the form of roommates. It makes me wonder why they put up with me.

It pays to be cute and funny, I guess.

But all in all, I would rather be competent. I think. It would certainly do my self-esteem to be able to show the world that I can take care of myself and that I don’t have to be a burden on others.

Or at the very least that I can use my talents to earn enough money to pay people to look after me and deal with the nitty gritty realities of modern life.

Maybe some people are not meant to be independant. I dunno. Maybe some of us are hothouse flowers who are lovely to behold but entirely dependant on the careful care of gardeners and an entirely arificial environment to survive.

I can’t accept that, though. Not about myself. To think that I will spend the rest of my life in such a state is intolerable.

And not just because it makes me feel helpless, although that’s bad enough. When you can’t look after yourself properly and therefore are depedant on the kindness of others, yoiu have very little say in what happens in your life and your ability to captain your own ship is severely limited.

But it’s also humiliating. It puts me in a permanently subservient role. You cannot possibly develop much self-esteem when you are in such a position. Just thinking about it makes me feel weak and pathetic and worthless.

Now I understand why biting the hand that feeds you might occur.  It would come from misplaced anger being directed toward the source of your dependance. If it succeeds in discouraging the one doing the feeding from ever feeding you again, then it has succeeded in ending said dependence.

And there is such a thing as gratitude fatigue. There is only so long a person can remain grateful for what they are receiving before they need a break. Taking such a break would be indistinguishable from taking things for granted to an outside party.

And the person doing the feeding gets sick of it, too. There is an underlying assumption in all forms of aiding your fellow humans that said aid is temporary. That you are helping someone get back on their feet, not agreeing to carry them for the rest of your life.

A learned helplessness pattern like my own violates that assumption. Hence my guilt over being a burden on others. I know that they didn’t sign on to take care of things for me for life but I also feel helpless to fix it.

The only solution I can see is money. If I can build a career as a freelancer, or even get a permanent job somewhere, then I can hire someone to be my majordomo and they can take care of things for me.

I think I would still feel bad for needing someone like that, but it would be better than what I have now.

Either that or I need to move to a bachelor suite somewhere and thus force myself to learn to make it on my own.

I don’t know.

But I do know that something has to change.

I will talk to you nice people again tomorrow.

 

Enter the fox

But gently, please. It’s been a while.

Hello nice people. I feel like I have been talking at you, not to you, for a while and I thought I was fix that tonight.

Sorry if that freaks you out. I mean well, but I have boundaries issues,.

My default (and preferred) mode when I am communicating with others [1] is casual, informal, and direct. I detest what I see as artificual barriers between people and I bristle at the very thought of having a lot of rules to follow (what some call “etiquette” and I call “bullshit”) instead of simply connecting with one another directly.

Seems like an odd philosophy for someone with huge issues connecting with others like myself, I suppose, but I never said everything about me made sense.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

I’m just an informal kind of person, dear reader. It’s how I’m made. I understand why some people like to have manners be about following a set of rules to the best of your ability but those people are a lot more order-oriented than I.am.

It’s part of my creative mindset. The creatve mind instinctively wants to minimize the rules and maximize potential for connection. It’s those connections that are the basis for all creativity and creative people want there to be as many potential connections as possible at all times.

Hence the need to maintain an “open mind”. Open to what? Connections.

Therefore, the sort of stuctured, ordered, filed presses and folded life of the “a place for everything and everything in its place” type person seems stifling and artificial and quite frankly horrifying to a creative type like me.

But to them, my rule-minimizing life would seem like madness, chaos, and anarchy. They need all that order in order to feel safe and in control. Their whole lives are patterned about this need for structure and so, for them, a trip to my mind would be like being abandoned on some layer of Hell.

Pandemonium, perhaps. Or Bedlam.

The world needs both types, of course. And nobody is all one or the other. There are things about which I am intensely fussy (language and logic being the biggest ones) and I am sure that even the most buttoned down order oritented bookkeeper has a creative side lurking somewhere.

One of the differences is in faith in your own judgment. For orderly types, often the worst thing they can imagine is being asked to make a judgment call.

By that, I mean a decision for which there is no proven, tested, reliable method by which they can derive the right answer. They would have to rely entirely on their own understanding and perception and make a gut-level decision.

To them, that sounds impossible. How could they get the right answer – let alone KNOW it’s the right answer – if there is no set procedure to apply? What kind of madness is this? Are they expecting you to have magic powers?

These are the people with a lifelong hatred of English class. To them, being asked an open ended question like “What do you feel is the main theme of the story?” or “What is your favorite character and why?” is like being asked to do the impossible and then being punished for not doing it.

And it is impossible… if you can’t see outside your frame of reference.

What English teachers need to tell said people is that these questions are meant to test your ability to articulate and express your thoughts. That’s why it’s called English class – it’s where you learn to use the English language.

Therefore the actual answer to the question is secondary. The primary idea is to give you a chance to practice expressing yourself.

And that’s entirely possible and not unfair at all.

English teachers tend not to understand the orderly mindset well enough to tell kids that, though. They often don’t know it themselves.

Ironically, they lack the ability to articulate it.

Now gentle readers, I have heard that somewhere there are English teachers who tell the kids that there are no wrong answers then tell kids their answers are wrong.

That is such a deep and horrific betrayal that it makes me want to beat these teachers senseless with a whiteboard.

Seriously. At the very least, the teacher ought to get a pretty stern talking to for playing such a dirty rotten trick on the kids. If I was the principal of that school, I would come down on them like a ton of bricks.

But I think that at least in some cases, the people claiming to have had these teachers are describing how it felt, not how it was.

I don’t blame them for this. It can be very hard to tell the difference sometimes. I myself often confuse the two and start thinking that how I feel – that nobody cares about me, that everyone resents me for being a burden, and so on – represents how it really is in the world when I know that it’s not true.

I might not always be able to feel the love, but it’s always there. The sun still shines in winter, after all.

And I can see how someone with a different mindset than mine might be so overwhelmed by this feeling of the cruelest injustice that they hate English class, the arena for this traumatic experiences, for life.

That’s what gym class was like for me, after all. Constantly being asked to do something that all the other kids could do but for me, it was impossible. People saying “Just do this!” and me asking “But how do I do that?” and them saying “Just do it already!”.

And boy, do I still hate gym class. With a vengeance.

But I also wonder about the logic of declaring something to be impossible when those around you are doing it.

I mean, gym class might have seemed impossible FOR ME, but I never thought it was impossible period. That would have made no sense.

But then again, maybe I can only see that because I have the kind of creative, flexible mind that can see outside the walls of social reality.

In which case… dammit, I just dunno.

Maybe we just need to get bettter at recognizing that different kids have different needs and different learning styles and different strengths, and teach them accordingly.

Or maybe I, too, am limited by my own mindset, and so I can’t see the solution.

I just know that it seems like a crime that so many people I have known have gone through this kind of trauma.

Surely we can do better than that.

I will talk to you nice people again tomorrow.

 

 

 

 

Footnotes    (↵ returns to text)

  1. As opposed to when I am communicating with myself.

First assignment of the new age

Yup, I am making you nice people read my homework again.

I landed a gig writing a speech for a Facebook Live talk in the form of a  funny story from a nice woman’s business and the implied awesomeness of said business.

Trust me,. I will be subtle. I’m good at that. No, really!

Anyhow, tonight’s blog will begin with my first draft of said work.

First off, we have a rough and dirty outline of the anecdote :

1. Client calls and says they can’t get a hold of Director

2. Nicole calls Director

3. Director sounds drunk and/or on cough syrup – oh shit

4. Nicole calls client, says Director is sick, but she has all the relevant information and can do the job

5. Client is happy and another crisis is averted by…. the Virtual A-Team!

Those are the main beats. Simple enough story. Here’s my first stab at telling it :

So one morning the phone rings and it’s a client of ours who is freaking out because they can’t get a hold of the Director assigned to their task. 

That can’t be good, I thought, and called that Director myself. 

They answer the phone and I could tell right away that I was in trouble, because they sounded drunker than the proverbial skunk. 

I could almost smell it on their breath through the phone! I have my client on the other line and now I have to explain to them that the Director I assigned to them is far too drunk to do their job. 

Talk about an “oh shit!” moment. Right? 

Thinking fast, I told the client that their Director was “sick” – which was technically true, alcoholism IS a disease – but that I had all of the relevant information I needed to step in and do the job myself. 

The client was relieved and so was I. I mean, could you imagine what would have happened if I hadn’t been there? The client would have been SSOL – um, for you kids, that stands for Sweet Something Out Of Luck – and mission critical operations might have had to wait till a certain someone sobered up. 

Thank goodness that didn’t happen! 

But that’s just another day in the office for us here at Virtual A-Team. 

Hmmm. Not bad. Needs polish but I am going to get the client’s go-ahead first in case she looks at it and says “OH GOD NO!” and I need to start over.

This seems like it could be a fun gig. If the first one works out, the client plans on doing a series of these vids and that would mean a series of paydays for yours truly.

And I talked to the client via voice chat this afternoon, and she seems like a fun kind of person with a good sense of humor. She used to be a stage actress, so I already know she is probably at least somewhat “cool” by my standards.

We creative types have a certain wavelength in common. Even when our disciplines are as different as writing and acting.

It’s exactly like the wavelength I share with my fellow nerds. There’s a level of connection and commonality that goes deeper than merely having interests in common or liking the same sorts of things.

It’s like we’re the same kind of person. Like we all started from the same blueprint, or like a certain level of IQ naturally creates the same basic personality over and over.

Or maybe the personality creates the IQ. Hard to say.

I also have another gig. Someone wants me to help them develop their idea for a novelty/gag gift type product. I have no idea what the job will actually entail, seeing as I put a bunch of my ideas in the application, but we shall see.

It feels very good to have something productive to do. It’s so much better than killing time playing video games. I was really feeling the weight of all my free time lately. Getting back out there to freelance is a great idea.

Update : I had the same sort of panic attack near the end of my hour on Upwork today. Not entirely sure what is going on. I suppose it must be that everything I do on UpWork, even if I am just checking out the job listings, adds to my background anxiety level, and eventually that kettle boils over and I feel terrible, like I am going to die.

But I was ready this time. When the panic came, I just kept myself busy doing this n’ that and waited it out. And sure enough, the flood came and went and there I was, sodden and saddened but still there.

Take that, my depression/anxiety! I got proof positive that your predictions are bullshit today. I defied your panic and nothing terrible happened. I went through a bad patch, sure, but it was not the end of the world. I survived just fine.

And with my self esteemed boosted to boot!

That’s the pattern I want for my future. Let the black clouds of depression darken my sky and soak me with its cold, deadening rain. Go ahead and try to scare me with your thunder and lightning. Throw the whole special effects budget at me. I don’t care. I still won’t do what you want me to do.

I will just put up my umbrella, wait out the storm, and continue doing what I want to do when the clouds part and the sunshine returns.

I see through depression’s bullshit now. I see how it lies, exaggerates, distorts, misdirects, cheats, distracts, destroys, and deceives.

I know its game.

And I know that the world will not end if I defy it. I have felt the sunshine on my skin and it feels so good to finally thaw out from my long emotional winter and return to life.

And nothing will make me stop fighting for air, least of all failure. That’s one of depression’s dirtiest tricks : convincing you that if you falter even one tiny bit in your new commitment, that means you have failed and you should just give up.

Bullshit. One battle does not a war make. And some fights are worth fighting even if there is no chance of winning.

Better to go down swinging than to give up your pride in order to get it over with.

I see you now, depression.

And you have no power over me.

I will talk to you nice people again tomorrow.

 

One eye slightly open

So I spent some time on UpWork today. Almost an hour. And I applied for a bunch of stuff. There’s plenty more where that came from, too.

So, yay me.

It’s quite strange how my self-loathing disappears and I am suddenly all sunshine and confidence when I am applying for a gig. Perhaps it’s because I have an audience, one I am allowed to go all out to impress.

But I have always had a sort of on again/off again relationship with self-confidence. Within my little wheelhouse, I have bulletproof confidence.

It’s the confidence that comes from knowing exactly what you can and cannot do and thus being able to put yourself forth with the confidence of certainty.

It’s very INTJ

This confidence must be the source of why I have been told that the way I say things makes it sound like there is no possibility of disagreement. It’s a strange charge to level again someone because I could argue that if I believe something and state it as though I believe it, like everyone else, what’s the problem?

That was my attitude (and what an attitude) in my last year of high school and first year of college. It was both ego and cluelessness. The ego part is obvious – i was this super bright student who kicked ass at school and I was more than ready to flex my muscles and show the world what I could do.

I mean, college is supposed to be the holy grail for us brainy types. After a lifetime of low challenge and even lower respect, we were finally going someplace where academic skill is valued and encouraged and where they’d challenge me and intellectually engage me and everything would be SO AWESOME.

In retrospect, if I had wanted that, I should have gone to a better school.

Anyhow, the cluelessness on my part was my inability to imagine myself as someone who did not have my overcharged intellect and arrogant self-confidence and so I was blind to the fact that I was trampling all over people who were weaker than me when I charged to the fore in every class discussion.

In my defence, that wasn’t something I had to worry about at home. I come from a highly verbal, intellectual, intelligent family and so none of us felt like we had to slow down or simplify things.

In fact, I got trampled myself. Being the youngest and not as smart or confident as my siblings in my formative years. I was the one constantly running to keep up with their conversation and waiting for a chance to get a word in edgewise because I could not yet shoulder my way into the conversation like everyone else.

Picture me as the runt of the letter trying to get to a teat despite all the shoving and jostling from the full size piglets and you get the basic idea.

Perhaps that is one of the sources of my endless need for attention. I got so little of it and had to fight so hard for it that I am in constant starvation mode.

I see I have wandered off on a fascinating intellectual tangent again. Dammit. So what was I talking about again?

Oh right, job hunting on UpWork. I did it for almost an hour but had to stop because I had a pretty nasty panic attack near the end.

Suddenly I felt exposed and frightened and wrong, and so I had to lay down and read in order to let the stress chemicals drain away.

In retrospect, drinking Diet Coke with lunch was probably a bad idea. Caffeine might be great for giving me energy but it also overcharges my anxiety batteries and so it is no surprise I had a panic overload.

Tomorrow I will eschew the caffiene and go into the enterrprise alert to the possibility of panic and prepared to use various techniques to calm myself down.

It’s the sort of thing that makes me understand why so many writers drink heavily. The talent and the madness go hand in hand.

They are, in fact, two halves of the same whole. I have been thinking about this a lot lately. I think there has to be something broken in a person in order for certain life energies to only be able to be expressed through art.

I come to this conclusion partially via observation of others, both in person and via media, but mostly from self-examination. I have found that my verbal talents stem from an overwhelming need to communicate plus an inability to do so via “normal” means.

This desperate need to communicate, in turn, stems from being unable to connect with others on a human level. For me, the verbal-intellectual road to connection is the only road I know, and so all my energies get routed into doing that.

It’s a terrible substitute but it’s the only one I have, at least for now.

There’s a control/escape aspect too. Whether it’s me typing away or a painter daubing oils on a canvas or a composer stringing notes together, creating art lets a person disappear into a world of their own devising where they have total control.

So perhaps a need to flee the chaos of the world into my own private garden of the mind plays a part in it too.

So yeah. I get why writers drink. It’s a way to quiet the insanity for long enough to let the talent do its thing.

That way it is almost justifiable, like a business expense.

But I will stick with my video game addiction. Way fewer side effects and a lot less likely to destroy one or more important organs via repeated use.

And I am crawling out from under that one too. The games are losing their ability to keep me from feeling restless and unsatisfied and by doing so, opening the door to things like today’s short excursion into the world of UpWork.

Hey, I got back to the original subject!

What a lucky break!

I will talk to you nice people again tomorrow.