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2 Dreams: 7.1.15

July 3, 2015

#1.

Spouse and I, talking about taking an art class we’re taking together. He found a small painting that Justin Bieber had done in the style of a famous Brueghel painting. Spouse was going to pass that off as his version of a homework assignment. When I protested because of “honor, integrity”, he threatened me, subtly (with implausible acts of harm — “you’ll get hit by lightning!”).

I was copying the lines of a charcoal drawing of a cat, but for practice in making a cat look like a cat. Later, for my own homework assignment, I planned to look at videos of cats on YouTube and then draw something that I saw myself.

+++

#2.

I was in Gramma’s attic, with Gramma and Spouse, but unlike the real place, this “attic” was a warren of rooms separated by half-walls (with the floor covering half an acre). Everywhere I looked there were all sorts of treasures from every period of my life: art, clothes, shoes, accessories, jewelry.

Spouse and I were attempting to pack up “just a few things” to take home with us, but that quickly got out of hand — I kept discovering new things that I wanted to take home and look at and think about.

I also kept uncovering caches of food, some of which had been up there for years, like, 15 years. That was mostly dried up and mummified.

There were cool art things that Gramma had made, letters she (and other people) had written. I found a pile of letters my mother had written to someone else about me.

There were pretty dresses I vaguely remembered buying years before, but most of which I’d never worn. One such was an empire-waist dress in floaty chiffon of off-white, with a vertical stripe down the front in shades of purple. There was also a dress I had worn: the kelly green coatdress I wore to AC’s wedding near Detroit.

There were lots of luggage and duffel bags, made out of colorful prints of woven cotton.

I ran across the cognac-colored cardigan*, folded, and thought to myself, “That’s the second one.”

As I came around a corner and saw the stairwell and its walls of yellow-gold, I cried, seeing the warm color. Felt anticipated grief: “gonna miss this house”, when we finally get everything out of it.

There was so much stuff on this storey that I thought Gramma might be a hoarder, but so much of the stuff was precious to me, and beautiful — I couldn’t blame her at all for not wanting to let go of it. Plus, hadn’t Gramma had her share of traumas? Same as me.

I kept being surprised at how intricate the patterns and designs were, how colorful, how appealing.

= = =

My sister E and cousin P showed up. P was getting married again — I saw a group of the favors she’d bought for her bridesmaids this time. It vaguely occurred to me that she might have asked me to be a bridesmaid this time, but (if she had) I’d turned her down. I hadn’t met her fiancée, but my sister had.

I was briefly confused when P said something to E about “David”, but it turned out that “David” was the name of E’s boyfriend. The two of them were getting serious as well.

I was glad to be with Spouse.

= = =

In a ballroom-like room, with crimson damask fabric hung on the walls. I was dancing like no one could see me . . . although E and P could see me, and they thought I was nuts.

+++

NOTES:

#1.

“Honor, integrity” — those exact words — surfaced in an interaction with someone recently.

In the dream, I was confused about Spouse’s actions because he first had to remove the painting’s frame, then mount it in a shadowbox (to make it appear to be his own work) — it would’ve been so much quicker to just do the assignment himself! Why go through all that bother?

All I know about Justin Bieber is that he’s a pop singer who became famous as a teenager through YouTube; I’ve never heard his music. Wikipedia says Brueghel was a 16th century Dutch “painter and printmaker of landscapes and peasant scenes”. The colors of the painting on the Wikipedia page look dreary; my dream’s painting, while a “landscape”, was more abstract-looking swirls of reds and blues. I only really noticed the details of the brushstrokes.

Red and blue are both “masculine” colors to me. Bieber and Brueghel are both men, both artists. Music, painting, building with wood vs. drawing lines with charcoal.

= = =

Part of me is trying too hard to appear to be more capable, in media I’m not skilled with, than I actually am? But another part asserts it’s better to ‘walk’, when it’s my own work, than ‘run’ when it’s someone else’s?

= = =

Most of my poems are pretty short.

I’ve been struggling for several years now to do a visual poem about Chesapeake Bay, but nothing I’ve tried has worked. Maybe I need to go ‘back to basics’ somehow: Stop trying to make it look Really Cool, and just get something down on paper that’s a decent draft.

+++

#2.

I don’t dream about Gramma’s house all that often anymore, but when I do, Gramma herself isn’t in it, like she was in this one. And Spouse in the dream as well? Very unusual.

Gramma and Spouse were puttering around doing their own things, and I barely interacted with them at all, but since in my dreams they’re both ‘manager’ type characters, I infer that they trusted me enough to get done what needed to get done (i.e., no micromanaging necessary).

Lots of colors in this one, and not the same colors as the earlier dream.

Green is a color of change and growth; when I wore that coatdress in waking life, I felt strong and capable and confident.

{This dream inspired me so much that I took a Big Leap into a project I’ve long aspired to doing.}

= = =

I think the colorful and intricate patterns and designs of the stuff I wanted to take ‘home’ with me symbolize possibilities of reinterpreting my past experiences in ways that are pleasing and offer insight.

= = =

There is actually only one cognac-colored cabled cardigan, but in waking life, I had just unpacked it the day before (it had been packed since our move last November). Gramma was involved in how I acquired the sweater 23 years ago, although it wasn’t a gift, exactly. {I’m wearing the sweater right now.}

= = =

Dream-E and dream-P were really chummy, and I’ve had dreams where that would’ve really bothered me, but in this one, I felt like they were almost ghosts to me. Like they were… neighbors from our old house (whom I hadn’t seen in 25 years), or people I vaguely recalled might have been in a pottery class I took in 2001. I wasn’t even curious about their new loves!

= = =

Yellow and yellow-orange, to me, are colors of inner power.

Not sure what the crimson brocade was about.

Although… uXomeia, my personal goddess of writing, has the colors of yellow-gold and ruby red.

I do actually dance like no one’s watching, even if they are, but could ‘dancing’ in the dream be a metaphor for writing my own stuff, even if no one else gets it? Or is it just ‘being myself’?

career and meaning and purpose

June 29, 2015

When I re-read my previous post, I get a gestalt sense of what ‘my life’s work’ is, but I can’t describe it in words. Nor does it seem like, if I could describe it in words, I would gain any insight.

I can ‘dimly perceive’ it, which means… my mind’s eye isn’t involved. Instead, it’s my mind’s skin, my mind’s fingers, maybe even my mind’s nose. In other words, I’m feeling it.

+++

My experiences at the (mostly) 10-year intervals nest within each other. And they cluster.

They are… self-organizing.

(I am not ‘directing’ them. There is no plan.)

+++

I’m process-oriented, not results-oriented, so… I’m not going to ‘arrive’ at Something. What I’ve been doing, all along, is what my ‘career’ is.

This is why ‘mentors’… don’t make any sense for me. I don’t need advice about How to Get To X. I’m not solving for X; I’m discovering it. I’m figuring out what to do next, doing it, deciding how it made sense; do I want more of it, less of it, it combine it with other things, go in a different direction next time, etc., etc. … that’s my creativity. That’s what I’m good at.

Mentors ‘save’ you time and effort; mentors help you gain resources you couldn’t get on your own.

My processes… take a long time. For example, I still haven’t figured out how to write about HUC 0206 or HUC 02 [Spring/Summer 2011] or any other watersheds/waterbodies of interest [Autumn 2012].

Various people have given me advice about how I might try to do those things. None of their advice resonated (‘felt’ ‘right’ / seemed useful).

I HAVE TO DISCOVER ‘HOW’ ON MY OWN.

I need to… find… things, when it’s the right time. I don’t know when or where the right time is, until I get there, and things that had mystified me ‘suddenly’ Make Sense.

No one can help me with that. No one can directly help me with that. No one can try to help me with that.

{I have often wished that someone could. I have often thought I just hadn’t found the ‘right’ people yet.}

Mentors ‘saving’ effort would… negate my enjoyment, which would destroy my motivation to do anything at all.

Resources… that’s been the really tricky one all along. I yearn for resources unlike the ones easily at hand — I want More Flavorful / More Influential / More Important.

And yet…

I already have More Flavorful because of the sheer variety of flavor notes of the experiences I keep accumulating. They can be combined in all sorts of ways, emergently adding insights to my understanding. They can be enjoyed as they are. They can give me ideas what I might try next.

Circa 10 years ago, I was one nameless / unacknowledged supplier of data on the ORSANCO project, that was nested within a larger dream of North American Water Standards. I still feel part of that larger entity. That experience is still shaping me.

Maybe I’ve been looking at More Influential from the wrong end? Not me influencing and changing others, but me being influenced and changed by what I enfold into my life. What becomes part of me.

What could be More Important than learning How to Live / Be a Good Neighbor?

I read an article today about a man in the UK who underwent a desensitizing program at London Zoo for arachnophobes. At the end of it, he was able to handle common and not-so-common spiders without fear. Later, he captured a house spider at his home, and released it outside.

Up until 2012, even though I was fascinated by spiderwebs, I was terrified of spiders. That summer, a large orb weaving spider moved into our balcony garden. Her daily web anchored on the threshold of the sliding glass door, so I had to overcome terror just to exit into the garden. Wanting to Be a Good Neighbor {my own philosophical/moral practice of several years}, I got to know her as an individual. I took lots of photographs of her. I observed her behavior at different times. She became part of my world, part of my household.

Without her, I would not have been receptive to the wolf spider that moved into my car circa 2014. {I have a funny story about that spider from last summer; I keep forgetting to write about it.}

If I’d just paid money to a zoo and gone through a program, would I have changed, deep down? It doesn’t seem very likely.

What becomes possible, now that I have changed, deep down?

+++

I’ve a litany of Deep Down changes, that were my own ideas, that I made happen under my own power. That is the work, my life’s work.

I’m Becoming.

dreaming my w’s

June 29, 2015

timeline: late June

 

2014:

1st visit to P, in Prince George’s County, south of Annapolis (but still in my home watershed). Therapy incorporating dance/movement for processing and releasing bodily traumas.

 

2013:

  • Impatiently waiting for my name change to go through.
  • Assessing what went wrong in Philly & thinking differently for NM.
  • Preparing for Ghost Ranch writing retreat.

 

2012:

Home alone while Spouse went back to Kentucky. Only then realizing how much time I generally spend doing only what I think other people expect me to do, rather than what I want to be doing. Resolving to change that, even when Spouse returns.

 

2011:

Finishing up the Science Writing class at The Writer’s Center. Realizing I’m not ready to ‘write science’ just yet. Wondering how I could write about all the watersheds in HUC 0206, or even in HUC 02: what could I write? Who might want to read it? Where could I get it published?

 

2010:

Fieldwork in a fen. I wasn’t able to do almost anything I’d thought I was there for; I snapped some intriguing photos though. At lunch, listening to others talking about their favorite experiences of fieldwork, I realized my own previous experiences were precious to me because they weren’t sitting at a desk, inside a building; because I was immersed in the outside; because I was doing unusual things… but not because I was enjoying myself ~ Making myself do something I was terrified of. Spraining my wrist. Chiggers munching on my ankle. 8 hours of weeding while being wetter than I’ve ever been in my life. Heat stroke.

But if fieldwork isn’t what I want, what is?

= = =

2005:

  • Quitting grad school, with exhausted and demoralized relief.
  • Giving a talk about my life in OKC in 1985 to a group of violent juvenile sex offenders, so that they might learn empathy. There were tears, and they weren’t all mine. I helped.
  • Continuing to revise letter to my parents about cutting ties with them. {Sent in October.}

= = =

1995:

  • Decorating and organizing our new house {Indianapolis}.
  • Preparing to begin my “freshman” year as a biology major at Purdue University.

= = =

1985:

Living back in Illinois with my parents, wondering what to do with my life now that it was “over”.

= = =

1975:

Probably picking dandelions. Hanging out with chicory and Queen Anne’s Lace in the Triangle; imagining I was a rabbit, or a rock. Swimming in our family’s pool. Basking in the sun like a turtle. Reading a book.

+++

We’re in Cancer, a month of Water, of emotions and memory. Symbolized by a crab, and why shouldn’t it be a blue crab, a famous icon of Maryland?

I’ve seen a great deal more of Maryland than I ever did of Illinois.

Spouse would say, “You’re not really ‘from Illinois’ so much as you’re ‘from Chicagoland’. Illinois is the Midwest, but Chicago is its own thing. You’re not really a Midwesterner, exactly.”

After living in Indianapolis for 13.5 years — definitely the Midwest — I would have to agree.

All of which feels irrelevant now: I am ‘from’ Maryland because this is where I grew into the person I should be.

I took what I learned from Indiana, and planted it. Here, it grew. Here, I am blossoming with flowers I never even imagined.

Here, I have boundaries.

Here, I can choose.

= = =

Who ~ MWF, with none of the names my parents picked.

What ~ my life’s work.

Where ~ northern Baltimore County, Maryland. HUC 02060003. In the region of Chesapeake Bay.

Why ~ discovering & creating what only I can do {joy}, and growing into doing it skillfully.

When ~ now.

Reading List 6 of 2015

June 24, 2015
tags: ,

Covers the period from 6.1.15 through 6.24.15  

 

I only own 4 of these books. Baltimore County Public Library system supplied 9 of the books; libraries in other parts of Maryland, via Inter-Library Loan, supplied the other 14.

 

Autism spectrum:

  • 22 Things a Woman with Asperger’s Syndrome Wants Her Partner to Know by Rudy Simone
  • Alone Together: Making an Asperger Marriage Work by Katrin Bentley {partially read}
  • Asperger’s on the Job: Must-Have Advice… by Rudy Simone
  • The Autism Revolution: Whole-Body Strategies for Making Life All It Can Be by Martha Herbert & Karen Weintraub {partially read}
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder: The Complete Guide to Understanding Autism, Revised Edition, by Chantal Sicile-Kira
  • The Autistic Brain: Thinking Across the Spectrum by Temple Grandin and Richard Panek
  • Different…Not Less by Temple Grandin
  • How to Be Human: Diary of an Autistic Girl by Florida Frenz
  • The Journal of Best Practices: A Memoir of Marriage, Asperger… by David Finch
  • “Just Give Him the Whale!”: 20 Ways to Use Fascinations, Areas of Expertise, and Strengths to Support Students with Autism by Paula Kluth & Patrick Schwarz
  • Very Late Diagnosis of Asperger Syndrome by Philip Wylie

 

Dance:

  • Masters of Movement: Portraits of America’s Great Choreographers by Rose Eichenbaum
  • Through the Eyes of a Dancer: Selected Writings by Wendy Perron {partially read}

 

Psychology:

  • Dance Movement Therapy: Theory and Practice by Helen Payne
  • Feminist Archetypal Theory: Interdisciplinary Re-Visions of Jungian Thought, edited by Estella Lauter and Carol Schreier Rupprecht

 

Fiction:

  • A Blind Goddess (A Billy Boyle WW2 Mystery) by James R. Benn
  • [SFF] The Age of Ice by J. M. Sidorova {partially read}
  • [SFF] Charm (Tales from the Kingdoms) by Sarah Pinborough
  • [SFF] Irenicon: Book 1 of the Wave Trilogy by Aidan Harte
  • [SFF] My Real Children by Jo Walton
  • [SFF] The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi

 

Poetry:

  • A Formal Feeling Comes: Poems in Form by Contemporary Women, edited by Annie Finch
  • Calendars by Annie Finch
  • Poetry Notebook: Reflections on the Intensity of Language by Clive James {partially read}
  • Rivers to the Sea by Sara Teasdale
  • Strange Victory by Sara Teasdale
  • Three Women Poets of the Renaissance and Baroque: Louise Labé, Gaspara Stampa, and Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz, by Frank J. Warnke

 

+++

car talk

June 23, 2015

I’ve had my current car, Juicy Fruit, for >11 years (the longest I’ve ever owned a car, by 3+ years). She’s never been in an accident; never been dented, scratched, or scraped.

And then today’s hailstorm happened. Extensive popcorn dents on the roof, a huge dent that peeled paint off the trunk, and… the rear window was destroyed. Glass fragments all over the inside of the car, the outside, the parking lot around my car.

Spouse cleaned up as much as it as he could manage, given it was already dark out when he began. (He insisted he didn’t need my help.)

He thinks my back speakers may also be ruined.

= = =

We’re supposed to get more rain Thursday, so he’s arranged to have car-window-repair people who come to you come out Thursday morning (the only appointment they had free this week).

= = =

His office, where he was stuck during the storm, is only ~ 4 miles north of our apartment, and while they got hail, it was nowhere near as big as the golfball-sized stuff we got.

But hey, I met some of our neighbors! One guy is a stormchaser type who was videotaping the storm before the hail, and caught my car before, and after.

Everyone in our parking lot suffered some damage, but my car seemed to get the worst of it.

= = =

In the apartment during the monsoon-like rain, and then hail, I feared the storm windows were going to break inward, the hail was hitting so hard. I sat in the hallway, back braced against the wall, monitoring the weather via Twitter on my phone. Our power was out for about 3 hours.

It could have been a lot worse.

Dream: 6.22.15

June 22, 2015

In the universe of the dream, I was living with my parents, age early 30s-ish, and as things began, I had been out all night. I’d been driving my father’s car (maroon — I think that one was a Buick?), and I needed to get it back in my parents’ driveway as soon as I could. Preferably before the sun came up.

{I don’t remember the part of the dream that explains what I did next, but} I drove to the Karwatowiczes’ house. I knew how to jimmy the lock on the side door, and I crept into the house, trying to recall the path to the garage, from the inside. There was enough ambient light to see by. I walked by bamboo blinds on one door’s window. I passed a living room full of blonde wood furniture, white walls, kind of an airy Swedish Modern look to the décor. I stopped and took a moment to just feel the place. To remember my past in this place. The house… remembered me. I was welcome in it, and I was glad to be back, however briefly.

As I entered the kitchen, I realized a person was moving around in there. A man. The father. {In my mind, I thought of him, and addressed him as “Dr. K”, but in universe, he, and the 2 sons of his I had loved were all doctors, although I think Tony had a Ph.D., not an M.D.}

I decided to brazen it out. I said, “My father’s car is in your driveway, which probably looks like I was here all night [implication: with one of your sons], but I wasn’t. I just want to pick it up and take it home before my parents wake up and notice it’s still gone.”

Dr. K said he’d already noticed the car. He seemed to believe me (!).

He treated me like an interesting person that he liked and respected during the really pleasant chat about stuff {that I don’t recall} that followed. It was surreal, though, because I was half-aware that time was passing, and I really needed to get going, soonest. And yet, this interchange was so enjoyable, I couldn’t make myself leave.

I kept misplacing my glasses, then having to wander around the first floor, looking for them {both before talking to Dr. K, and during}. I also kept misplacing the car keys.

Dr. K said something about having seen my parents recently. I said something back that ended with, “Hopefully someday soon I’ll move out and get a good job and < pause > never have to see them again.” Dr. K looked taken aback; there was an awkward silence, during which I recalled that he actually liked his own kids.

I heard someone moving around upstairs. I wanted to go upstairs, but I knew I really couldn’t — it would be so rude.

A man descended the (long) staircase, coming out of shadows. {I had multiple perspectives, so that I both saw them coming from where I was standing in the hallway, and was also sitting in the kitchen with their father.} Dr. K said something about Adam; I replied, “I haven’t seen Adam in years!”

I had been hoping the person approaching was Tony, but it was Adam.

He didn’t look anything like the person I used to know: he towered over me; his hair was so dark it was almost black, and it was oiled into ringlets, with a buzzcut on top. Without any thought in my head, I reached out to touch his hair. I kept touching it as he started talking; he didn’t seem to mind or even notice really. I was so distracted by his hair not even feeling like it used to that I didn’t catch anything that he said until I took my hand away. He was telling a long involved anecdote about his hair, and their neighbors; his tone of voice was petulant, needling.

I realized he didn’t know who I was — he didn’t remember me at all — and he wasn’t the slightest bit curious about this unfamiliar person talking to his father in the kitchen very early one morning. He just didn’t care.

I… looked at him one last time, and mentally… let him go.

I told Dr. K that if my parents woke up before I got back, “it won’t matter what the Real Story is — I’ll never get to tell it; they’ll just punish me as if the story were whatever lurid / criminal / depraved thing they’re imagining.”

Finally, I really couldn’t delay any longer: it was time to go. I walked out to the driveway, saw the car. Realized something problematic, went back inside. Adam was gone. Dr. K was not in the kitchen; I roved through other parts of the first floor, finally finding him in a study, where he was working on something. I caught his attention, gingerly, and asked if he could drive Automatic? He said, “It just takes a bit of attention at first. Then it’s fine.” I laughed, with relief, saying, “I haven’t driven an Automatic since… I got my first car in 1991.” So, okay, Dr. K wasn’t going to drive the car home for me.

I left again, went back to the driveway. I slowly took in what was there now: a red commercial car parked on top of a red pickup truck. It took me a while to figure out that my father’s car was no longer there.

For a second I thought Adam might have moved it, then realized, to my dismay, my father must have woken up, realized it was gone, and somehow knew to check here for it??!? Then used his own car keys to take it home. There was going to be hell to pay!

I set off across the grass, towards my parents’ neighborhood.

{This last scene, the layout was of our neighborhood in Glen Ellyn, not Naperville.}

+++

NOTES:

Long after I’d moved away, then married and lived out of state, my parents got to know the K parents through some church group. That’s how it came about that my mother got a Christmas photo with the whole K clan in 2000, and she saved it for me. When I saw it, Tony jumped out at me, but I had to do a process of elimination to figure out who Adam was — he no longer looked anything like the person I used to know. (But he hadn’t become taller than me, didn’t have dark brown hair, or ringlets. He was just… kind of colorless, blended into the wallpaper.)

= = =

30+ years of dreaming of Adam and Tony, but I think this is the first time their father has appeared in one of my dreams. I was actually acquainted with their father, and I actually did like him, and like talking to him. The dream-Dr K, like the real person I knew in the 1980s, had reddish hair, a kind of quiet presence, was really smart. Soft-spoken, inwardly-focused. Courteous. Kind.

= = =

I really did know the K house, but in an unusual way. The forest between my parents’ house and Pioneer Park, where I spent many happy hours as a kid, gradually became a subdivision. The summer I was 15, I found out from a kid I barely knew in some convoluted way that the K’s were having a new house built in that subdivision. I went over there, befriended all the construction guys, and thereby found the house that was going to be the K’s house. I went over to their house every chance I got. I spent hours walking around the upstairs, looking out the (framed) windows, trying to figure out which room would be Tony’s, be Adam’s. I imagined myself in the house, or maybe, really, as the house.

Huh. I’d forgotten all about that. I imagined I was the house.

The only other house I’d ever imagined myself being was… Gramma’s house.

For years and years, when I dreamed, my “soul” or “deepest self” appeared as a character in the persona of Gramma’s house. Until now, I’d always thought that was because of how close I was to Gramma, and also that I’d lived with her, before I was married. But what if it was also because I’d imagined I was the house?

The K’s house absolutely invokes me being 15, which was a turning point in my life, the magical watershed time I’m always wishing I could go back to, and take a different path. There was this… moment… not a quick 60-second moment, but a timeless / Time Has No Meaning *moment* where, at 15, I knew who I was, and what I should be, and I thought I could get there.

= = =

This is really freaky, but in a Good Way.

= = =

Am I back at that crossroads? And now, I can choose differently. I have the inner resources to be successful at what matters to me — I just have to dare, to do.

autism: sensory-processing problems

June 21, 2015

Finished reading Temple Grandin’s The Autistic Brain: Thinking Across the Spectrum. I was surprised to recognize how many difficulties I’ve always had that turn out to be sensory-processing issues.

Seeing (pp. 95–96)

  • I’m not sure if I tilt my head when I’m reading, but I do look out of the corners of my eyes.
  • I avoid fluorescent lights ~ the flickering makes me irritable, if not rageful.
  • It took me years and years to figure out how to safely get on and off escalators. I still have problems sometimes. (One of my uncles was an elevator/escalator repairman, and all his horror stories during my childhood about finding fingers and shoes in the machinery did not help at all!)
  • My night perception is awful, so I’ve always hated driving at night. Driving at night in the rain is a nightmare.
  • I dislike things in my field of vision moving rapidly or unpredictably. Disorienting.

 

Hearing (pp. 96–97)

  • Spouse could tell of 2 particular situations where I was heading right for a dangerous animal, people were calling me back, and I didn’t hear them at all. {“sometimes appears deaf, even though auditory threshold is normal or near”} Also, if I don’t have my eyeglasses on, I often don’t realize people are speaking to me, nor do I understand what they’re saying. I reflexively lip-read when I know that someone is addressing me, and I often still have to ask for clarifications of people who mumble, like Spouse often does.
  • Background noise not only derails my train of thought but spikes my anxiety and can confuse me completely.
  • I definitely cover my ears during loud sounds.
  • I’ve had meltdowns in noisy places, especially if they’re also visually-chaotic. I have shut down to the extent of being almost catatonic. (Impossible to explain at, say, an office party.)
  • Piercing sounds such as smoke alarms and fire alarms, but also certain types of cries from babies or children, not only hurt my ears, they hurt my brain: everything else shuts down while I wait for it stop. I may also be saying angry things, not even realizing it.
  • In over-stimulating environments, I probably won’t pick up almost anything that’s said. Lip-reading may provide some context; either way, I’ll just nod a lot, and try to laugh in the right places, based on what others are doing.
  • I frequently misidentify which direction a sound is coming from.

Gives me a whole new slew of reasons why one of my first full-time jobs — as a switchboard operator — was the dreadful, high stress experience that it was.

 

Touch (p. 97)

  • Hugs are tricky. I really like them from people I trust that are deep-huggers — not a lot of people fall into that category, though. And if I used to trust you but don’t anymore, or we’re having issues, you touching me makes my skin crawl. A hug is the worst. And yet, due to social concerns, I probably won’t feel like I can refuse a hug if you offer one.
  • I remember running around naked a lot, or going topless as a little kid, a lot longer than a girl was supposed to. I still prefer to be naked a lot. I would go topless if it was allowed.
  • All sorts of fabrics itched and annoyed my skin when I was a kid. I would pitch a fit, and then my mother would yell that it couldn’t be that bad. I didn’t have hardly any favorite clothes until I was old enough to pick out my own. I hated buttons. I wouldn’t wear wool; I could still feel the scratchiness through 1 or 2 cotton underlayers. Shoes are more of a problem for me than socks — they often pinch my toes, or chafe my heels or under my ankles. I’d rather go barefoot, but then stepping on sharp spiky things is a concern.
  • Nylon stockings were torture: not just the unbreathability, but my sweat sliding over my legs, ick ick ick. Can’t wear polar fleece, except as an outer layer. I wear cotton, silk, linen, soft and/or smooth weaves or knits, as often as possible.
  • Deep-pressure stimulation! (Who knew it had a name!) As a kid I liked finding small dark places to squeeze into: others talked of claustrophobia the way I feel in places crowded with human beings. I curled up under coats at parties, to avoid people, and be in the dark. I like wearing big bulky sweaters (that aren’t itchy) because they feel like a big hug, but I don’t have to keep pestering a person to hug me. Since I’m often cold, I’d wrap up in tons of blankets, and/or sleep in my clothes, just leaving a tiny hole for air. As a teenager, I read a SFF novel about aliens that were sort of like dogs, and they “slept in piles, like puppies”. That image… I immediately stopped reading so I could imagine what that would feel like, and it felt wonderful. I’ve thought about that scene so often in the 35 years since. When I read The Merro Tree, years later, there’s also a scene where aliens that look like giant snakes sleep in a pile, and again, I spent time imagining I was in the pile with them. (Although which people could I trust not to squish me?)

Spouse is a Super-Taster, so he doesn’t like most foods, and has issues with food textures. I never really thought about food texture as a thing, but there were definitely lots of foods I didn’t like as a kid, but my mother kept putting them in my school lunches anyway. I just threw them away, and didn’t eat anything.

At home, I ate really really slowly, probably partly because I didn’t like the food choices. But my mother would make me sit at the table until I finished, even if was an hour or 2 later.

That’s probably part of why I was always underweight as a kid, and developed an eating disorder as an adult. I still… forget to eat a lot. It’s so much bother, and now that I have a bunch of (known) GI issues, I’m just constantly waiting to see if something I ate is going to disagree with me.

+++

All these environmental complications, but somehow I’m still supposed to have great social skills? Who has the energy available? Even if I could figure it out, which I have great difficulty with.

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