kaberett: Euphorbia cf. serrata, green crown of leaves/flowers central to image. (spurge)
& specifically on the topic of Fiona/mittens, with thanks to [personal profile] sebastienne for giving this particular set of thoughts shape (though naturally all remaining errors and infelicities are my own)--

Read more... )
kaberett: Euphorbia cf. serrata, green crown of leaves/flowers central to image. (spurge)
I really struggle with short fiction, particularly in anthologies. I'm averse to getting started and I have to make myself pick them back up, even if I know I like the authors, even though I know I frequently really like several pieces in any given anthology.

It's about task-switching, isn't it. Every new short story is a new task, with new information and names and mechanics to keep track of, and anthologies condense those down, and I never have time to settle in and stop doing the work of understanding all of the surface (in order to understand the innards). And that's why even individual shorts by authors I know I adore are difficult (if they're out-universe to novels).

It's nice to know why, at least.
kaberett: Overlaid Mars & Venus symbols, with Swiss Army knife tools at other positions around the central circle. (Default)
VOLCANO SHARKS (actually that should maybe go in [community profile] capslock_dreamwidth as well, anyone feel like sorting that out for me)

10 things I wish I'd known about gaslighting. Quotation. )

[personal profile] happydork posted a thing about introversion, social anxiety, social skills, and change that made me feel very soothed and much calmer about some of the stuff I do. Hurrah paradigms that help.

Speaking of things that soothe me, [personal profile] recessional has posted another small commentfic about Bucky (in your blue-eyed boys-verse, which is actual MCU canon as far as I'm concerned), about trauma and safety and sleep and hypervigilance and how astonishing the people around you can be, in embodying traits and behaviours and beliefs you hadn't realised were possible but want to fold into yourself.
kaberett: Euphorbia cf. serrata, green crown of leaves/flowers central to image. (spurge)
Sad and insomniac? Focus difficult? Feeling useless? Give it a couple of kilos of loose change in a range of currencies and it'll be happy for hours.

(Reasons to keep facesfriend around: I erupted into a small victory hiss at him as he was saying goodnight on IM, because having earlier found obsolete English shillings I had finally finally a little over an hour later found obsolete Austrian Schilling to go with them, and he appeared to find this hilarious and adorable because he understood exactly why I found it so satisfying.)
kaberett: Euphorbia cf. serrata, green crown of leaves/flowers central to image. (spurge)
It is a delight to me that I had a conversation on Sunday night in which I pointed out to facesfriend that I do not, in point of fact, know them very well -- I started paying any consistent attention to their existence about 6 months ago and we started dating about 4 months ago (which is weird for me; I am really not used to getting to know people by dating them); he looked gently baffled and said he thought that, in fact, I knew him pretty well. I paused. "Okay," I said, "my predictive model for your behaviour is based on a relatively small sample size, and what data I do have isn't necessarily representative." "Right," he said, "that makes sense." Hurrah for human interactions wherein I get to express myself like that and it's just okay; this is, of course, some of why Hel bemoans that there's no way they can ever write dialogue that is an accurate representation of conversations they have with friends, because nobody would believe people talk that way in real life.

(Tangentially relatedly, but only sort of sideways rather than directly: I am having a pretty bad case of the I-am-not-allowed-to-want-things/I-am-not-allowed-to-be-wanteds this week. Not entirely sure why, but it's a thing; sorry if I go a bit spiky and weird on you.)
kaberett: Overlaid Mars & Venus symbols, with Swiss Army knife tools at other positions around the central circle. (Default)
Happy housiversary: my housemate and I have been living together for a year as of today in our ridiculous flat with our ridiculous lives, and she just took the time to spend five minutes curled up on me on my sofa catching up before running out the door again. It is pretty great.

I just sent myself an e-mail containing the following:

Marie on Mars: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0012821X14007262

Lunar dynamo paper: www.sciencemag.org/content/346/6214/1246753.abstract

Carbon-bearing iron phases and the carbon isotope composition of the deep earth: http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2014/12/11/1401782112.short

LIPs and supercontinent assembly: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S026437071400163X

Lower-mantle water reservoir: http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/v8/n1/full/ngeo2306.html

Lunar cryptomaria: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0032063314003912

I am having feelings about access to speech.

I wrote two things for Yuletide this year: At the going down of the sun, in the Vorkosiverse, an oral biography/history of Olivia Vorbarra Vorkosigan's life and how she got involved with Piotr anyway; and a treat in the Mechsverse, specifically about the Sirens in Ulysses Dies At Dawn: You'll Reign Supreme. Two things to note: (1) I now want to write Ulysses-fic about the Furies; (2) to my utter bafflement, the Vorkosigan fic has immediately become the most liked thing I've ever written??? Which I suppose is a little reassuring given that I wasn't convinced I'd done a terribly good job of it.

I have discovered that I can reliably do French and Dutch braids tolerably neatly on myself. This is excellent because it means that my hair is less of a disaster when I go a week without brushing it, which makes Dealing With It less intimidating; it's also excellent for reasons including "it does a better job of keeping my hair off my face" and "people's reactions are really funny".

I am poking at my brain quite hard and will post about it soon.
kaberett: a patch of sunlight on the carpet, shaped like a slightly wonky heart (light hearted)
Unfamiliar but meticulously planned route (mostly on tube) to friend's house in Peckham earlier: actual panic including some capslocky flailing text messages.

Improvisational night buses back: not a problem.

Which, as best as I can tell, is because (1) nobody was expecting me/waiting for me, and (2) it was travelling homeward so the journey got progressively easier. Anyway, the upshot is that it took me 90 minutes to get home (via three buses), of which half an hour was walking; I could probably have shaved some extra time off by taking a route I was less familiar with but hey, whatever, I got a lot of code written on the buses and successfully made it home, so.

Ten good things:
1. Awesome ex-housemate C's birthday not-a-party; pizza + cake + a bafflingly preposterous film.
2. ... I made a cake while simultaneously making dinner and reducing the washing-up pile to tractable size...
3. ... and just about squeaked it all into the available time after getting back from work, where I sorted out cleaning up the mass spec.
4. Lots more of the ridiculous script! Really I should not be at ~200 lines to plot some bloody graphs I think, and on the other hand I'm doing rather better error handling and abstracting lots etc etc etc. (Well, relative to an early incarnation. It's still preeeeeetty specific to my particular data and how I've piled it up.)
5. I am continuing to derive more satisfaction than is perhaps reasonable from the silly computer game I'm being ridiculously completionist about.
6. I am having a lot of thoughts and feelings about being-imperfect-in-public, and what it means that I am proud of putting up shoddy code and poem drafts and such, and maybe there will be a longer post on this.
7. Housemate (who is a pretty integral part of my support system at this stage) has told me about a couple of medium-duration trips away from home she'll be taking in the next few weeks. I continue not freaking out despite the relevant trauma (like, it isn't even sitting up and sniffing). This continues incredibly validating.
8. Having articulated that I have spent the past couple of months pretty continuously low-grade triggered, I am much calmer and much more together and much more relaxed and it is awesome. It is so, so nice. It is so nice.
9. ... Korra 4x04 went some way towards redeeming the terrible politics of the first three seasons??? Decidedly partial, but!
10. Sleep-tracking app appears to be having the effect of encouraging me to consciously work on catching up on sleep (and to be more aware of what I do need to average). I'm currently averaging ~8hrs/night; I really do need to get it up to 9, and while that clearly isn't going to be happening tonight it's very nice to have the information. The downside is that when I'm getting ~enough sleep I get much more vivid and memorable (and often unpleasant) dreams than when I'm in continuous major sleep dep, but hey.

Oh! And I washed my hair, and Ancillary Sword is more and more appealing the more I sit with it, so I suspect I will be going back to it for a slow-and-steady reread sometime soonish.. General Please.
kaberett: Euphorbia cf. serrata, green crown of leaves/flowers central to image. (spurge)
At the moment I'm talking a fair bit with [personal profile] quartzpebble about how disorienting and terrifying executive dysfunction can be. We've both been offered PhD places at prestigious institutions, we're clearly both capable of doing very good work within the context of the academy, and yet some days we not only can't even begin but we can't reliably sleep schedule or feed ourselves. Finding diagnoses that explain it - ways that other people have spotted patterns that match our behaviour, that mean it's not an individualised problem of laziness or whatever - is an immensely big deal, and nonetheless I just keep on coming back to Onsind when they sing I only wish that I could find a way to accurately describe the effect that this has on me.

Internalised ableism, I suspect, is playing a role here; to large extent I've learned that feelings of shocked betrayal aren't a terribly useful response to one of my legs refusing to bear weight, and that neuropathy affecting my lower limb function isn't actually a moral failing on my part. I can even do this about obvious depression-related symptoms. But just the executive dysfunction...? Not so much.

I have no idea how to make this work with my job. I love doing my PhD and I love being in academia and I'm very, very scared about the extent to which being an independent PhD student, "not needing hand-holding" (or, less disparagingly, "being self-directed"), is valued -- because of all the ways in which I can't be self-directed.

Which brings us on to the stranger on the bus a month or two ago who decided that the wheelchair-using young lady was appropriate cripspiration and started telling me about how amazing it was I was leaving my house, etc etc, along with cheerfully recounting for me the story about how her father always said that "can't" is spelled w-o-n-t.

Over and over again (I only wish...) I come back to "can't" and "won't", to the difference between "this is not a thing I am capable of" (and, again, I find this easier to handle in terms of physical impairments) and "I am not willing to make the necessary trade-offs to do this thing", to learning to trust myself in setting and defending those boundaries, to being able to believe that just because I can pay a price doesn't mean I must. "Won't" is allowed. "Won't" is permitted. This thing, too, I may have.
kaberett: a dalek stands at the foot of a flight of stairs, thinking "fuck." (dalek)
On Friday, I didn't make it out of bed until about noon, then threw myself through the shower and such as P was due to arrive. I then flumped about pretty uselessly until he prodded me out of the door and onto a train and basically dealt with getting me to the picnic that was M&C's joint stag/hen do. We stayed until 6ish, and I think I then maybe napped? But we collectively got some work done, ate another meal, and I introduced P to some of my current favourite TV and also some poetry I hadn't waved at him before.

Saturday he again took responsibility for getting us out of bed and out of the house for breakfast and in enough time that I could do the necessaries at work, we spent a bit more time than intended hanging around at the V&A, and then wedding. He & Nik took charge of making sure I made it from the wedding venue to the reception; after an hour or so at the reception I made it home, where [personal profile] rysmiel provided incentive to make there be dinner and spend the evening being vaguely human and useful.

Sunday rysmiel left early for their next thing, P & I woke up late (around noon), then I think P took charge of making sure we ate and I mostly spent the afternoon/evening asleep because I was wobbly as all get-out, to the extent that I stayed in bed rather than going to the Prom I wanted to (P went to the thing himself, I stayed horizontal and slept some more until I got well enough that I could get the breadmaker going for ill-advised late-night baking, and then I rearranged the kitchen some in ways I didn't really think through at all that resulted in me having to do a controlled fall in the pantry because I'd lost the ability to stand again).

Monday, again, P took responsibility for getting us out of bed at 11amish, phoning in a lunch booking and route-planning to get us to & from the place, and then for getting us out the door in time for the Prom (to which we did both make it). Also for organising dinner.

Today he left at around 8.15am. It is now 2, and so far I have managed to sleep through the fortnightly lab meeting I'm supposed to e-mail reminders about for the second time running, brush my teeth, and eat yesterday's leftover curry. Also check my e-mail. Smallcousins are having a summer party I really want to go to, but the idea of finding my way to Liverpool Street and then managing a train is daunting enough that I have not yet actually managed to get out of bed properly or shower or anything.

This is kind of why I need a carer. :-/
kaberett: Euphorbia cf. serrata, green crown of leaves/flowers central to image. (spurge)
I decided this morning that I was sufficiently upset about the vile autism-bashing in a panel description to send an e-mail about it. Within two hours I'd had an actually useful response. Details below the cut!

Read more... )


Jul. 30th, 2014 01:05 pm
kaberett: A drawing of a black woman holding her right hand, minus a ring finger, in front of her face. "Oh, that. I cut it  off." (molly - cut it off)
[personal profile] recessional on appearing high-functioning.

I've got a loosely-organised collection of around 10 people who remind me to do basic self-care, visit me so I have a reason to prepare food when my housemate's out, do the laundry, help make groceries happen, definitely who facilitate sleep, prompt me to do housework that makes me feel better (see yesterday's todo/tada), and so on, and so forth.

All of this is work. I am simultaneously much less and much more independently functional than I look.
kaberett: Stylized volcano against a stormy sky, with streams of lava running down its sides. (volcano)
... are pretty much all you're going to get me to talk about 'til Wednesay. *chinhands*

(Here is a thing: because I do the staggeringly stereotypical Thing where I find it quite hard to organise large volumes of complex information into a structure that makes sense to anyone who isn't me, Supervisor has me doing a series of writing exercises - 2 pages + a diagram on a topic relevant to my thesis, to potentially be eventually incorporated. First one due Weds; I requested it be on the thing I was already perseverating about, viz, mantle sulphides. So, er, now the first document I'm prepping as a thing I was already a bit scared of... is also an attempt to persuade my supervisor that there's mileage in this idea I've had, and she wants to go to the effort of sourcing me samples to actually do the reconnaisance study. You know I keep muttering about being stressed about work despite really enjoying it? Yeah.)
kaberett: Euphorbia cf. serrata, green crown of leaves/flowers central to image. (spurge)
Every time I hear about IfThisThenThat I get briefly excited; similarly with respect to [twitter.com profile] pjf's Exobrain... and then I remember that they work with computer-based events, not with, for what of better terminology, embodied events.

BeeMinder and HabitRPG to some extent try to do this: rewards for keeping up with "habit-forming" and "goals", with penalties for falling behind. Lots of other places do this kind of thing, too: Codecademy I stopped using at the point at which they presented you with a great big "you've coded X days in a row" wossname you couldn't get rid of; [personal profile] sophie wrote a Greasemonkey script to hide the equivalent on Github; and so on. The reason these fundamentally don't work for me is, of course, that I'm chronically ill in ways that mean (1) the model of "do the thing every day without fail" is frequently actively harmful to me, and (2) the incentives to modify behaviour this way often override my sense of self-preservation, such that I either do things I really shouldn't be, or I feel awful for not doing them.

RememberTheMilk also isn't right for me. SuperBetter is the closest thing I've met to what I need - repeating tasks to be done at one's own pace, accumulating points & levelling up & such for doing them, without negative effects for needing to take some damn time off.

This is the reality of my chronic illnesses: I stopped brushing my hair every day when my depression got proper bad back in 2011, and I haven't managed to restart. My hair is waist-length. Dealing with my hair when it has gone unbrushed for a week is unpleasant and time-consuming. Living with the sensory distress caused by my hair being a mess is unpleasant. And it is still sometimes the case that my decision-making ability is so fucked that I need to conserve it for more important things, like eating or doing my dayjob. (Much as one can have tea spoons and table spoons and dessert spoons, I find I have social spoons and walking spoons and decision-making spoons.) (There is a post I am going to write, one day, about intimacies: about what it means to me that That One Lady likes to brush my hair and I will let her; about what it means to me to glance up from across the room and realise That One Gent is casually using my wheelchair as a footrest. This is not that post.)

It does not just apply to hair, where the issues range from "motivation" to "energy" to "my hands are too fucked" (if I can do a limited number of tasks that require repetitive hand motions, brushing my teeth is higher up the list than brushing my hair). It covers everything: from getting out of bed to showering to physio to, as I say, eating regular meals.

And what none of these things I have mentioned actually do - a thing I really, really want - is externalise the decision-making, the executive-function, part of the process, to remove at least the entry-barrier of "I can't remember how to". Yes, it's possible to write up long-hand notes about how to brush my hair or have a shower and stick them up somewhere that I can see them - but that doesn't have the granularity I need. What I'd really, really like is something that'll prompt me:

--> get out of bed
--> you've got out of bed! great! Next: brush your teeth. (Tell Me More)
--> you've brushed your teeth! great! Next: have a shower. [Tell Me More]
---> turn the lights on
---> is there a towel in the bathroom? If yes, continue. If not, fetch one from bedroom.
---> make shower curtain be in the right place (Tell Me More)
---> get into bath
---> turn on water flow
---> etc etc etc.

I don't know of anything quite like this that exists - that does "if this, then that" for daily routines where the concept of "habit-building" is fundamentally incompatible with how some brains work (I can forget how to shower, okay, that is something I have done unsupervised most days for about 15 years). I don't know how I'd make this work with the tech I have; I suspect if I decide to write it I'll end up with a smart device of some description. I don't know quite how to deal with respectful reminders (i.e. things that won't just make me hide from the device) -- but damn if I could get that kind of care without having to take up another human's time and energy I'd be all over it.
kaberett: Euphorbia cf. serrata, green crown of leaves/flowers central to image. (spurge)
Time management for crips with executive dysfunction. Go.

(This brought to you by yet another late night of being desperately excited by my science and not wanting to go to sleep because I could be sciencing... in the middle of a sprint that's been brought on by executive dysfunction getting everywhere when I could've been working slow&steady if I had any sense of how to manage this.)
kaberett: Euphorbia cf. serrata, green crown of leaves/flowers central to image. (spurge)
Some of the ways in which I modify my behaviour, consciously or unconsciously, when around allistic folk:
  • I try to suppress stimming (flapping and rocking are most common for me)
  • I try to make people at least feel like I'm making eye contact (not an issue when they're talking because I'm lip-reading; more of an issue when I'm talking)
  • I reflect body language, accent and mode of communication (e.g. ask/offer)
  • I check in regularly about whether I am talking too much or too loudly, or being boring
  • I pay a great deal of conscious attention to reciprocity (if someone asks me how I am, and I reply in detail, then my assumption is that obviously this indicates interest and is an invitation to them to respond in kind; apparently that is not actually how allistic people work???)
  • I put effort into making sure I'm providing enough context/explanation, and making explicit trains of thought that produce apparent jumps in conversational topic
  • I have to think really quite hard about humour, and making humour identifiable
Probably more stuff, but that's what I've come up with over the course of this evening in conversation with t'housemate.
kaberett: Euphorbia cf. serrata, green crown of leaves/flowers central to image. (spurge)
This is something I have apparently spent a lot of time working on, just because it makes life easier. In a lot of ways it's a superset of other skills I've learned: sometimes more conscious - like when I deliberately switch into Posh White Lady mode - and sometimes it's completely automatic, like the way I codeswitch defensively (I tend to reflect the accent of whoever I'm talking to).

I chatted about this a few weeks ago with TOL - I'd sent an offer-culture-esque e-mail to the tune of "I'd still really like to see you but I know you've got a lot on your plate at the moment, so if e.g. x or y means you'd rather postpone that's fine", and she'd had to read it a couple of times to reassure herself that I wasn't trying to get her to cancel for me. We talked through ways to avoid hitting that particular miscommunication-in-potentia in future; I said I was happy to phrase such e-mails in whatever way worked best for her, because it was effort-neutral for me.

And then we clarified: it's actually that I'm already translating-to-allistic, and which variey-of-allistic I translate to ist mir egal; but not translating isn't any easier, because code-switching to "natural" speaking - with someone who doesn't ping me as autistic - is just as much effort as anything else.

And... that's the thing. There is such comfort in the ways that I can, with other autistic folk, frequently just... talk. Relax the monitoring and the double-checking against my learned scripts and just get on with it -- but so much of it is so automatic at this point that I don't notice I'm doing it until I'm... not. Which in turn makes it hard to pass on the skillset, because when the answer is "I have a checklist for how to handle a situation where someone has just received news of a bereavement and I follow it automatically" it can be... quite difficult even to expand what the checklist is, never mind help the other party absorb all the checklists for all the different possible situations to the extent that they come that automatically. (I have talked a little about how the intersection of autism + being an abuse survivor means I have very consciously learned to... interact in ways that look like "gaming people". It isn't actually that simple.)

I don't, I'm afraid, have any tidy conclusions; I just know that passing-for-allistic is at this stage something I do reflexively, except that when I'm triggered/exhausted/whatever I find it much, much harder to do the "basic" shit like reflecting the language and modes of communication other people are using with me, and I think that ties into being perceived as hostile/aggressive.

(In turn, I seriously need to work on the extent to which I freak out when people say that they're perceiving/experiencing me as same - I know why I freak, but it is a criticism I need to be able to hear. It's on the list for discussion with my counsellor next time I see them.)

I've watched people wince when I am Obviously Autistic In Public, because I'm exhausted or overwhelmed or whatever. And maybe that's actually the conclusion, I suppose: successfully passing for allistic takes energy, but is still less work than persuading people to interact with me in ways that are easier-for-me, at least for me, because of how long I've been learning this particular lesson. This is some of what I mean when I say I've "run out of people" or "am not fit for human company" - there's a bit of constructing-self-as-monster in there, on which topic I have a first draft of something that is approximately a prose poem - and some of why it hurts so much when I get told that I'm unfairly dictating modes of communication (through e.g. advocating active listening over formal debate in one-on-one informal interactions, to pick an actual example).

And on that note I shall sleep before I ramble more, I think.
kaberett: a watercolour painting of an oak leaf floating on calm water (leaf-on-water)
(This is tangentially relationship processing, but is part of a much broader pattern in how I interact with the world, hence not being cut.)

I appear to be quite bad at noticing that other people have needs up until I can't meet them. So I will meet requests without noticing they've been made (or possibly without their being made at all, because I try quite hard to respectfully anticipate -- offer culture, I suppose, and also I suppose part of my efforts to pass for allistic) and will tick along quite happily, only occasionally feeling guilty for not doing enough for other people.

And then I will slam head-first into a hard limit - an "I can see it would make your life easier and more pleasant if I could do this but I absolutely can't", and instead of trusting that response I try to second-guess my self into oblivion, eliding our shared history. (What does it say about me if I can't even give them this? It's the only thing they've ever asked me for! Surely I could manage if I weren't so selfish!)

This does us both disservice, and is I suspect at the root of my finding it very difficult to trust that people mean it when they say I have value to them.

eta obvs if you interact with me in ways that lead you to believe the above is complete bullshit, please do say, coz that's useful data too!
kaberett: Overlaid Mars & Venus symbols, with Swiss Army knife tools at other positions around the central circle. (Default)
I would feel better if I showered. I have spent half an hour, so far, sat at my desk unable to actually go shower. (I have, at least, brushed my hair and taken meds.) It will take me at least another half hour if I do decide to shower, even though actually showering will only take me five minutes. I could probably get dressed and out the door in that half hour if I decide not to shower.

And still I sit here stuck.

Brains, eh.
kaberett: a watercolour painting of an oak leaf floating on calm water (leaf-on-water)
I semi-regularly end up trying to infodump my (theoretical) approach to a first session with a new counsellor; I've been asked about this often enough that I'm going to try to make a summary here. (I say "theoretical" because in practice what actually happens is I forget everything I advise other people to do and mostly panic: I can easier teach twenty what were good to be done than be one of twenty to follow mine own teaching.)

From my perspective, the point of a first session is to establish whether I think I can work with the counsellor in question.

Read more... )

And so in summary, my checklist going into a first session is:
  • what's the edited-highlights-of-my-life I want to give this person?
  • am I comfortable with the ways they respond to them?
  • do they have minimum required knowledge such that I won't be spending so much time educating them that they should be paying me?
  • are they pathologising or fixating on things I don't want the focus to be on?
  • do I think I can be I comfortable in their space?
  • are we communicating adequately well, bearing in mind that we'll build on it?
  • is there enough flexibility in communication methods for me to cope?
  • am I responding well to the ways they choose to guide our discussion? Do they feel useful?

... all of which I expect to need to sit with and work out over the days following the session, but are roughly what I try to bear in mind going in, and are what I focus reflection on after the fact.

Next up: a slightly more formalised version of how I plan for sessions than the demonstration (under access lock, tag "counselling log") a few weeks back.


kaberett: Overlaid Mars & Venus symbols, with Swiss Army knife tools at other positions around the central circle. (Default)

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