Friday, June 24, 2011


Hi everyone,

I'm moving all of my content over to and will no longer be updating this blog. Please come visit my new website! (It's still in progress so please excuse the default everything.)


Saturday, June 11, 2011

Slightly controlled chaos

So I've been absent lately. Here's an update!

I am now wheat/gluten free. Ish. It's less of a bitch to do this in 2011 than it was in 1986-2000, because LO AND BEHOLD MAYBE WE SHOULD BE ALLERGEN-AWARE. Also, East Coast vs. Midwest culture sort of makes a difference. People here try on food fads like they do shoes. The Midwest...not so much. The Jell-O obsession never left.

Why? Because wheat has been making me sick. I've been generally feeling less than optimal for several months and I'm going through my allergens, one by one, to figure out how much of what, exactly, can I eat on a daily/weekly schedule. And learning what happens if I go overboard.

So far, not eating wheat has made the biggest difference. Testing corn will be difficult, as I already know that corn syrup makes me sick, so I can't test my corn tolerance via "corn sugar" or whatever the new fancy term is that the We <3 Corn advocacy group is parading around.

I don't know that I need to be gluten free - trace and even small amounts of wheat don't seem to bother me. Neither does 1 beer (haven't tested more than one at a time yet). I will get tested for celiac disease the next time I see a doctor for something other than a sinus infection, as well as ask for a full panel of allergen tests (prick tests, blood work, etc.)

Other news... ResNet is in 6 days...There was a bat in my kitchen this morning...I stuck my foot/shoe/bottom third of my pants into a bucket of glaze at the pottery studio today while trying to seal it...Didn't check the weather before leaving the house and had to borrow an umbrella from the CAW people...

Yeah, it's turning into an interesting Saturday. Now I'm going to have a beer, rinse out my jeans, do some laundry and work on setting up the new website.

Monday, May 16, 2011

I've loved and I've lost
I dreamed and I failed
We spun the dreams
On gossamer wings
And neglected essential details
And now that you're gone
And now that we're done
I'm left standing in the rubble
From the castle in the sky
Turns out the clouds are painful, crushing you if you can't fly
Fast and free
You flew without me
And that's the greatest hurt of all
That you just left me there alone
Never a second glance
We screwed up the second chance
The unexpected and unplanned, burning everything I loved
Because that's the way it always ends
With a fire in my soul
Tearing the yearnings of a young romantic girl
Who is tired of this fight
The endless quest for hope and love
Maybe that forever kind
And they tell me to wait
To be patient and true
"it will happen when it happens"
The damned consolation prize
Life is under scrutiny, can't measure up to size
I'm tired of failing
Weary of flailing
Flailing because of you

(There is a tune to this; very "into the woods"/"wicked"/"Sweeney Todd" sounding)

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Highly Sensitive

Something I've been doing the last couple of months is reading a lot about things that make us tick. Things that make ME tick. Yes, I'm still reading the odd potato chip for the mind (BFF Sarah's definition of romance novels and other drivel: "Sometimes, you just want a damn potato chip!"), but there's been a lot more of stuff about culture, relationships, feminism, psychology, and sociology. I've always been interested in the "why" and "how" of things, and so as I reassemble my personal life, I'm curious as to why it fell apart, and how I can prevent it and protect myself in the future. (No, I didn't have a complete nuclear meltdown, but it got icky and sticky and less than pleasant for a while.)

There are two books that I'm reading right now. One is a book on personalities within the structure of pyschology, and speaks to the theory of Highly Sensitive Personalities/People, and that's the one we're going to talk about today.

From the research that has been done on personalities, it looks like about 20% of the population (at least in the US) identify and test as being more sensitive than other. Sensitivity can be anything from a dislike of loud situations to taking criticism badly to immune issues. Usually it's a combination of sensitivities. Looking back on my childhood (or what I remember of it, because apparently I've blocked off large sections of it because I was so miserable), a lot of my problems were things that are better understood now as learning differences, food sensitivities, and possibly a suppressed immune system. HSPs are generally folks who react very strongly to certain stimuli (usually in a negative manner) and prefer things like routine, structure, and familiar settings to get through a day.

I can particularly identify with the aspects about food sensitivities, preferring a quiet atmosphere and having down time to myself. Growing up with severe food allergies that affected me primarily through brain chemistry (mood swings, headaches, migraines, extreme irrationality and irritability) makes slightly more sense now. I physically cannot be around loud noises too long, or I will become physically ill (nausea, migraine, dizziness, disorientation, and faintness are all common symptoms for me). And if I have to interact with too many people for too long of a time, I become agitated and usually develop a migraine. There's a reason I disappear for a while during family gatherings - I'm preventing myself from getting sick.

I really hate going into unfamiliar situations with no preparation. First days of anything are always a nightmare waiting to happen for me, emotionally. I usually stay quiet, preferring to watch and observe in a corner than throw myself into anything. I'm better at conquering that dislike now than I was as a kid, but it's still hard. There's this overwhelming sense of not wanting to be center stage all by myself (hence my love of choirs and not solos...), of not wanting to be noticed until I am more sure of the heirarchies and relationships that are going on around me. I fear in childhood that's what got me noticed more than anything - I was the one that didn't want to interact with people, and was weird because of it.

Conquering that sense of weirdness and awkwardness - that I don't truly fit in - is difficult. Supposedly this is a very common issue for HSPs. We don't fit the norm, but we're not different enough to be considered "cool," a la Lady Gaga. We're outliers, balanced on not really feeling as if we belong anywhere, and retreating into ourselves (or a hobby, or work, or something) as a way of protecting ourselves. In today's society, I can minimize interactions with the handy invention known as "The Headphones." I'm not anti-social, I've just got my music going and it's not cool to disturb music-going-people unless it's really important. I've lost track of how many times I've stuck my earbuds in just to avoid conversations on airplanes, busses, airports, car rides, walking around town or at work. It's a handy trick that enables me. Do I care? A bit. Will I stop? Probably not. The ability to watch and not be pointed out as a watcher is awesome.

How do you explain to people that you're different and that your different-ness is valid and should be respected and that you're not weird, you just can't handle certain stimuli? I'm not sure what the answer is, really. I've not finished the book, so I'll get to that part when I get there. From a personal standpoint, I think that confidence and self-assurance is key, and guarding your reasons is (unfortunately) a lesson that I've learned - just say "no thanks" and leave it at that. Learning to not get upset or defensive when people don't believe you in helpful, too. I don't have enough fingers and toes to count the number of times that I've felt frustrated because someone didn't understand why I wasn't going to eat some food or go to a loud environment. Acceptance is not easy for most people, especially when it comes to experiential issues. "What?! It's "so and so" live! You love them! Everyone loves them!" The subtext being "What is wrong with you that you can't enjoy this thing that everyone else does?" Yeah, I love Linkin Park, and seeing Lady Gaga in concert would be really cool, but neither of those things are ever going to happen because I will, without the shadow of a doubt, end up miserable, sick and hating whomever it is that dragged me in. When I landed free tickets to a Black Eyed Peas concert last year, I made sure to buy earplugs on the way to the concert because I knew that would be the ONLY chance I had to survive. My body was still vibrating afterwards, and not in that fun energy-of-the-crowd way. It was more of a oh-dear-god-do-we-not-know-how-to-balance-the-bass-and-have-these-people-never-heard-of-the-concept-of-overkill? sort of feeling. In my BONES. We left the concert early. 

Something that I've been dealing with in introspection and conversations with my therapist is how being an HSP influences my reactions. Overall, I tend to take a lot of things personally, even when they aren't meant as such. I feel that criticisms of anything I'm involved in are critiques of me and get out of whack. We're also talking about how this has influence my reactions to all of the crap that I was dealt in November, and the less-than-optimal things that seem to keep stacking up against me. I don't entirely understand myself yet, and I don't think that I'm going to "fix" my reactions anytime soon. But it is nice to delve into and sort out WHY I have reactions and learn to better cope with the emotions that accompany Big Life Issues. Like deaths and breakups and friendships ending and relationships of many sorts.

I'm working on accepting my limitations, and having more patience with myself when I start to feel or think that these limitations are negatively impacting me. It's not my fault. It's no one's fault. It's hard, nor is it fair, to lay blame at the feet of any one person because they cannot deal with certain things. Just as we all have some food that we will not consume, for any reason other than pure starvation. (For me, that would be bugs. Things with tentacles run a very, very close second.) My mother can't drink because it makes her sick. There is no blame, there is no fault. There is simple fact and there is human dignity. It is my right to refuse things if it helps maintain my dignity, which is much easier to do if I'm not begging for someone to put a bullet through my eye because it's burning from the migraine.

Most HSPs, by the time they figure out their coping mechanisms, are in their 20s and 30s. Living as adults, fending for yourself, you learn where your boundaries are and how to accommodate yourself. Part of my accommodations include retreating to a quiet place when I start to feel overwhelmed, keeping migraine meds on hand at all times, and forcing myself through relaxation exercises when the going gets really bad. I just wish I didn't feel like I needed to do the relaxation stuff so often right now...

Friday, April 29, 2011

The Brain Hive Inside Me

A thousand swirling twirling whirling thoughts are in my mind
The rapid planning, goals I'm manning, taking up my time
There's things to do and meetings too and don't forget the donuts
Where's the dog must beat the fog am I actually a grownup?
Days to plan and nights to cook and things are needing buying
Get to work and clean that shirt, house chores are multiplying

My brain is stuck in third gear as we hurtle down the highway
RPMs too high for safety, making burnout rather likely
But I can't stop, can't find the clutch and gear shift in my head
Don't know how to shut up, be myself, or even who I am
There's so much I want to see and do and maybe if I plan it
I'll have it all and be the best, with time to organize the planet

The schedule tells me I'm off track; I don't know what to do
Where do I turn, my brain it burns, cant seem to think it through
The madness grows and grabs my toes, sucking my soul in
Deadlines to meet, bosses to greet, my interest waning thin
I'm start to lose it bruise it fuse it then the music changes
From symphony to screeching frenzied damned angry violins

This is what my life is, here’s a window to my head
You don’t have to like it or even understand
But any chance of getting me means accepting who I am

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Future Reference

Sometimes, writing is the best therapy for me.

In the coming weeks, I'm probably going to be writing about a lot of stuff that's deeply personal. Not like a list of my sexual partners or anything obscene, obviously, but a lot of stuff that I'm still figuring out in therapy and in my head.

I need you, my readers, to remember a few things as these things come forward.

First and foremost, these are my opinions, my memories and my thoughts. They are not perfect. They are flawed and skewed; filtered through the foggy lens of childhood; aged and cracked with time. They will not be rational, they may not make sense, and if you were there for some of them, you may not agree with my interpretation. All of our memories and interpretations are fallible, yours and mine.

But they are real, for me. What happened, what I felt in my moments of memory, they are as real as anyone's memories of the past. They are valid. And they are mine. I make no apology for my thoughts. They are what they are, and nothing can change the way I have felt about certain things, especially when those feelings are associated with memories and idea who define who I am today.

I am sorry if some of these things upset you. (This is particularly aimed at my parents.) What happened, happened, and now I must shake off the mantle of the dusty past in order to claim my bright and shiny future. I cannot move ahead without confronting the demons that exist. Because we all have demons. Most of mine come in two forms: a childhood of being different and an adulthood of constant responsibility.

I am not crying for pity. I do not write for attention, nor pats on the head (which is damnably condescending, anyways, and I'll kick your condescending ass before I let you pat me on the head). I write for release. There will be drafts that don't see the light of the Internet. There will be things that I say that might make you think me stupid and insecure. But I can't let your opinions of me rule my life.

Today, I claim my birthright. I claim myself.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Reading in the 21st Century

I am a child of the Millennial generation. I have seen the invention of reading tablets, tiny laptops that weigh but a few pounds, phones that are computers, capacitive touch screens, harddrives that don't need to spin up or down and external 1 terabyte harddrives that cost $70 (and I bought a 2TB external for $100. I have NO IDEA what I'm going to do with 2TB of storage, but I have it). Technology isn't prevalent. It is rampant.

Part of why I love doing what I do is because I get to play with new toys and ideas (usually on Mommy Yale's dime). About a year and a half ago my previous dept. got a Kindle to play with, and started off my love affair with e-readers. I eventually had to give it back as I moved depts, but I recently bought my own Kindle 3 in a silent auction benefiting my choir. I love the Kindle 3 just as much as I loved the Kindle 2 (plus it's lighter, which is nice). I have Calibre so that I can put my own books on it (and convert them as needed) and I have friends who I exchange files with. I haven't really tried the loaning feature yet, but we'll get there.

Something I don't understand, though, is how and why I can buy a physical book for less money than I can a digital book. Yes, there are licensing fees; of course. But when I can buy a used hardback edition of Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters for a penny + $3.99 shipping (yes, you read that right, a PENNY) while the digital version is $17, I take issue with it.

It's not that I don't want to pay for content. I just don't like paying more for content than I have to. Why should I pay $17 for a digital version when I can pay $4 for a hardcover book? Digital is the future, obviously. But my generation knows how to comparison shop. Amazon sort of just bit itself in that aspect: the hardcover book I bought was through one of their resellers.

I also am frustrated when there are books I want to read that aren't available in a digital format. I'll pay for the damn book; just release it to us! Certain books, like my crochet books, I don't want on the Kindle. I want nice big pages with color illustrations for those. But things like Harry Potter? Kindle. Please. (I do have a digital Harry Potter; I just used that as an example.)

While nothing can compare with the tactile experience of a book (am I a kinesthetic learner, so I definitely appreciate that), I have to appreciate the fact that I don't have to carry around several books at once. I remember carting around POUNDS and POUNDS of text books in high school and college, and thinking "OH DEAR HEAVENS I AM GOING TO DIE" at least once from the weight. How much does the average e-reader weigh? 8-10 ounces? Yeahhhhh... that's a huge difference.

I hope that schools get on the e-reader bandwagon. Reading all of my HUST books on a e-reader would have been SOOOOO helpful, especially now that you can do things like share comments and highlighted portions these days. It would have made citation a pain in the ass, but I have a feeling that eventually that will be addressed by the MLA, the Chicago Style people and both the APAs.

To the naysayers and people freaking out about the demise of the bookstore, I'd like to point out that history is full of these things. Let's look at the horse and cart, for example. People freaked out that cars were coming in, and protesting, and angry. And now we have an estimated 600 million cars on the road, world wide. Progress is going to keep marching on, and we have two choices: make it work for us or get left shaking our fists in its wake (and then you get people/characters like Umbridge who spout off gems like "progress for progress' sake," which was a delightful commentary by Rowling on the conservative agenda sweeping many of the political bodies across the globe, in my opinion).