Archive for category It's All About Me!
We’ve basically had non-winter in the DC area this year. Today, it is snowing. And not just a few flurries, not just a pathetic little slurry on the ground, I mean there is major accumulation and it’s still coming down. All that, and I am still at work.
This reminds me of an experience I had in teaching a class during my second year in the Peace Corps. I had this one class of seniors which proved that small classes do not always mean an easier teaching experience. There were a few good students and several shitty students, and the group overall was mainly just counting the days until they graduated. I had this one girl in the class, who was firmly in the camp of “shitty students.” We’ll call her Aria. My entire second year was an exercise in struggling, vainly, to get my students (all the students, not just the one class) to buy their textbooks, or at least get pages photocopied from the few of their classmates who had bought their textbooks. If you’re thinking I must have had an awfully difficult time teaching ANYTHING AT ALL to these kids if they didn’t even have textbooks, why, you’d be right!
Anyway, one day I was teaching the small apathetic class of seniors, and I decided that I would write the lesson’s vocabulary on the blackboard and let them copy it before moving on to an exercise that actually required them to use brain cells. That’s it: I wrote a bunch of English words on the blackboard and told the students to write the words in their notebooks. No translating. No grammar. Just some new words.
Most of my students got right to it. A few of them just sat there and acted like they usually did, e.g., like they would rather die than learn anything from a 20-something foreigner. So I kept telling them, look, just copy down these words before we move on with the lesson! Slowly, even the most jaded students took down the vocabulary.
Except Aria. Just sat there and giggled at…nothing. It wasn’t just that day; giggling at nothing in particular was what she did in my class, when she wasn’t yelling out the window at her friends in the courtyard. (In my less charitable moments, I assume she was laughing at me for being stupid enough to set foot in her school.) Anyway, even while her friends finally got around to the simple matter in front of them, Aria was still sitting around and wasting time, so I figured she just wasn’t going to do it, and I began to erase the vocabulary words from the board so that I could write out the next part of the lesson.
And that is when Aria stood up and said the Albanian equivalent of, “But, teacher, I didn’t get a chance to write down the words!”
The less said about what happened after that, the better. Let’s just say the lesson was fortunately at the end of the day, so I was able to go home and get drunk.
The point is that this weather reminds me of Aria during that lesson. It’s almost like it’s actively trying to prevent you from getting on with your business.
While you all were watching the Oscars last night, I was attempting to force Fractal Architect into submission. The point of contention was in the Final Transform settings. I was trying to recreate this fierce cave-like shape I’d somehow achieved before, and eventually, I succeeded.
Since it appears that the 2013 Oscars were an occasion for Seth MacFarlane to confuse his white male heterosexual privilege with a sense of humor and broadcast it on national television, I think my evening was better spent.
The fractal effect in question is potential book cover material, so I won’t put it on display here just yet. HOWEVER, if you’re a new Fractal Architect (or Serendipity) user, I suggest you go into Final Transform and find the following shapes: bubble, butterfly, cross, loonie and scry. Apply them in different combinations. See what comes out.
I think this self-explanatory.
All that, and I’ve been totally sober all day.
Never mind. The issue was confusion from Amazon’s notification system. I got the parcel today.
I still haven’t forgiven UPS for failing to deliver my mom’s birthday present last year.
My apartment building is not very well equipped to deal with cold weather, and these inadequacies are taking up my not-abundant spare time.
1. The apartment is super-cold in the morning when I wake up, which means it takes me an extra-long time to wake up. When getting out of bed means feeling the winter air through your pajamas, your body sends that signal to the brain that of course you’ll be much better off if you just get five more minutes of sleep. I’m frequently late to work this winter because I keep missing the bus.
(And if you think I should get around that by running the heaters all night long: no. Even putting aside the electric bill, the situation would be untenable. On most nights, when the weather isn’t super-cold, running the heater for more than a couple hours at a time makes the room too hot. In order to sleep, I must turn off the heater.)
2. However, when the weather is super-cold, it takes hours for the heater to get the room even acceptably warm. My feet get cold very easily, and when my feet are cold, I am uncomfortable and cannot concentrate on doing something other than getting my feet warmed up. Ergo, I got nothing done yesterday evening when we had cold rain. In order to work on a book, or do anything creative, I need to be comfortable.
3. If you’re thinking I should “just” warm up by taking a hot bath, that’s another problem. The water pipes struggle to warm up, and there isn’t adequate hot water to take a shower. The water takes a long time to warm up (running purely from the hot tap) and goes cold again in only a few minutes. This means I waste a lot of time and water to run enough for a warm bath. It doesn’t help that there is no heat in the bathroom, so it takes a certain amount of hot water just to neutralize the coldness of the porcelain. There’s a little baseboard heater that keeps the towels warm and dry, which helps a little once I’m out, but meanwhile the walls are sending my body heat outside.
There’s at least one family in my building with small children. How do you get small children to take baths in these conditions? I sure wouldn’t have cooperated with such an ordeal when I was little.
It’s also chilly here at the workplace. I have a heating pad for my feet, but my hands are not enjoying the climate.
Thank goodness I live in a sufficiently inland area that I don’t have to worry about any major bodies of water invading my mass transit system’s personal space.
*takes a moment to gape in horror at the state of NYC and coastal NJ*
However, the DC Metro system was shut down from Monday morning to Tuesday afternoon, so I wouldn’t have been able to go to work even if the office had opened, which it did not.
My neighborhood weathered the storm extraordinarily well. I don’t know what PEPCO did for us specifically, but damn, they kept us in good shape. My building never lost power. We had a few flickers, but the lights never went out. I had all this food stored up, and I was going through the stuff that needed to be cooked, assuming that we’d soon be in the dark and I’d switch to the refrigerator, and then it was Tuesday, the power was still on and I had all these Starbucks lattes waiting in the fridge, but I could have made espresso if I’d been so inclined.
The only problem I had in terms of preparation was that I discovered only on Sunday, when the weather was starting to get ugly, that I couldn’t find my umbrella. If not for that, I could’ve gone to visit my family, move my car, see if the local cafe was open, on Tuesday when it was still rainy and cold but no longer dangerous.
Meanwhile, my friends were going without power for hours at a time, and pumping the water out of their basements, and sleeping in their basements to avoid the risk of falling trees, and I was sitting there all snug in my spartan but totally dry little nest.
I don’t feel smug about this. I feel sort of guilty for not having invited anyone to crash with me. Even if we’d lost power, we would’ve been safe, dry and with plenty of fridge space.
Zinnia Jones has a great new post up about her son’s struggles with ADHD:
We waited for as long as possible before looking into medication for our son. We explored every other option that was available to us. He had a specialized plan at school and extra tutoring, and he still does. We worked closely with him every day to help him understand his work, and we gave him extra practice in every subject. And it wasn’t enough.
The moral of the story is that sometimes, counseling, special attention and structure get the job done, but sometimes, you need DRUGS.
I was born in 1980. When I was a kid, ADD/ADHD were not really part of the cultural discourse the way they are now. We children joked about how some kids were “hyper,” but we didn’t recognize it as a brain issue that could be addressed with medication. The idea of attention span issues without hyperactivity never crossed our minds, because the adults around us never brought it up, either. I didn’t even know ADHD was a thing until I was at least 16, and where I first learned about it, I am not joking, was in an X-Men fanfic. By then I was an excellent student, but this fanfic writer was telling me things about learning and behavioral issues that I wasn’t getting from my teachers. I wasn’t aware of ADD (inattentive, rather than hyperactive) until I was closer to 20, but by then, it was more of something that people actually talked about.
I wasn’t nearly as badly off as Zinnia and Heather’s son; for example, I responded well to tutoring and subsequently became an excellent reader, and I didn’t have behavior problems. While hyperactive kids can’t sit still, I was too good at sitting still. I was a chronically daydream-laden space cadet for most of my childhood. (Imagine that: a little girl who was always daydreaming grew up to be a novelist.) I wasn’t labeled with attention deficiency, or inattentiveness. I was called lazy, unmotivated, with lousy work habits.
It’s awfully difficult to stay motivated when focusing on simple tasks requires heroic effort.
I know some people around my age who were actually diagnosed and medicated for attention deficiency issues when they were kids, but since I sat nicely in my seat and did well on tests, my teachers never considered that maybe I found it difficult to focus in ways that most children didn’t.
By my teenage years, I learned how to do a good impression of a focused student, and in my early adulthood, I started thinking that ADD would explain a lot about me. By then, however, I’d finished college at 21 and was living like a responsible, tax-paying adult. It didn’t seem that a diagnosis or medication would help me accomplish anything at that point.
However, when I get depressed, my attention deficit symptoms get especially bad. When I am both inattentive and depressed, I have difficulties that affect the people around me. Sometimes those difficulties accumulate over time and eventually come to a head.
I just turned 32, and I still don’t know how I’d function on ADD meds, but I’m taking an anti-depressant that makes me more alert, so it helps somewhat with the attention issues. When it became obvious that Something Was Definitely Wrong With Me, I didn’t go straight for the meds. I saw a counselor, I tried drinking less, I tried eating healthier, I tried going to bed earlier, and you know what happened? Eating healthy food is a good thing, but it didn’t make me feel happier or more focused. Drinking less, also, made no difference. Sometimes I drink plenty and feel shitty, sometimes I drink very little and feel great, but sometimes I drink very little or not at all and still feel like crap, and sometimes I drink plenty and feel awesome the next day. Seeing the counselor helped some, but she also pointed out that it was almost certain that I had ADD, and she urged me to think very seriously about taking meds.
That much should tell us something: a social worker, who is involved in providing mental health services of a non-pharmacological nature, noticed that my difficulties were in the attention-span area, and advised me to consider medication.
When I visited the doctor’s office for an assessment of my brain-chemistry issues, the nurse practitioner put me on an anti-depressant first. Since I’ve experienced the side effects of beginning the anti-depressant, I can see why starting more than one psychotropic drug at a time would be inadvisable. (In case anyone’s wondering: the side effects were not dangerous, but they made me feel like I was about to develop super-powers that I’d be unable to control. Any further tinkering with my brain chemistry would have been a bad idea.) She also ordered some blood work in case I had any nutritional deficiencies that affected my mood, and so far I haven’t heard back about the blood work, but the medication makes me feel better. It’s not a magic bullet, but it definitely helps. Adjusting my diet, drinking habits and sleep habits didn’t help. The medication is the first thing to have a noticeable effect.
So, if you’re wondering why I haven’t posted Sunday Storytime in several weeks, the answer is very prosaic: I’ve been depressed for months, and so I’ve found it extraordinarily difficult to write anything. I feel somewhat better now, and I’ve written more recently, so things are looking up. Moreover, they’re not looking up because I’m eating more vegetables or abstaining from refined sugar. I’m feeling better because of DRUGS.
October 10th marks the anniversary of the day that the Monster made the transition from “stubborn breech fetal Monster” to “squirming, colicky Monster.” It is almost the first anniversary of the day(s) that I first published Charlinder’s Walk, but it is still the first birthday for me since I’ve had a book to show off. So! If you enjoy my blog, and you want to wish me Happy Birthday?
(No, I’m not going to ask you to buy my book. Unless it looks like something you’d enjoy!)
You can TELL YOUR FRIENDS about my book!
Help a Monster out on her birthday, and share one (or more) of these links!
And just for good measure, here’s the cover:
I really don’t mean to be unsympathetic, I’m aware of her health struggles and how the new baby is great news for the family, but that still leaves the question of why it’s all over the Internet today. How did this Giuliana Rancic person become someone whose family-building adventures I’m supposed to care about?
Of course they do good work, and I suppose I should be grateful that I’m allowed to donate blood, but I’ll tell you what: it would be really nice if American Red Cross would quit calling me to ask me to make appointments to donate.
I don’t know how many times I’ve already told them that I will not drive out to Rockville on a Saturday, because I’ve already been turned away once due to low iron, and I will not repeat the experience of having to drive on the Beltway up to Montgomery County (aka MoCo) and back for no reason.
I know I’ve already told them at least once, probably twice, that I cannot make an appointment during the workweek unless the blood drive is in my work neighborhood, because, again: I will not miss work and risk getting turned away.
Finally, I’ve decided that it isn’t in my interest to make an appointment for a blood drive even if it’s convenient, because the last time I made an appointment, they kept me waiting about 40 minutes past my time to donate. Why, you ask? Because they got a late start and were backed up. IOW: I made an appointment, got there on time, and still had to wait just as long as everyone else because folks were disorganized. The lesson I learned was that I might as well just walk in any old time, because I’m going to wait around either way.
I’m a “once bit, forever shy” type of person.
I’ve told them all this, and yet…they keep calling my phone to tell me about all the blood drives coming up (none of which are convenient for me), or ask me to come up to the Donation Center in Rockville (…), like there’s nothing the least bit inconvenient with any of these options.
These all sound like minor inconveniences, and admittedly, having to wait past my appointment time is more of a “My towering ego, let me show you it!” issue, but notice that we’re talking about something in which I get nothing but attention. They want my blood. They want me to make sure I’m well-nourished, hydrated and sober at the time of donation, and then they want me to spend the rest of the day drinking water and taking it easy. I don’t think it’s too much to ask that the donation process fit easily into my schedule.