Thursday, December 04, 2014

Murphy is alive and well and futzing with my karma

Oh no. There is no way I'm getting three thousand words today. In fact, today is almost over and I haven't even gotten started.

A lot happened today. My family happened today. That usual happens - I'm living with a brother, a husband, and the Banshees, after all - but very rarely do I have most of them happen all at once.

Oh boy, did they ever. 

By the time the spouse came home I was in total suspension of all stress just due to overwhelming flipping disbelief. We're talking darn near to bemused giggles.

My park day peoples did yeoman's work in keeping me sane today. Many thanks to those who are doing their part in keeping me out of the omg 114 pt headlines. 

My spouse basically handed the keys to his car over and suggested I get a soda or something. I got a soda and some ice cream.

Because my MB ate my ice cream. 

Ate my ice cream.

Ate my ice cream.

The home made double vanilla ice cream with real cream and real ice that I made myself for my birthday.


Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Day 2, Round 2

Okay, the hair still isn't brushed - it's time to get it cut again, obviously - but the bed is made and that makes me feel one thousand percent better, and the coffee has cream in it, a bad habit I'm going to have to break if I want to be healthier someday. But it's a start. Tea is on the boil - Orange Spice black tea, by Stash. Too much coffee in too short a period of time gets me buzzing too hard to be productive and that's what my budding new writing habit it all about: Getting Productive.

Getting around to it, yet again.

Did I mention that I have a cart-and-horse problem?

I've gotten all sorts of items and made all sorts of lists, just to see things gather rust or rot away because I didn't get the infrastructure in place first. I just went for the fun stuff, failing to see that the fun stuff can't happen if the infrastructure hasn't been built first, or I started in the wrong place and built the wrong infrastructure (Hello. Do I really need several different blogs and zillions of emails and a business address before I even have a business?). We're talking decades of low-level frustration before the actual pattern became too clear to ignore any longer.

I live in my head far too much, dreaming of a day when some vague requirement is fulfilled and all of what I want is magically available. Well. I'd say I've been a long time in waking up.

The 3K-A_Day challenge isn't really the start of something, nor is it an ending to something. It's a goal on the way to other goals. It's a step, the start of a ritual and a routine.

A few months ago I started wondering if my middle child might have some sort of ADD. No, he's not hyperactive. He is energetic but hyperactive is an adjective that implies an extra, perhaps even manic, activity that is not containable by mere mortal parents. MB is containable. He's exhausting, but not unduly so. However, he can't concentrate when he needs to. I've been reassured by every non-medical person I've run across that MB is just being All Boy, and I Was That Way At His Age, and this is Completely  Normal.

Ah. No. Well, all of the above statements may very well be true, but they also don't preclude the possibility that MB is having problems concentrating and retaining important knowledge, thereby limiting his ability to process information and to formulate appropriate plans and strategies. I know that sounds like a lot of edu-speak or possibly therapy-speak, but I'm not really sure how to put it any other way. In short, we've had one too many conversations where I ask him to do A but B gets done instead because he's listening too fast to actually hear what I'm talking about. I'd estimate he hears three or four words and then extrapolates the rest. ("I need the blue bowl with the veggies" translates somehow into "Give her the red bowl with the fruit" because he heard "bowl" and "edible matter" and not a whole heck of lot else.)

So I started a little light research on ADD. I'm not a doctor, I don't play one on television, and I'm not going to go into a doctor's office and tell her what her job is. I'm also not above getting a little information and asking if this covers what's going on, and if not, why not. I like research. It's relaxing. It's fun. And I learn new things. What isn't to like? What I learned was 1. Evidently there isn't any such thing as just plain ADD anymore. They've lumped it in entirely with ADHD and then subtracted the Hyperactive part. Okay. Interesting. I may think that's odd but I accept that this is part of my search criteria now. 2. It's quite possible that MB does have some form of it. When I found sites that had little checklists I started checking them. I checked quite a few little boxes. On the bright side, if the child does have ADD, it's a borderline, high-functioning sort. Yayy! Good news! It doesn't look likely that we'll need drug therapy for this! (I'm not against therapeutic drug use, mind you, I just like using the least invasive techniques first when possible.) And 3. This SO explains my junior high and high school years.

So many things went into making my jr. high and high school experience awful. Puberty is one of the usual suspects, of course, and there's the feral atmosphere of junior high to begin with. There is a whole laundry list of events that just made everything into a sort of perfect hellstorm. In no particular order:

The difference between elementary and junior high/high school.

In elementary there was little homework and I only had three different classrooms to deal with by the end of 6th grade. Beginning with junior high I had six to seven different classrooms, each with its own teacher and set of homework expectations. Each teacher only assigned an hour or two of homework - maybe a little less, maybe a little more here and there - but multiply that by the amount of classes I was attending and it gets a little daunting even more than 3 decades removed. I'd say a lot of people manage that divide without too much difficulty, but for me it became insurmountable.

The difference between the elementary years and junior high and high school marked a divide in how I was raised, as well. My Dad was a construction worker and a good one, making good money, but when the economy freezes up fewer jobs means fewer paychecks. So Mom went back to work and began to finish up the college work she'd been putting time into since I was knee-high to a grasshopper. Full time work and part time college meant that nobody was making sure I was doing my homework any more. So I didn't do my homework anymore.

My parents could never figure out why. Or, rather, they were partly right and partly wrong and I didn't have the vocabulary to explain to them what was going in between my ears to help them help me succeed. As nobody is ever told what might have been, we're left with an intriguing thought problem. I could still have been a problem child even if they knew what I needed and how to give it to me. Or I might not have been. We're never going to know the difference at this great remove.

Whatever the issue, I proceeded to drive everybody dealing with me absolutely batty with my perceived intransigence. I heard the "You're a genius, why aren't you doing the work?" speech more often than I can remember. It's etched into my DNA at this point.

I couldn't tell you then. I have a better idea now.

One of the reasons I flubbed up and flubbed badly is that I had no sense of time, and no idea whatsoever on how to manage it. This is something my mother could never get her head around. She was born with a sense of time. She managed her own wonderfully well. However, she was completely lacking in any sort of empathy - I'm not saying she was a sociopath, as she had most normal emotions - it's just that she lacked empathy, of being able to put herself in somebody else's shoes and understand that someone else might not see the world the way that she did. If she saw the world a certain way, then that was the way the rest of the world saw it as well. It was impossible to tell her otherwise. You might as well have been telling a person born without arms what they felt like to operate. So if my Mom understood something, as far as she was concerned everybody else understood it as well. If they operated contrary to that understanding, then they were doing so deliberately for their own incomprehensible reasons, although Mom usually thought it was because they were trying to annoy her. I didn't know what I was doing, so I couldn't explain it. Mom thought I knew exactly what I was doing for a purpose she couldn't understand. Yeah, this went about as well as anybody could expect.

Dad, I think, probably could have figured it out eventually. He had a better grasp of what was going on than Mom did, certainly. But he also came from an era and a culture where Mom raised the kids and Dad was there for backup. Also, and nearly certainly because of his own personality and the marital dynamics, he gave in to Mom a lot more than he should have. Right? Wrong? I have no real blame for either of them. They did the best they could with the cards they were played.

Another reason I didn't succeed despite being very intelligent, is that in some subjects I just could not concentrate. I tried. I was being told by everybody around me that I could understand the material if I wanted to, and that it was just a matter of my intransigence that I wasn't getting good grades. So when I was sent to my room to work on my homework, I would try. My eyes would slide off the page, though. I couldn't keep them on the work at hand. I would yank them back to the problem again and again and again and I still couldn't make sense of what was in front of me, and I couldn't concentrate on it, and my eyes would slide from the work at hand to the edge of the page over and over and over again. And then I would give up. It is a feeling of despair that I cannot begin to describe. I was told over and over again that it was my fault that I wasn't doing better in school, so therefore it had to be my fault that I couldn't keep my attention on the task at hand. I internalized that I was broken. I had to be. Everybody knew that if I was just notbroken everything would be all right, but I couldn't make myself notbroken. Everybody told me I could and they had to be right, so if I was broken then it had to be my fault. I'm a failure, always, and in everything, and nothing will ever change that. I will never be notbroken.

To wrap up this particular monologue while pledging to continue it another day, I think I may very well have an undiagnosed case of ADD and these are my reasons why. I can concentrate, but under some circumstances I'm simply unable to. And even under the best of circumstances I get distracted very, very easily. This describes MB with his hear the gist and guess the rest pretty well. I do not every want MB to think he is broken. He isn't. It's just that he - and I - need a different approach. It can't be assumed that we know how to manage time. That's like asking us to operate with a rule book that everybody else has memorized but that we have never received, much less read. (It feels that way sometimes. It really, really does.)

So, no matter whether we're high functioning ADD or there is something else going on in between our ears, some of the initial steps to cope seem to be the same. Set up ritual. Set up routine. Set up the rules of the road that work for us, even if it isn't the same rule book that the rest of the world seems to understand so easily. Modify ourselves and our environment so we can achieve the goals we want to achieve. I am under no illusion that this is going to be easy. I have a lot of damage I have to undo or learn how to cope with before I can be the role model he needs. I've spent all of his life telling him to do something but never demonstrating how to do it. I'm learning how.

My steps? I'm still working on what they should be even as I'm trying to walk through them. But a few non-concrete thoughts: Something tangible. Every day. How is anybody going to learn a routine if the main operator in the household hasn't established one? 3K A Day is one of my tangibles. If I want to be a writer, then I just plain need to be a writer. Every day, unless that day involves recovering from major trauma of some sort. Making my bed every day is a tangible. The coffee. Breakfast. Between the beginning of this post and this point I got my hair brushed, two cups of tea, and pruned a mad mutant ollalieberry back to some semblance of sanity.

Set goals.

Do Them.

Live by the codes of Sam Vimes and Jenny Waynest.

Don't skip something important even for a good reason, because you'll eventually start skipping it for bad reasons.

To do something, you must do it. The reasons for the action are everything, just as sometimes the small steps getting there are the most important ones of all.

Day Two, In Which I Confess Failure And Why I'm Happy With It

I think I made it through maybe 1100 words yesterday in my quest for a 3k day, and I'm perfectly content. Or perhaps I should say, I'm happy with the beginning and confident I'll do more when I'm comfortably settled into my routine. 

I will also point out, for reference to my future self in re-reading these chronicles, that yesterday I was operating on very little sleep, which always makes me a little loopy and distractable. My increasing age probably has something to do with that as well. Be that as it may, I'm still up for the the 3k A Day self-challenge, even when I fall short, way way short, of the goal. Because I'm putting my rump in a seat and my fingers to the keyboard and generating something. Cohesiveness, it may be hoped, will follow as I get back into the swing of things.

I'm returning to the blog later on today, but right now I have to make my bed, brush my hair, and put some creamer into my rapidly cooling coffee. (C is for Coffee, that's good enough for me!!)

Because I operate better with a made bed, brushed hair, and three quarts of coffee (creamed or not). That's why.

One ritual at a time

One routine at a time.

One subroutine at a time.

I'm getting there, one millimeter at a time.

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

The 3K A Day Challenge

I just completely and almost totally flubbed NaNoWriMo '14, which is annoying but did get me to think. Thinking is one of those dangerous pastimes I occasionally indulge in without disastrous results. The thinking I've been doing is sort of an extension of thinking I've been doing on and off again for the last several months, possibly even a little more than a year. The thought has been a variation of it's time to get on with it. Not always in those words but somehow always with that sort of feeling behind it.

The Banshees are all in adolescence at one stage or another. Which means that I don't have to worry about them burning the house down if I'm not in the immediate vicinity, at least most of the time, and they know to come to me if one of their siblings is contemplating something that would involve insurance companies and fire departments at some point. All well and good. Their education is a frightful mishmash and I'm going to worry about whether or not I've done enough until the cats come home, but they're also at an age where they need to take responsibility for what they have or have not done. I'm going to help but I'm done chivying, because it's time for me to get on with it. My life. My projects. All of those ethereal plans that I have had in my head for so very long. The Banshees are getting close to being grown, so it's time that I start getting my cart-and-horse problems sorted out, and all of that living in my head but not in the real world dealt with, and start doing what needs to get done so the stuff I want to get done GETS done and hopefully within my lifetime and by my hand.

Which doesn't make a lot of sense rolled out like that, but I think I'm done with making sense and now I'm moving on to making myself.

So I'm giving myself a set of challenges, and I'm giving myself permission to be messy and haphazard and wrong about a lot of them as long as I either get them done or give getting them done a bloody good go of it. 

Which means I have to leave the planning stage sometime and get on with it.

The house? It's time to get on with it. Cleaning and paring and painting and whatnot, it has needed doing forever and I'm the one who needs to do it. I'm never going to be museum quality, but I do want a quiet clean space that will let me think, that will enable to get on with my other projects.

The Wilderness? It's time to get on with it. The pruning and weeding and gardening and managing and all of it.

My soaps and my knitting and my writing and reading and all of the sundry projects that I've settled on as what I want to master in the remaining decades of my life. It's just time to get on with it. Perhaps, I tell myself, my Banshees will learn my lessons better if they see me enact them. It wouldn't be the first time a parent has learned that Do What I Do has better results than Do What I Say. 

So here, in this blog that I've designated as the writing blog, I plan to write perhaps just a couple of dozen words in per day. To keep up a public record (even if there's no public to note it!) of what I'm accomplishing. However, the goal is three thousand words per day. Not just any old haphazard collection of words - I've limped through a couple of NaNo events by writing just the most gawdsawful guff and fluff, and that isn't what I want anymore. Purposeful writing, with a goal in mind and a rough road map of how to get there. However, to be a writer (to crib most shamelessly from Dragonsbane) you must really just be a writer. Apply rump to seat and fingers to words and practice, practice, practice. That takes a certain amount of dedication, but also and probably more important to me currently, a certain amount of ritual and routine. I suspect I may have an undiagnosed case of ADD - no hyperactivity for me! - but whether it's that or something else, I have had a problem with concentration most of my life, and the advice I've gleaned about dealing with high-functioning ADD will apply to me  very well regardless of what wiring I have going on between my ears. Ritual, routine, and subroutine - flexible enough not to strangle, established enough to get me functioning the way I want to function. Said ritual, routine, and subroutines not to be established at some far flung and unspecified future date, but to be started now, right now, even if I don't know what the hell I'm doing.

It's time, it's so very much time, to just get on with it.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Random Act of Authorship #1

I stepped
into the room and
I swear, it cracked. Not in any way that I am ever going to make any sense of to anyone, not in any way that I could point at and say, There, it broke there as if it was earthquake damage or the more weirdly probably hole in the wall caused by a random rare car accident. If I looked at you and said it cracked North by Northwest by Twilight Zone you would look at me

Yeah a lot like you’re looking at me now. But I do know a hawk from a handsaw even when the wind isn’t blowing, so give me some space. I’m not going to yell boo at you and make like an incipient ward of the mental community. Be lenient. I just felt a room fracture between reality here and reality somewhere else and describing it is a lot like telling somebody what that tiny something that you can only see out of the corner of your eye really, really looks like. I can’t see it straight on. I can only see it glimpse-wise. It isn’t like it has a shape or a color or a height or depth.

 Yeah, yeah, yeah, there was a noise but the sort that you only hear between your ears, sort of like the feeling you get when a nerve pinches wrong and half your head feels like it just spasmed and your tongue feels paralyzed only auditory somehow. Dissonance. Not static or white noise. Just me suddenly a quarter-step out of tune with everything. And then not, but with aftereffect, like it’s still twanging around inside of me, or that it ought to be. I want to put my feet down again and not feel like they should be stepping somehow differently, or somewhere differently. I want to hear again without feeling that weird jangly feeling like I should be hearing something else.

It was the window, I think. That was the only bit I can remember like it actually happened, even if it never actually happened. The window was the wrong color. No, not really the window, it was the light as it fell against the window. It was a different shade than the light that followed me through the door. The difference between day and late afternoon, maybe. Not darker, just not where it should have been or how it should have been. And there was someone there, someone looking in, looking at the room, looking at something and I’ll bet anything they felt that place fall apart the same way I did. But I can’t tell you who he was or what he looked like or why he felt the need to look into an empty house one very odd and fine afternoon. Just that he was there and that his eyes were very very blue and very suddenly scared and then

And then he just wasn’t there anymore, and I don’t know what happened to him at all.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Gearing Up Again!

Brief post: It's that time of year again, when the lure of the hastily and very badly written novel becomes well nigh overwhelming. Yes, it's tad over two weeks before NaNoWriMo and I am looking forward to splattering words all over my computer screen the way I used to splatter mud all over whatever was in the vicinity. At least this activity doesn't involve parents making me clean up and apologize!

Last year I went in completely unstructured, which usually works, but I also went in without my usual clear idea of what I wanted to write about, which in this case was an unmitigated disaster. This year my story idea bit me and then started dictating structure before I even agreed to write about it. Pushy little beast! Pithily put, this idea wants to be a tightly structured set of interconnected stories rather than a strict novel. Okay, I'm game. I'll have to come up with prologues, epilogues, and transition pieces along with the 6 interconnected pieces. I've never done this sort of thing before, but what the heck, it sounds interesting. And who knows? The whole conceit may fall by the wayside by the end of November. There's no telling what an author could come up with once they take that headlong plunge.

She's a starship, she's about to become fully sentient, and we're already arguing over names.