Grandma
howl_at_the_sun
In the last few years, I got better at talking to my grandma. Read more...Collapse )

(no subject)
howl_at_the_sun
So I read a book, which was an excellent book, called Shades of Milk and Honey, and one of my responses was the main character is So Smart, which I love, so why, at certain points in the book, is she So Dense?

There is a pattern in my life that when I ask a question, I tend to get an answer from the universe.

In this case, it was in the form of a date. I do phone customer service for a printer repair place, and occasionally I am prone to bantering, especially if the person on the line sounds like they might be open to it. So, when a man called in a problem with his copier, sounding long-suffering, I asked him if he was at least two stories up. "What?" he said. Then I recommend he push it out the window. If he wasn't, though, I suggested a large, ball-peen hammer might do the trick. He was most amused, and since I didn't have much else I needed to do, we started chatting. He turned out to have taught high school and to be working in computer forensics. Both these things, I find pretty cool.

Eventually, this led to a date.

During this date, he mentioned being able to figure out wot people wanted to hide on computers, and I said, oooh, that sounds like fun. Do you have an example. He says, yes! It's kind of long. I say, go! I like stories.

So he tells me that he is divorced, and that he and his wife had a mutual friend. Post-divorce, the friend decided to take the wife's side. He found this odd because it hadn't been that kind of divorce. Apparently, though, he got all kinds of "crazy" lectures from her, and at one point, well after the divorce, she started insisting that he had a girlfriend. No, he said. I do not. And he wanted to know where she'd heard it, because he likes to know why things are. She would not say.

"What does this have to do with your computer tricks?" I asked. He explained. He got her to send him a text message which crashed her iPhone, and allowed him to run code that downloaded all her text messages and emailed them to his email address. Then he read through all her private text messages and verified that indeed, no one had told her that he was dating, so he concluded that she had made it up. I asked, how do you know she didn't talk or something? He said, she was a texter.

What I did not do was go, "That is fucking creepy, and I am leaving."

Only later, as I was trying to relate this story as an Amusing Anecdote, did it occur to me how completely, utterly, and unquestionably fucked up a story it was. He did What?

It wasn't even on my radar, beyond a vague flicker of 'that is a strange way to behave'. I was exhausted, true; I had only had three hours of sleep, and I was distracted with many other things. I was trying hard to be agreeable and friendly, because I do try to do that in conversation, and in doing so, I missed the point. I missed the point that was not subtle at all, that would have been obvious to anyone who was not trying to be nice and friendly so hard. I was So Dense.

In Shades of Milk and Honey, the main character had even more social pressure to be nice and agreeable. She believed in it more than I thought I did. The perceptual block that goes with some forms of social behavior is really quite shocking, and scary.

Poor Ginger
howl_at_the_sun
I have been thinking about stories, and the stories that resonate with me, and what myths I identify strongly with.


Cut for Spoilers to Black Beauty, Les Mis, and Ol'Yeller...Collapse )

The Dog Goes for a Walk
howl_at_the_sun
I took my dog, Rhymer, for a walk in Castle Rock Park, where there are squirrels. On squirrel-less trails, he stays more or less nearby. On squirrel-ful trails, apparently, he turns into a ravenous beast and vanishes into the horizon. Hmm.

So, he went off on one such expedition, and I turned around and walked the other way. A while later, he came galloping gleefully back and sped ahead off me, off into that horizon. Hmm.

I turned around and walked the other way.

Repeat about 20 times.

The dog finally walked, beaten, at my side, panting as though he couldn't breathe. I walked a short loop with him maintaining a respectable distance and then took him to my parents' house. My dad took the other two dogs for a walk. Normally, this would be an occasion of Much Angst for Rhymer. As I am sitting here writing this, however, he has no energy for proper angst. He whines in a vague, breathless way, hauls himself to a standing position, walks about two feet, and thumps back to the ground, panting furiously. He recovers a little, then does the same thing again. Pant, pant, whine, stand, pace, thump. Repeat.

It is one of the more pathetic things I have had the privilege to witness.

Southern California Picture Spam
howl_at_the_sun
Here be pictures. Collapse )

I spent a lot of time running around interviewing people and taking crooked videos (oops!). Thoroughly exhausting. And now I've accumulated even more research material. ... Why was I thinking that I needed that again?

Dog and Cat
howl_at_the_sun
I recently acquired a beautiful new Sony camera in order to do interviews for my Public History Project. So, accordingly, procrastinating about said project, I took pictures of the cat and dog. I also took a video, but it made me seasick to watch, so I'll have to work on that.
Photos behind the cut.Collapse )

(no subject)
howl_at_the_sun
It is strange and glorious to be unreservedly happy.

(no subject)
howl_at_the_sun
I have made sense of depression that I have not ever made before, and it is ... a bizarre kind of relief.

I've always had it in my head that depression is like riding a runaway horse. Except, instead of the horse, I am riding my emotions. When they start to run away, it's usually toward a horribly nasty emotional state. And for some time I've been able to identify that they're going there, when I am starting to spiral, but like a runaway horse, simply *knowing* that the horse is running away does not by any means make the horse stop.

I observed that I had gotten better at dealing with *actual* runaway horses. That is to say, my horse. If I feel her start to think of running off, I can usually prevent it. Usually. If I catch it before she's gone. If she's gone, well, then I ride it out and get control when I can. Usually, if I go back to the basics and drill her a bit, or sometimes even get off, the running off does not happen.

I told Barbara that the problem was that I could not do the same with myself.

And I called my dad, after the session, telling him that I was unhappy about not doing things, unhappy with feeling unable to do things -- i.e., I was unhappy with getting away with emotionally. I don't think he understood that. He said, well, why don't you just do it? If you want to do those things, why not just make a real commitment and follow through with your plans?

I melted. Of course I melted. If there is one thing I have been doing, it is trying. I don't like to think how much of my effort and energy has gone into knock down drag out fights with myself so that I can get things I need doing done. I don't like to think about how much I've had to try to do basic, basic things that are hard for no explicable reason. And so, the only alternative that seemed left was that I really did not have that much strength; at the end of the day, I did not have enough spine, enough will, to get through. Not enough to make myself try as much as I should. Or, perhaps, that I was broken, so much so that trying wasn't worth it, because it wasn't working.

I had a bad night, you bet.

Then I thought about the runaway horse. If I were riding a runaway horse, and someone told me that the horse was not stopping because *I was not trying hard enough* to stop it, I would think that they were an idiot. Pull harder and fight more with a horse that's running away, pit yourself against its strength, and guess what happens? The horse runs faster, and you get tired. Stopping a runaway horse is not, on the whole, a matter of strength. It's absolutely a matter of knowing what to do and when to do it. It's knowing the tricks of how to ride, of how to stop the horse from running away to begin with. It is never, for most people, a matter of strength.

It's not a matter of strength. Such an odd thought. Such a relief of a thought. It's a matter of knowing not just how to ride, but how to work through already existing problems; it's a matter of training. It's a matter of knowing how to communicate and how to refine things, and some days the bloody horse will still run off with you. But it gets better, and it doesn't get better because the rider gets stronger; it gets better because the rider learns how to deal with the problems.

Cooking lessons learned today
howl_at_the_sun
 1) There is such a thing as too much tomato, even if you really love tomato.

2) Coriander cannot fix everything. 

3) It is okay to throw out a dish before anyone else has a chance to verify that it really is that bad. Especially if you do the dishes afterward to conceal the evidence.

One of my favorite passages ever.
howl_at_the_sun
From Freedom & Necessity by Emma Bull and Steve Brust.  "I'm doing this mostly because it's opened wide a door to a room inside me that before I could only guess at by the light along the sill and through the keyhole. It's a room in which all those things in me that, living the normal life of a well-bred woman, I could never use--strength and speed and hardiness; command over my mind and body; respect for the language of my senses; a certain ferocity of the spirit-- are not only useful but essential. In that place life is lived as if in mid-air over an obstacle, between leap and landing, with everything committed and nothing certain. Everything happens fast enough."

You are viewing howl_at_the_sun