mokie: Sleepy hobbit Will Graham naps on a couch (tired)
I have discovered a feeling more frustrating than having to interact when I'm feeling hermit-ish: being all out of social energy when all I want to do is be social.

The cold weather is mostly past, and I am itching to get out of the house and roam. Spring is ready to unleash some seasonal loveliness all over the place, and I am itching to photograph it. Things are happening around town, and I am itching to be there. There's a whole slew of local people whose company I enjoy, and I am itching to enjoy it.

And yet, I can't social. Half an hour of people-time and I'm out of social for the day. I don't explode in grumpiness, I just hit an exhausted but polite nodding stage.

Maybe my need to socialize is being trumped by my need to go outside and play...

Concentric Kvetching

Saturday, 8 March 2014 03:27 am
mokie: FLCL's Naota silhouetted holding a guitar (impressed)
I want to save this forever and ever.

Psychologist Susan Silk came up with a handy visualization of concentric rings to help people avoid saying the wrong thing to a person going through tough times.

At the center of the diagram is the person at the center of the situation - for example, a man who is seriously ill. The people in that person's life are arranged outward from the center in circles of ever-decreasing intimacy: his spouse and immediately family are one circle out from center, their close friends a circle beyond that, then extended family and aunties followed by co-workers (or maybe vice versa, depending on how the family feels), then acquaintances, then that sales clerk who always says hello and the guy who sometimes reads the ill man's blog, ad infinitum.

The rules: care goes inward, venting comes outward.

The sick man needs a shoulder to lean on, not to have to support everyone else and make sure they're okay with his condition. At the same time, his immediately family needs support from their extended family, not to have to comfort a distant aunt who wants to wax dramatic about how this illness devastates her. And if that aunt happens to be in town and stops by the shop, a sympathetic word from the sales clerk would be great, but not a lot of fretting about a customer he barely knows.

Given that so many of us worry about what to say, saying the wrong thing, what we think we'd want to hear if we were in those shoes, etc., this is a nice reminder that we're not at all in those shoes, and that some situations shouldn't be about what we need or want, but about what someone else needs from us.
mokie: Sleepy hobbit Will Graham naps on a couch (sleepy)
Why do so many family fights and feuds begin with funerals? Because it's easier to fight than it is to feel.

Sadness and grief are helpless feelings. You can't do anything about them. You just slog through, and even if you slog through, it gets you nothing - it doesn't bring someone back, it doesn't undo the cause of your sadness. You just endure it. It's so much easier to feel angry, because it makes you feel like there's something you can do about it.

Being sad won't bring your loved one back, but you don't have to realize you feel sad if you're busy being mad at your brother. You're helpless in the face of your grief, but in your anger you can ban your brother's family from your home. A measure of that drowning wave of emotion is repackaged as anger, because you can do something about anger - you can hang it on someone else's neck and drive them out. When the emotion creeps up later, it tells you it's anger - Can you believe he did that?! - and you can tell yourself you've done something about it.

Once I saw this pattern in my own behavior - I'm frustrated/tense because [depression/grief/etc.] and I'm not dealing with it directly - I learned how to slow down and turn that energy towards the actual problem. I also learned that I'm not an emotionally stunted freak, and this is pretty common. Most importantly, I got a sense for my schedule - for example, that February was always terrible, and it had to do with being cooped up and oversocialized in December and then numb in January.

Between snow days and cabin fever, this month has been full of people throwing matches and punches. I don't know if this year is worse than most or if it just seems that way because I'm outside it this year, since the flu knocked me off my ass for two weeks (and wobbly for two more) and so I've had plenty of people-free time.

Or maybe I vent my grumblies through TV shows about cannibal serial killers and zombie presidents nowadays. That's healthy too, right? Sure it is.

Happy New Year!

Friday, 4 January 2013 08:55 am
mokie: Stonehenge with the sun shining through the stones (holiday renewal)
Three days late for a new year post. Well, so much for that resolution...

Let's get right to business, shall we?

NEW
YEARS
RULIN'S


1. WORK MORE AND BETTER. I've been very fortunate in my current line of work, but I need to buckle down and more actively seek more of it. This means overcoming my oddly specific fear of work-related scheduling conflicts, a result of having to fight at three different retail jobs to make them respect my 'unavailable' days.

2. WORK BY A SCHEDULE. A new soap or related product every week! This year, I will keep the shop stocked.

3. Here's where I break from the Guthrie list, because the man has eight different hygiene-related resolutions, which is a little worrisome. So instead, I'll take one from a very cool project manager I know: PUT ON A BRA AND GO OUTSIDE. Between working from home and working night owl hours, it's easy for me to forget to put on real clothes and go outside every so often. While the fresh air may be trying to kill me, I could probably use the vitamin D, and the socialization.

4. DRINK GOOD. With all due respect to Mr Guthrie, I want to expand my alcoholic horizons this year, from trying out more of the local beers to adding some of the better reviewed absinthes to my liquor cabinet.

5. READ LOTS OF GOOD BOOKS AND WRITE EVERY DAY. When scheduling gets crazy, one of the first things to fall by the roadside is my own writing. The next is recreational reading. I miss both, and so this year, instead of being something to fit around the schedule, they're going to be part of the schedule. That includes staying on top of the journals, and getting older entries properly tagged. All thirteen years of them.

And a corollary: read less tabloid fodder and media gossip, view fewer celebrity photos. This isn't a new resolution for me. I was never big on gossip rags, and working in retail during Britney Spears' Very Bad Year, seeing her mental illness played out over rows of magazines every day for entertainment, didn't raise my opinion of them. Unfortunately it's easier to get sucked into gossip online, where you're often looking at a row of links to news stories mixed with a row of links to stories that shouldn't be considered news at all. ("The Senate passed a bill requiring--wait a minute, Lindsay Lohan did what?")

It also weirds me out that our celebrities have WWF-style heroes, villains, grudges and sob stories that are wheeled out as a form of advertising every time they have a movie coming out. That can't be healthy for us as a culture.

But mostly, it's the idea that being a celebrity means someone gives up their right to common respect and privacy--that they don't have the right to sit in their own yard without cameras peering over hedges, that they can't walk their kid to school without hiring someone to first push the press out of the way, or that it's acceptable to put lives at risk chasing them through traffic in search of that perfect shot. And for what? For a picture to put in a magazine intentionally designed to make the rest of us feel old, fat, ugly and unhip so we'll buy products to fix what isn't broken. Why feed that beast? Why pay anyone to make myself and a handful of famous strangers miserable, when I generally feel better not knowing or caring who's seeing/breaking up with/stalking who?

6. DON'T GET LONESOME. I'm not just an introvert, I'm one of those introverts that makes other introverts uncomfortable. But I've been slack when it comes to maintaining my social ties lately, so this year I'm going to make an effort not to be such a hermit--from a family game night with the nephew, to taking a friend up on an offer to tutor me in local beers.

7. LEARN PEOPLE BETTER. I've seen some cooing over Guthrie's self-awareness, and even a project on Tumblr about interviewing people to learn them better. As a girl with roots in southern Missouri, though, I suspect Woody was using 'learn' in the rural sense--that this really means "Teach people more effectively." That's how I'm taking it, albeit in a personal direction.

Though I rant about random topics that rile me and get way too cozy with the TMI, I'm really a pretty private person. I don't open up often or easily about my personal life, feelings, beliefs, relationship status--anything, really.

In my hesitation to become that friend who won't shut up about their cause or their boyfriend or their faith, I've become instead something of a relatable blank slate. The end result is that I find myself fairly often with an angry ___ who is upset because suddenly my experience/feeling/opinion/belief doesn't mesh with what they've projected onto me, and I'm not an angry ___ too. (It's usually atheists. Don't know why.) I'm never whatever enough to fit the idea they've formed of me, so they want to push me to their position, or lecture me on how wrong I am to not be like them, or tell me what I really am/believe (and you would not believe how much that pisses me off). There I am, left with the awkward choice of smoothing things over and putting up with their crap for the sake of peace, or telling them to fuck off and dealing with the fall-out. I admit that I lean more toward the latter these days, because life's too short to cater to other people's personal issues. But anyway.

Essentially, I need to open up more, and get comfortable with expressing who I am and what I think (etc.) a little more, and not worry so much about becoming that creepy friend who nags you for wearing leather, or being targeted by that creepy friend if I reveal that I'm not also a Baptist/vegan/UFOologist.

For the record: I'm a relatively liberal blue-haired bisexual hammock-dwelling pulp-reading hippie-ish single neopagan who eats meat, listens to whatever damn music feels good at the time, and really only feels strongly about reproductive rights and single spaces after sentences. (Never double. It's a relic of the printing press and HTML ignores it anyway. Let it go.) There's probably more worth adding, but nothing comes to mind at the moment. If you're conservative, don't eat meat, don't dig hammocks, listen only to K-pop, etc., it makes me no nevermind.

8. STAY GLAD. I used to live within walking distance of one of the world's greatest gardens; now I'm a tedious bus ride from any of the city's fun activities. I used to live beside a well-planted park, in a picturesque neighborhood that I wandered with a camera in hand; I now live in a closely packed neighborhood with bland lawns, where I feel like an intrusive guest even without the camera. I used to have my own little garden, with plantings older than I was and a makeshift pond; now I have a tiny patch of weedy dirt that I share with a rotating cast of neighbors who always, always, take it over and ruin it.

I've let this vague, sulky, gloomy dissatisfaction rule my roost far too long. I need to zhenzhizhenzhify my outlook! To look up and find the beauty in the moment and where I'm at, to look out over the neighborhood not as an intruder but as an explorer, to take bootyloads of photos and share them, if only to remind myself that it's not where my body is, it's where my head is.

9. SAVE DOUGH. Enough said, right?

10. LOVE EVERYBODY. And I do, even when I don't.
mokie: A patriotic squirrel holding an American flag (politics lol)
I anticipated trouble voting yesterday. I've never had trouble before. Hell, I've only even had to wait once, because my old neighborhood was apathetic and my current neighborhood seems to be full of 9-to-5 types who vote before or after work.

But news stories reported that some groups were challenging voters' registrations in liberal areas, so I worried until I received my spankin' new permanent voter's card. Then there was all the hubbub about requiring a photo ID (mine is expired), so I was relieved the card had a list of valid IDs and a big, bold and underlined statement that photo ID was not required.

But mostly, I worried because I've never tried to vote with green hair before. I look pretty solidly and disarmingly South St. Louis normally (albeit with dubious fashion sense), as hoosier* as a hand-me-down pick-up--until you get to the green hair.

I'll be honest and admit that I've received remarkably less grief over my occasionally odd hair colors and clothing than many other people do. Since middle school, and outside of cracks from my family, the closest I've come to negativity was a guy on the bus a few years back who said people with weird hair colors were freaks, but it looked good on me and did I want to go back to his place? (No. No, I did not.) That's the closest I've noticed, anyway; being generally oblivious to other people has its benefits.

So I packed my ID, my expired photo ID, and my voter's card, and trekked out to do my civic duty. They asked to see exactly none of it. After a brief wait, I had voted and was on my way out the door, where I helped someone find their line, answered a question about the wait time, and heard not a single word about my fuzzy hoodie or green hair.

I'm proud of my little slice of the city for not being as uptight as I'd feared it might be.


* St. Louis definition, 'urban redneck'.
mokie: Blue angel in the night with wings of veins (dream dreamlet)
Friday I was invited to dinner and drinks to celebrate the sweetevangelineawesome Ms E's glorious, if brief, return to St. Louis. The time: 6:30pm.

I awoke at 8:30pm, two hours late. I was not just disappointed--I was devastated.

For all my complaints about minimum wage jobs and how difficult it can be to plan get-togethers when you don't have set hours, or when you have set hours that don't jibe well with the rest of the world's set hours, freelance hasn't exactly changed anything for me there. My workday is effectively 5pm to 3am many days. If I didn't love the work I do, I'd probably cry at the delicious irony of it all.

Several important last-minute jobs have made me miss recent gatherings, and the wonderful exec who sends me these jobs recently called me out and put her foot down, essentially telling me to put on pants and go hang out with my friends once in a while before I went all squirrelly. Thus I'd sworn not to miss this one, minor advertising emergencies be damned.

And yet there it was: 8:30pm.

I laid back down in the hammock to pout. (Yes, I still sleep in a hammock.) I tossed. I turned. I grumbled. I slept and woke and slept and woke a few times. I considered getting up, then ruthlessly shot it down. Why bother? What was the point? It was already too late! Then my bladder chimed in, but I stuck to my guns. No! I would not get up! I would not get up just so I could be missing everything! It was stupid, and I was going back to bed.

At some point, a less sleepy portion of my brain pointed out that it was awfully damn bright for 8:30pm...

I begrudgingly got up to use the bathroom, shooting the clock a death-glare as I passed: 2:30pm.

Wait--2:30?

Yes, I dreamt that I overslept, then went back to sleep in the dream and refused to get up in the dream.

And so that evening I went lighter on the beer than I might otherwise, because who was to say that I was really awake yet?
mokie: A tiny, sad cardboard robot walks in the rain (sad)
I dreamt I walked into the old house to find three homeless junkies lounging around, one of whom I knew as a friendly acquaintance. I pulled family aside to talk, trying to get the idea across that they couldn't just let people come inside and hang, but they weren't getting it. So I retrieved $25 that I owed my sister and hid it in a glass.

The friendly junkie left, and I didn't dare look in the glass, but I didn't need to either--I already knew the money was gone.

You can like someone, even love them, and still not trust them.
mokie: Ghostbusters' Vinz Clortho wears a collander and answers questions (nerdy)
Ready? Okay!

- I recently did some work on ad copy for a line of toys.* Next Christmas, you should expect to see me in the local toy store, laughing maniacally at my newfound power over the minds of the young and innocent.

- Just found out that the host of Adagio's webcast reviewing custom blends is apparently a well-known and much-travelled public speaker who appears all over yon webbish TV/*cast enterprises, especially tea-related ones. Oh, and he's a Mizzou student. Queue Cue conflicting feelings of, "Oh, hey, Columbia!" and "Oh, God, how old is he?"

- Somewhere along the way, I stopped spelling it 'cue' and started spelling it 'queue.' I don't know when or how to stop.

[On a queue, for a cue, on a queue, for a cue--I will remember this!]

- Current brief obsession under investigation: streaming music. What are the real differences between Pandora and Rdio and Last.fm and so forth? I will not rest until I find out! Or lose interest! [Done!]

- For those who haven't heard, from Time.com: Why Have Hackers Hit Russia's Most Popular Blogging Service?

Short answer: probably a politically-motivated attack to silence dissent. If you haven't been able to access Livejournal, this is why.

If you're feeling anxious and would like to back your journal up, you can do that, but bear in mind that it adds to the strain on the system and that LJ's probably not going anywhere. You might consider instead signing up for one of the alternate sites (read: LJ clones) until the dust settles--just update to the new site and, when LJ's back up, copy and/or crosspost. It's also a generally convenient way to mirror your journal so people in your particular hobby/interest-based community can keep up with you no matter what site they prefer.

As for the clones...

There's DeadJournal, which is the granddaddy of the clones and thus lacks some of the later LJ functionality (and accompanying glitches). I've had an account since LJ's 2001 growing pains, and never noticed any technical problems. I've noticed that the user base skews a little dark and gothy, and it's not really a hopping joint, so if you're looking for lots of Golden Girls fandom interaction, it might not be the ideal destination for you

There's InsaneJournal, which became fandom's favorite once the creator of GreatestJournal flipped everyone the bird and let it die. It could simply be growing pains, but IJ is very prone to technical troubles of its own, and if everyone rushes over when LJ's down you'll probably see that in action. If you're looking for active community action you'll find it, but if you're just looking to post something while LJ's down, you may want to look elsewhere.

There's Dreamwidth, the idealistic newcomer. They started out with some very specific goals and intentions (see the guiding principles and diversity statement), they've expanded with fandom and roleplayers in mind, and they've taken the open source part of LJ's code and done very interesting things with it--including things that LJ users have been dreaming of for years. (Hello, in-line cut expansion!) Unfortunately, things are still a little quiet at DW--its slice of fandom consists mostly of the serious discussion of issues folks (see the guiding principles and diversity statement?), while the icon-making squeefuls are happy enough camped out at IJ. You may not find the activity you're looking for.

In other words, pick your high school lunch buddy: the antisocial kid in black who doesn't mind loaning you a buck for the jello cup but won't keep up conversation, the comedian who's great for a laugh but will flake out on you at the drop of a hat, or the very reliable junior feminist who will tell you all about the new club she's starting to save marmosets. DJ and DW both require invite codes and I have some to share, because I was down with all the cliques in high school, donchaknow.**

Alternately, you could just update LJ via a client like Semagic, which can queue posts for later if LJ happens to be down. That's why it's magic!

* No specifics. You never know where I'll strike.
** Well, not so much 'down with' as 'oblivious to.' Also, there were only about 2-300 kids in my entire high school.***
*** Yes, I was the flake. Still am, to tell the truth.
mokie: Ghostbusters' Vinz Clortho wears a collander and answers questions (nerdy)
The media likes to claim that the Internet has the attention span of a toddler.

Remember this. I'll come back to it.

Ezra Klein offers an explanation of why Facebook matters, which is really more a comment on a quote from a GQ article, Viral me:
"The big change, the big shift in the Internet that's happened in the past three or four years, is the shift towards social being the most important thing," Angus says. "So now increasingly you discover content or care about content in the context of your friends. Up until now, Google's PageRank has been the dominant way that content gets sorted, ordered, and found on the Internet. And the threat from Facebook is to say, 'wait, we're going to reorder the whole Internet, all the content out there. And instead of it being based around some algorithm that a search engine says is important, we're going to base it around who you are, who your friends are, and what those people are interested in."
Why has this shift happened in the past three or four years?

It hasn't.

When the media talked about the Internet a year ago, two years ago, five years ago, what was the context? Blogs. Memes. Viral advertising. Musicians who got their start on Youtube or MySpace, nerd bloggers who become minor stars in their own right. The power of 'word of mouth', and the Internet as the new grassroots.

When the media talked about the Internet ten or even fifteen years ago, what was the context? Forums. Chat rooms, and what your kids might be up to in them. How a cheap indie horror flick became a blockbuster international hit through 'Internet buzz'. People talking to each other over computers instead of the telephone!

The media likes to claim that the Internet has the attention span of a toddler, but it's the media and its less-than-nerdy target audience that are guilty of not paying attention. A few large social hubs burst onto the scene in the past couple of years, and where most other social hubs focused on users finding other users with similar interests, these hubs encouraged users to recruit their family, offline friends and acquaintances. Yes, thanks to this shift, the uncle who joked that the only reason you could have to own a computer is to look up porn is now asking to be your friend on Facebook.

The shift isn't social. The shift is personal.

It isn't simply that a lot of people who thought that Google was the Internet (and who, ten years earlier, would have thought that AOL was the Internet) are panicking because they can't find Facebook. It's that, oh my God, comment #6 is my mother!*

It isn't that your kid sister is now talking to people over the computer, and NBC wants you to make sure she does so safely! It's that your kid sister is talking to you over the computer, and your mother wants to know what she's saying on her Wall because sis defriended her after their latest spat.

It isn't about discovering or caring about content in the context of your friends. It's about discovering content posted by friends you made in high school, and by people you know by their real names, people who don't even know what an Internet handle is, much less what yours is--and that's the way you want to keep it.

God help the relative who finds my Twitter account.

* Rhetorical device. My mother did not comment to that article. I hope.

About dream/reading tags

y-* tags categorize dreams.

For types: beyond the obvious, there are dreamlets (very short dreams), stubs (fragment/outline of a partially-lost dream), gnatter (residual impression of a lost dream).

For characters: there are roles (characters fitting an archetype), symbols (characters as symbols), and sigils (recurring figures with a significance bigger than a single dream's role/symbolism).

x-* tags categorize books.

Material is categorized primarily by structure, style and setting. If searching for a particular genre, look for the defining features of that genre, e.g. x-form:nonfic:bio, x-style:horror, x-setting:dystopian.

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