Lots Going On

I have a lot of things running through my mind, doing horrible things to my belly and head, ruining my sleep and concentration, which in turn just makes everything worse. Yay. So, not gonna focus on that. Does nothing but make me more stressed and nervous and frustrated.

I had a plan I was working on, trying to get back into the swing of things. I was going to talk about such exciting things like how the hole where my tooth used to be is healing (it’s a little surreal), or how I had to replace two tires today, and wound up replacing two that really needed to be replaced, and having a third repaired. Maybe even dig a little into the stress thing, although not too deeply. Some of that stuff is none of your business, after all. When I got home, after 7:30, and I sat down at my computer, logging on to Facebook after paying a bill that was due today, I saw a trending article – Dr Maya Angelou was gone.

There will be a lot of articles and posts about this today, but that’s because it really is news. A voice for the voiceless, for freedom, for equality, for common sense, a voice of strength, of kindness, of grace, has been forever silenced. Dr. Maya Angelou, US Poet Laureate, first since Robert Frost for John F Kennedy, first black woman, Phenomenal Woman indeed, has left this world. Her strength, her intelligence, her grace, her courage, her words, these things will live on.

When I was a student in college, we had a number of speakers on campus, people that made a difference in our world, not just theirs – Angela Davis, Elie Wiesel, Maya Angelou. There were more, of course, but these are the ones that really stuck with me. Through horror, they gained strength. Dr. Angelou had a cold when she was there; she didn’t feel that well. Someone left early, so she ended early herself. That student who had to leave was horrified to think she was ending the show on her account. Well, who wouldn’t? She did actually have somewhere else to be, couldn’t really stay for the whole thing, but we ended early. I think a half hour. It was harsh. Still, ignoring that part, it was an incredible evening.

Her final tweet:

Take a moment, spend some time with her. You won’t regret it.


Time Away

Stressful days, not fun, needed time away from everything. Didn’t really work out that well, the only thing I wound up with time away from was this blog; I didn’t like that.

Right now, there are some men outside the house cleaning up the greenery. One younger, two older. The two older are very good at telling the younger what he should be doing, as is the prerogative of older men everywhere. They are actually helping, too, so it’s more amusing than anything else. it’ll be nice to have a decent-looking yard for once. I can’t do it myself – no longer have the stamina, which is incredibly frustrating. Seriously, used to be able to do just about anything the average man could. Got a history of strong farm women in my blood, built to carry a pig under each arm while beating off wolves with my apron. Until fairly recently, I probably could have done just that. I’ve had to learn the hard way – more than once – what my limits now are, thanks to this kidney thing, primarily. Now there are additional problems spinning off from not being able to do what I used to, aches and pains that come with age, and lots of frustration. it comes, it goes.

Memorial Park, Colorado Springs, CO. Each branch of service is represented on that tower.
Memorial Park, Colorado Springs, CO.
Each branch of service is represented on that tower.

It’s Memorial Day weekend here in the US. It’s the day when we remember those who fell in the service of our country. Not the ones currently serving, that’s Armed Services Day, observed the third Saturday of May. Not the ones who have been discharged, that’s Veterans Day in November. Nor is it for the people who we lost that did not lose their lives in service to this country – that’s November 2nd, All Souls Day in many churches. Not sure what that would be for those who are not religious.

It’s not even the day to complain about wars you don’t agree with, to rail against military personnel who have served, but did not have a choice where they would serve. I have my issues with several conflicts, all fairly recent, but this is not the day for that.

Yesterday, yes. Tomorrow, absolutely, but please not today. Today is for those who have served our country and paid the ultimate price, and for the families they left behind. Just as any grieving family, they deserve a little peace.

Okay, off soapbox. That one, anyway; I make no promises that another won’t sneak in somewhere further along.

This three-day weekend has been a full one for me. Friday, I took a half day off work so I would have time to go to a friend’s son’s wedding. It was beautiful, truly beautiful. The bride was radiant and happy, the groom teared up a bit, and when they saw one another, there was no one else in the room. Saturday morning I did laundry. Figured it would be my only chance this weekend, and it kinda was. Saturday afternoon, I had a wedding to shoot. I didn’t study the map showing me how to get there well enough, so I wound up a good ten miles into the hills of Kentucky, before I called the primary photographer to get a confirmation on where I needed to be. The wedding didn’t start on time anyway, so we had time to go over the plan, and what would be expected of me. Did it for experience, rather than money. The photographer is happy to share her valuable knowledge. Now how could I pass up an opportunity to learn, hmm?

St John church, Middletown, OH. I don't yet have the equipment - or experience - to shoot one in a place like this.
St John church, Middletown, OH. I don’t yet have the equipment – or experience – to shoot one in a place like this.

It was outside in a lovely yard on a quiet street just off the interstate. Wouldn’t know it was all that close though, couldn’t hear a thing. A large tent was set up outside for the reception, and served as the aisle the bride would walk down. Again, the bride was radiant and happy, the groom teared up a bit, and when they saw one another, there was no one else in the yard. There were a few times I teared up, but I’m getting a grip on that. Can’t shoot weddings if I cry all the time. I didn’t get all the shots I’d have liked, still trying to figure out the best setting for doing that – on fully-automatic, the camera decides what’s important to focus on, on manual, I don’t have time to adjust for the scene when it’s constantly changing.

The bride and groom haven’t seen the photos yet, and I’m not about to ruin that surprise for them by being unprofessional, and publicly showing what I got.

About six hours on my feet, walking around on the hilly lawn, looking for the shots I wanted, hoping my camera felt like cooperating and shooting what I saw (the majority of my photos are just that), paying attention to any pearls of wisdom from the photographer herself, observing, seeing how she handled the bridal party, I enjoyed myself. I noticed that was the 2nd time I had a shoot and said exactly that, that I enjoyed it. I think I’m on the right track for what I really want to do.

Yesterday was even fuller. I had about an hour to myself. Church in the morning, time with a friend around lunchtime, and the evening at my father’s house with a fair slice of my family. Busy day. I was exhausted at the end. So tired, I didn’t do such a good job of parking my car when I got home. Had to be at least a foot away from the curb. Trust me, that’s tired.

I’d do it all again in a heartbeat. The entire day. Every minute of it.

Today, of course, was recovery, and I had planned to go to Taste of Cincinnati this afternoon, since I hadn’t had time to do that all weekend. At least, that was the plan until my sister knocked on my door this morning. There’s now most of a tree in my driveway, and the aforementioned ‘managers’ in my yard. I hope I get to go soon. It’s the last day, and this is a festival I don’t miss if I don’t have to. The unofficial start of summer, and the festival season.

So how am I observing Memorial Day? How do I honor those who gave their lives in service to this country? By living my life in the sure knowledge that today, at least, we don’t live in a dictatorship or fascist state, despite what some want to believe, and that if we get upset enough with the way things are going (Corporations as people? Really?), we still have the option of speaking up, instead of being silenced by our government, we are no longer British subjects, we are not Japanese or German subjects, we didn’t live under Soviet rule.

Honor, not celebrate. Celebrate implies you are glad for the deaths of these men and women in this country’s history. I am not; I would have preferred another choice had been made. War is not glorious, war is messy and deadly, it changes people, sometimes for the worse.

Today is not the day to go into that. We can talk about it tomorrow.

Photo Review…

Evening, y’all. It’s late, I’m tired. I haven’t slept well in weeks, so I’m finding it hard to come up with topics for Wednesday. The writing prompts are available, but it’s almost 11, and I need to make myself put my head down for the night. So, here are a few pictures from last weekend,and […]

Look Around

My mouth hurts. Had a tooth pulled. I couldn’t afford a root canal any time soon, even with insurance, and I was running out of tooth to crown, so the alternative was having it pulled. Back in 2007, a few months before I was laid off, I went to a dentist in Colorado who must have been fresh out of  dental school. He filled one tooth so badly, the bite didn’t settle for more than two months. It wasn’t my first filling, so I knew even after a week that something was wrong. I went back to get it fixed – got the same dentist, didn’t make anything better. In fact, not long after that was the first time that tooth chipped. Just a small fragment, but enough to leave a sharp edge. I could feel the crack in my tooth before the first noticeable chip.

Warm May Day_0234a
Here, something pretty to look at.

It kept chipping here and there for years. May 2011, two months after I got back, 15 months before I’d have insurance, 27 months before I’d be able to use it for a root canal, a big piece broke off. It held steady for a while, but by the end of last year, it was disintegrating at an alarming rate. At my semi-annual checkup, the dentist noted that I’d need to get the root canal and crown soon, or there wouldn’t be anything to fix.

A little sad the tooth was in such bad shape – they gave me a little chest to put it in, so I could leave it under my pillow for the Tooth Fairy. Unfortunately, it came out in pieces, so there wasn’t anything to put in it. Triste.

Wasn’t that exciting? No? Well, you weren’t there with a dentist and dental assistant playing tug-o-war with my head. So there. Still, it could have been so much worse. At least I like my dentist, and usually feel very comfortable there. Almost as comfortable as with my first dentist, who always had a story to share. Had even more when I had gotten accepted to his college alma mater, almost exactly 30 years later. One of his stories included the fact that while he was allowed to take classes, he had to live off-campus; black students weren’t allowed to live on-campus at the time.

But I digress…*

I missed Wednesday. I even had a topic – I was going to write about all the wonders in the world around us. The little things like how a little disk of plastic or hydrophilic gel means I don’t have to wear glasses, or how an invention first seen on Star Trek gives me access to the internet from McDonald’s. Then I realized I would have a hard time stretching that beyond 100 words. So, now what?

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day here in the US. Churches will be filled as if it were Christmas or Easter, restaurants will have special brunches, flowers will be as expensive as they are just before Valentine’s Day. News stories will constantly revolve around mothers, and the sacrifices they’ve made, or maybe some of the less-good things they’ve done. My Facebook feed will be full of pictures and comments about how wonderful someone’s mother is, how much she meant to them, and wishes for her to be happy in heaven.

I’m glad my church choir isn’t singing tomorrow. Mothers’ Day is for the children’s choir. You know how the songs go – you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone. Well, that’s true; except what I found I had was a less-than ideal relationship with my mother. There were good times and bad, and times I didn’t realize were bad until I got away from them. There was only discouragement for the things I loved, and encouragement for the things I did not. My voice was criticized, my writing derided, my thought to move to New York after high school was poo-poo’d, and I was told I wasn’t good enough to be a photographer.  Instead, the focus was on my academics, on the strengths in the classroom. I graduated with a very high C/low B average.

College was the same. My ACT and SAT scores were respectable, but the classwork caused me problem. My roommate was baffled at my grades – she saw me study. She even knew what subject I was studying. She heard my rants in French (I’ve lost most of it, now), saw me try to understand what the professor was looking for in Human Geography, heard me analyze a poem for English, and she didn’t understand why I wasn’t at least a B student. I didn’t, either.

Warm May Day_0159a
If I listened to her still, I wouldn’t have taken this.

I have a better sense of why, now, and not all of it was because I was doing something I didn’t want to do. That didn’t help, but that wasn’t the only culprit by far. Mom was no help there; she has her own problems with school and schoolwork. She failed out of college, despite her intelligence. She had to study for the first time in her life, and she didn’t know how. Neither did I; I lost my scholarship almost immediately. I had difficulty knowing what was important in a textbook and what wasn’t. And there was no one I could ask. Pretty close to the same reasons I left the school I attended in 7th and 8th grade, that last bit. My academic performance dramatically improved when I switched to the arts alternative school (at the time, the academic performance was comparable to the college prep school – still ranked in the top 100 in the nation – I transferred from); I was doing something I loved. It was much easier to take care of the academics when I wasn’t so miserable.

I didn’t have anyone believing in me, and that was enough to make me not believe in myself. That’s the foundation I was given, and once I recognized it, the foundation I’ve been working to overcome. That lack of support alone is certainly not the reason my life took some of the turns it made – I have free will, I made decisions that didn’t always work out. My self-esteem had been sufficiently destroyed, though, that it colored the choices I made.

Now, in spite of my mother’s words, in spite of the stress and misery she helped foster, I have taken the reins in my life. Not without help, but that was a decision I had to make; a decision I thought I needed to make, just so it was worth getting out of bed. It’s too late for a few things, now, but not too late for others. I can mourn the losses, or recognize the gains, the opportunities, and the chances I can take. I can focus on the things she said and did, I can mourn the childhood I didn’t have, or I can remember one very important thing –

She did actually love us.

Warm May Day Stitch a
Oddly enough, my mother is the one who taught me the most about the mechanics of photography.


*I should just call my blog that.

More Fun with HSP

Pirate's Cove Sand
The sand. The sand was nice, too. I liked that.

Last Saturday, I spent the morning doing something, I’ve no idea what, and that evening at a marina with my toes in the sand, as I’d mentioned, celebrating a friend’s birthday. The food was fried in oil that tasted like it’s seen a few things, and my Long Island was from a mix, but the band was good, as was the company; definitely makes up for it. Oh, and now I can say I’ve been there. Livin’ the dream.

Wednesday was a bit intense; I couldn’t let that one pass. It took a while to write; I wanted to make sure I made my point, rather than diluting it.  On the off chance that it wound up in the greater internet, I decided to disable comments; I don’t have the time or energy to monitor them, and I wasn’t really looking forward to any of the particularly nasty comments such subjects seem to encourage. I had a bit about Cliven Bundy that I wanted to add, but his situation is a little different than the other two; his is about stealing from the Federal government for the last twenty years, and how he’s a hero for some people who only like him because they are blinded by their hate for the current administration. His remarks are irrelevant to that situation.

So, that said, back to the HSP stuff.

This is hardly definitive, conclusive, or professionally binding, it’s just something I have decided to look into. It’s what I do, investigating things to see how they work. In this case, it’s people, and in order to understand how this works, I need to see how it relates to me. I think most people are like that, really; things only make sense if we can find some way to apply them to our own lives. I delve into personality tests and the myriad diagnoses of various brain chemistry and personality issues that come up. Mostly, I’m trying to figure out what’s just me, and what I should probably see someone about. I don’t see anything pathological here, just personality.

Once more, a comparison between being a highly-sensitive person, and being high-functioning autistic, or a person with Asperger’s. Here’s a list from Autismspeaks.org* showing what the symptoms of Asperger’s appear to be. All symptoms are not expected to be found in one person.

  • limited or inappropriate social interactions
  • “robotic” or repetitive speech
  • challenges with nonverbal communication (gestures, facial expression, etc.) coupled with average to above average verbal skills
  • tendency to discuss self rather than others
  • inability to understand social/emotional issues or nonliteral phrases
  • lack of eye contact or reciprocal conversation
  • obsession with specific, often unusual, topics
  • one-sided conversations
  • awkward movements and/or mannerisms

I’ve always been socially awkward, I know that. I know sometimes it’s made things difficult for me. I don’t think it falls into a disorder level awkwardness. The speech thing goes without saying…sorry, couldn’t help myself. I may inadvertently speak over the heads of my audience, or worse, say something that makes perfect sense to me because I had time to make an association that my listeners/readers have not, but I don’t think any of it is robotic or repetitive. Definitely not monotone.

2014 04 05_Eden Bloom_0383b text
I can’t recommend this book enough. Get it from the library, buy it, borrow it, but read it.

Non-verbal communications, I do tend to understand if I’m looking for them. Quite often, and quite easily, really. I don’t always respond to it the way the person wants, but I recognize it. Not a problem there. Tendency to discuss self rather than others, well, that one’s going to be difficult to prove here, but I really don’t talk about myself much. I’ve noted more than once that I’m amazed anyone is interested in anything I say, much less anything about me. I don’t always ask how someone is doing when I see them, but when I do, I usually want to know. I do gather facts like a magpie gathers shiny stuff, and if prompted, I’ll share, but I can tell when my audience is zoning out. For this, if I start boring myself, I will tend to stop or re-write a section, assuming anyone reading is probably finding it tedious, too. You should see some of the stuff I’ve deleted. Then again, maybe not. I can get a little unnecessarily verbose.

Lack of eye contact, yes, I do have that problem, it makes me very uncomfortable at times, and I tend to take things literally more often than not, usually because my mind has gone off somewhere else. I do get fascinated and obsessed about some things (how many posts regarding personality have I written?), but there’s so much more in the world to see and do and discover. And one-sided conversations only happen if I’m deliberately trying to keep the other person from speaking, when I have something I need them to hear. Again, nothing unusual about that. No, I’m quite sure I don’t fit on the autism spectrum.

From hsperson.com:

  • Are you easily overwhelmed by such things as bright lights, strong smells, coarse fabrics, or sirens nearby?
  • Do you get rattled when you have a lot to do in a short amount of time?
  • Do you make a point of avoiding violent movies and TV shows?
  • Do you need to withdraw during busy days, into bed or a darkened room or some other place where you can have privacy and relief from the situation?
  • Do you make it a high priority to arrange your life to avoid upsetting or overwhelming situations?
  • Do you notice or enjoy delicate or fine scents, tastes, sounds, or works of art?
  • Do you have a rich and complex inner life?
  • When you were a child, did your parents or teachers see you as sensitive or shy?
  • Do you get rattled when you have a lot to do in a short amount of time?

It depends. As I mentioned in my last post, I do get rattled when the heat is on. I’ve seen a lot of people get that way, so I don’t thing that really says what it means clearly enough.

  • Do you have a rich and complex inner life?
  • When you were a child, did your parents or teachers see you as sensitive or shy?

2013-04-06 Ault Saturday 014a text Not quite sure what is meant by a rich and complex inner life. Part of that is my personality; I don’t see much black or white, my world is shades of gray. What that means is nearly every answer, every question, every truth, every lie, fits on a spectrum. “What time is it” has more than one answer. I have to analyze context to determine what answer is desired. Fortunately, I can do that quite quickly. Perhaps that is what was meant.

As for the sensitive or shy thing, I honestly don’t know. I know how I felt, how I feel, but I don’t know how I was perceived. If I answered this for myself, from my own point of view, I would have to say yes, I was sensitive and shy. The quiet one in the corner, invisible unless I wanted to be seen, or was sought out by someone else. I don’t know about my immediate family, but I do know my extended family thought of me as shy. Large and gregarious, family events can be exhausting. Always worth the energy as far as I’m concerned, but exhausting.

I could further elaborate on any one of those points, but I won’t. I think the last two have been, and will continue to be, demonstrated throughout my blog posts.


*Other sources regarding Asperger’s and autism:
NIH – National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
Wikipedia – Shush, it can be useful when used with other sources.
Mayo Clinic – page with the symptoms

Part One – HSP
Part Two
 – HSP and Stuff
Part Three – HSP Once More
Part Four – More Fun with HSP

If you’re curious whether you should speak to someone about this, there are online tests that can start a conversation for you. They are not diagnostic tools, and they shouldn’t be used that way.
Personality traits can skew the results:
Asperger’s Test Site
Asperger’s Quiz
Aspie-Quiz – this one’s long, but interesting. The graph at the end doesn’t tell you a whole lot, though.