commodorified: Ooo err posh
If anyone's interested, it's one of the jasmines I was babbling at kaberett about:
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The bloke just got a new chip-based humidity sensor. Being the mature, experienced researcher that I am, I suggested that he test it
by breathing on it.
by sticking it up his nose.
by putting it down his trousers.
I encountered a problem with some data yesterday. The amount of time I allocated to attempting to fix it was
as much time as I needed to complete it
the length of the Series 5 DVD of "Red Dwarf"
Seen all over the place: This Insane New App Will Allow You To Read Novels In Under 90 Minutes.
To which my initial response is,
a) thank you, there are already novels that I can ingest in that time
b) why would you want to, unless it's a really short novel to begin with?
I can see that there are people for whom this would be valuable assistive technology (though I'm not sure whether it's really that appropriate for novels or recreational reading generally, rather than the things one HAS to read for some purpose or other).
Though another question is, how far would one retain anything and how far would something read in this way mean anything? The words have flashed past the eyes, what remains?*
But one thing that sprang to mind is that for people who are already fairly fast readers, this would be absolutely maddening (not to mention, probably productive of motion sickness or migraine, flick-flick-flick as words flash up), because I don't read word by word
and I believe research shows that after a certain level of reading competence, people read by sentence/block of text, and there is a difference between readers whose eyes flick from side to side across the page and those who go, pretty much, straight down. 'The eye's natural motion' in reading is not a universal given.
*Looking at the longer history of speed-reading, we are given to wonder if this is just techno snake oil.
This has been one of those exasperating weeks full of meetings internal and external which have broken up my days in such a way that I have been able to get on v little with current cataloguing project, which is just a tad ironic as two meetings this week (and one last) were relating to a project which is going to be rather dependent on this collection actually being bloody catalogued.
Research leave is not quite definite but looking distinctly possible.
My poor sickly tablet has been checked out of hospital and appears so far to be in fine fettle (apart from the sheer hassle of getting everything back on it).
I have had some very flattering feedback apropos of the talk I gave last week.
Can you talk a little about the ways in which your illness works as a barrier to writing? What are some of the specific challenges you deal with?
It feels right that I procrastinated on this so long that now I’m doing this while depressed. My brain is either hypomanic or depressed. The time for which my neurochemical pendulum sits in the middle varies from hours to a day or so. My hypomanic brain writes. I write a lot. I finished NaNoWriMo in six days. That’s not normal and I won’t even pretend that’s normal. Except it is for me. When my brain’s on, it’s on fire. When it’s off, I might as well not even know how to string together words because I can barely finish anything at all.
Depression shuts me down and off. Tucks my brain away for recharging. I almost never finish drafts when depressed, and I tend to get very nostalgic about old drafts that honestly should never see the light of day. I’m a black and white thinker already but I think that depression magnifies this. I’m more likely to think and say things, “I’ll never get published” and “Everything I write sucks” and talk myself down. Protip: scolding yourself and calling yourself crap doesn’t help you write! But it’s hard not to get stuck in that toilet boil downward spiral. Gravity flush in the brain.
I also am recovering/in recovery from a lifelong eating disorder. Depression makes my appetite disappear, and I’ve never been good at listening to hunger cues. I have to bribe, force, and cajol myself into eating. Writing doesn’t happen if you don’t have fuel or if your blood sugar is so low that you feel too miserable and weak to write. Maybe this is just me, but writing takes energy. It’s an exhaustive process even when it’s an invigorating process. We’re always talking about writing fuel and writing snacks on Twitter, so maybe everyone’s subconsciously aware of this. But you can’t write when you’re not taking in some sort of calories (case in point: for my sickest years in my eating disorder, I wrote nothing at all. Nothing.) Depression compounds my recovery.
What are some specific things you do to manage your illness that you find effective?
I’ve written and rewritten the answer to this specific question several times. I don’t know that I’ve found anything effective. I took away my internet at home so that I have to go to Starbucks or Barnes & Noble. For me, this is socializing and this is a level of socializing that I can do whether my brain’s super speedy or my brain’s stuck in the fog. I can tell a few of my friends when I’m low, just to feel accountable. I make sure I write something basically every day, even if it’s just something like this or a blog post. Writing pulls me free. Like surfacing in an ocean.
What is your relationship to more traditional models of managing illness, like therapy and/or medication? Do you find them effective? Is accessing them an issue for you?
I was in therapy of some sort from January 2007 until June of 2013. Talk therapy was immensely helpful for me. I sought therapy for the first time at college on my own for OCD/anxiety type of behaviors and following a close family member’s multiple suicide attempts.
After I graduated, I found a therapist who did real talk therapy, versus CBT, and I truly believe she saved my life. I saw her from once a week to three times a week for several years until I was unable to continue to pay for her and I aged off my parents’ insurance. I have insurance again thanks to Obamacare, but I don’t think I’m pursuing talk therapy.
I have been on several different medications, never for long periods of time. I had several bad side effects (I’m not naming medications or side effects because I’d rather not scare anyone else away from something that may be lifesaving and I do believe that medication for many people is a lifesaver, including that close family member). I think I could benefit from medication but I am exhausted by the idea of starting with a new psychiatrist and going through the Whole Thing all over again. (I swear this isn’t laziness as much as it’s really honestly draining to go through my story and my truths and everything each time.)
When do you struggle most with self-care? When do you find it easier?
When I’m hypomanic, I’m less likely to do self care because there are things! To do! So many things! Do all the things! Write all the books! Go all the places! Talk about everything! Who has time to slow down? I don’t have time to do that!
When I’m depressed, I’m slow enough to realize that I need to take time for myself. I need to take a long bath. I need to splurge on the good decaffeinated tea. I need to reach out to a friend. It’s probably the only upside of my depressive swings, to be honest. My brain needs to recharge and so does my soul, as kooky as that sounds.
What kind of relationship do you have to your illness? Does how you think about it change the way you live with it?
I’m okay with it. I live with it. I understand now, and it’s taken me a long time to get here, that this is just how I’m wired. It doesn’t mean that I’m bad or weaker or stupider than other people. Self-awareness has helped me maintain friendships and learn how to live in each swing. I’m more aware when I’m moodier and more likely to take things personally so I remind myself that the way I’m experiencing things is through my illness.
What’s most useful for you in terms of support from other people? Is outside support important for you?
I don’t know that outside support as much as understanding and empathy. You don’t have to know what to say or do. There isn’t anything for you to do. You can’t change my brain chemistry. But when I say, “I’m having a horrible day. I woke up depressed,” saying, “I’m sorry” is so much more helpful than, “You need to exercise!” Someone saying that they are there for me if I need to talk is immensely helpful, even if I never take them up on the offer. In fact, I’m highly unlikely to take someone up on the offer which isn’t them, it’s me. But it means so much to have the offer made. It helps me feel accepted. All of me. This is me: my highs and my lows and my lack of middle ground, my eating and my not eating, my anxiety, my absolute thinking, my catastrophizing, my magical thinking. It’s taken me twenty seven years to start to realize that none of this should, or does, make me a lesser person. It’s me. I go to great lengths to make sure that my mood swings affect the people around me as minimally as possible but the people around me going to great lengths to make me feel accepted regardless means the world.
I have no idea if that made any sense.
How do you negotiate the balance between self-care and writing and working?
Can you ask me this again in ten years? I haven’t. I haven’t mastered this balance much less opened negotiations. I try to set a schedule and set rewards for myself (do the laundry, clean the house, shower, eat a meal = read a highly anticipated book type of goals) but I’m still working on this one.
Katherine Locke is a twentysomething Philadelphian (though she’ll remind you that she grew up in the rural ‘burbs, so ‘it doesn’t count. I say water, not wudder’) who has been writing and reading for as long as she can remember. She used to pack four books in the family van just to go to the grocery store. She now writes with her resident cats, and a rotating cast of foster cats, and assures you that she only uses capslock for fangirling. You can find her online at @bibliogato on Twitter, bibliogato on Tumblr, and writingwithcats.wordpress.com.
To be completely original one would have had to a) create language and b) develop the idea of telling a story all by one's lonesome. Short of doing what the Emperor Frederick II did and bring up children without any interaction with other human beings (they all died) to see what language they would speak, this is not really a feasible model.
When we talk of cooking something 'from scratch' we don't actually mean that e.g. we have developed agriculture or at the very least harvested seeds of wild wheats, milled the grain, mixed the flour with water, left the dough out for wild yeasts to start fermenting; or that we have hunted and slaughtered the animal, butchered it, etc etc. What we tend to mean is that we have started from the raw materials already in our cupboards, using the equipment in our kitchen, rather than obtaining readymade.
Even radical gastronomy on the Blumenthal/Feran model doesn't actually commence from a naive premise of let's throw all the ingredients up in the air and see what comes down - it proceeds from a knowledge of existing food science, develops &/or subverts this.
It really helps, rather than hinders, to have a knowledge of what has gone before - cf the recurrent criticism of litfic writers who venture into genre and reinvent the wheel, sometimes as an octagon.
I will also surmise that there are some narrative tropes that have become completely detached from the origin tale, and that there are people churning out Orphan Heroine/Brooding Male/Looming House romances who have never read either Jane Eyre or even Rebecca. If one of them thinks, wow, wouldn't it be cool if his Dark Secret was a mad wife in the attic, is that ripping off Bronte?
Oft, oft have I bemoaned the Failure To Engage With Existing Literature by historians. In this, as in so many fields, it is not actually about dwarfs standing on the shoulders of giants, it is a whole lot of people of more or less standard size making small but significant contributions or new developments as part of a chain, a collective and cumulative endeavour.
Unfortunately, of course, the narrative trope of Amazing Game-Changing Original Discovery persists, it's as hard to kill as the Angel in the House