Dec. 2nd, 2008

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

Colleen is now at a point where it's safe for her to leave the nursing home for up to four hours at a stretch when she's not hooked up to the IV, basically any time between 1:30pm and 8pm. Today I picked her up at 4pm (after collecting the Y.D. at school, since she's suffering from a muscle cramp of unknown etiology and would have found it next to impossible to walk home). She'd been waiting in the lobby with Joyce.

It was good. The house felt right with Colleen sitting in her usual chair; there were laughter and hugs and snuggles. For about half an hour we just lay on the bed with her head on my shoulder -- that's what both of us miss the most. Oddly, it wasn't too hard to take her back, though we left in something of a rush. I sat with her for about 40 minutes and held her hand, and helped her set up her little artificial Christmas tree.

She'll be coming home Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays; she also has an appointment with her gastrointestinal specialist on Thursday. I'll be working from home on Wednesdays; it's the perfect day both because of the amount of errand-running needed and because it's the same day that one of my coworkers works from home.

The only problem with her coming home some afternoons is that people coming to visit her get very confused; happened to her friend Marty today. I may have to print up something for her to put on the bed.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

I was surprised -- actually, shocked might be a better way of putting it -- when I realized was forced to admit last night that I actually do have an interpersonal skill that I seem to be good at and even comfortable with: talking with people, one-on-one. Mostly, I'm a good listener.

It's true that I sometimes presume to offer advice, or bring my analytical ability to bear on some problem that I usually don't know much more about than the person talking with me. And I can often offer an outsider's (or occasionally an alien's) perspective based on my observations of normal humans. But mostly I listen and nod sagely. And offer hugs, or even cuddles when they're asked for. Middle-sized bears are usually, if nothing else, comfortable to be around.

Not surprisingly, it was my "little sister" [livejournal.com profile] pocketnaomi who shattered my carefully-built self-image by making me realize that, in spite of my social awkwardness, my inability to meet people, my inability to notice or drop hints, to understand or control tone of voice or body language, I still seem to be able to carry on an intelligible conversation on subjects of interest to ordinary humans.

Not to mention geeks and musicians -- swapping songs or technical tidbits has always been easy for me.

The ability to talk about, and understand something about, such things as relationships, interpersonal dynamics, mental states, love, and friendship appears to be very new indeed. It still feels deeply weird to have people coming to me and talking about their relationships, and even weirder that they're finding my comments valuable. That's not something I'm used to yet, and I don't have much trust in anything I have to say on those subjects. You shouldn't either.

I think I've been a pretty good listener for a long time. I am, as I believe I've mentioned, shy, self-conscious, and socially inept -- that means that I find it difficult to actually say something except in answer to a question or in response to some remark that gives me an opening. So I spend a lot of time listening.

The only person I can recall who's recently accused me of not listening is Colleen, and that's because, in her personal vocabulary, "you're not listening" really seems to mean something more like "I don't think I got my point across; if you'd been listening you would have understood it and agreed with me." At which point she usually bursts into tears. It may also be because too often she doesn't have my full attention when she says something. You do have to get my attention: bears are easily distracted.

Colleen's firm belief that I'm not listening may also have come about because I seem to have lost the ability for a while couple of decades and she doesn't realize I have it back.

It wouldn't surprise me if it's what attracted her to me in the first place. I've said elsewhere that, for me, relationships are mainly about friendship, and friendship for me is mainly about talking to one another.

I've written upstream, under the title of Friendship and love, that the River is mostly about love and friendship. So, even more fundamentally, it must be about conversation.

Talk to me.

See mood

Dec. 2nd, 2008 10:17 pm
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

It's cold, and I'm lonely.

...and it shouldn't take half an hour or more to make a phone call to somebody friendly, somebody I know well, and make a schedule change for tomorrow. Pathetic.

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