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

Good grief! I shouldn't be surprised -- this happens every time I travel, since I pretty much only post from home. So... It was a good weekend. Lots of solid rehearsal time, and brunch with Chaos on Sunday. Didn't have time to meet up with either of my cousins, unfortunately, but that will probably work better on the next trip, given some time to plan ahead. If I do plan ahead, which I'm afraid is not a given.

It was a rough trip up; I had to get a cab to the airport, the plane was late, and I left my wireless mouse in the terminal somewhere. Put in a lost-and-found inquiry, but don't expect to see it again. Next time I take my wired travel mouse; I don't like it but I'm less likely to lose it.

This was also my first trip with the tennis bag for the travel guitar. It's more comfortable and somewhat lighter than the official gig bag, but doesn't really have enough room for my shoulder bag. A large songbook is pretty marginal. Still figuring out how best to use the space it does have. And it's still looking impossible for me to travel without a checked bag if I want to take a guitar on board. :(

The rehearsal, as I mentioned, went very well indeed. We decided that I should come up for another weekend -- it'll have to be a short one, Friday night to Sunday evening, because I'm running low on vacation time -- in early January. But we're in surprisingly good shape considering the amount of new material in the set. Reminder: you really want to hear our concert at Conflikt.

Another reminder: there's a household party coming up on Saturday!

I also got my netbook, barnard, more-or-less configured with Debian Squeeze; the biggest remaining problem is WiFi. The transition from dhcp3 to isc-dhcp has caused all kinds of havoc; I just realized last night that my router configuration is probably totally wrong at this point, too. No wonder WiFi's been flaky in the house!

Sadness: John McCarthy died on Monday. He was one of my favorite professors at Stanford, not so much because he was a good teacher -- he wasn't -- but because I loved watching the way his mind worked as he worked out programming problems on the board in his LISP class. chipuni posted the perfect epitaph: a single right parenthesis.

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

... what it says about me that I never realized that the last verse of Gentle Arms Of Eden is (or might be construed as being) addressed to a human lover rather than metaphorically to the Goddess.

I didn't see it until [livejournal.com profile] pocketnaomi wrote an intro for our Norwescon gig that blithely assumed it, and had to sit back and boggle at it for a while. Not sure whether I'm slow, or just more than a little sideways.

mdlbear: (flowers for you)
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A very good day. From a little clutter reduction in the morning, to ordering a new netbook for Colleen, to the YD's impressively gorgeous "zed cards", to a st/roll twice around the Rose Garden with Colleen, to making a tasty dinner of chicken piccata and kasha. And ending with a last-minute shopping run, originally just for supplies at Walgreen's. But W. had closed half an hour before, so I ended up at Safeway and impulse-bought a bunch of flowers for Colleen. Go Me! She was surprised and delighted, which delighted me as well.

Sometimes, on the bad days, it's hard to remember that I can have good ones. This was a timely reminder.

mdlbear: (sparkly rose)

A happy Valentine's Day to all my friends.

I especially want to wish a happy Valentine's day to my sister-of-choice Naomi, to Callie and Marty, to my lovely daughters Kat and Emmy, and of course to my oldest and dearest Valentine, Colleen. Today marks our 35th (or maybe 36th) Valentine's Day since we became a couple, and I'm more in love now than ever before.

Here's wishing you all love and happiness in the coming year. It's also Chinese New Year, so wishes for health and prosperity are also in order.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
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A lunchtime shopping expedition got me a good walk. And there was a tasty reception at work for some visiting honchos from other parts of the company (combined with demos and talking about our stuff, of course). And lots and lots of tasty hot links up there above the cut.

On the other hand, Colleen was justifably angry at me for not telling her sooner about a couple of work-related schedule changes, and after she told me to go to bed around 11pm I discovered that there was still a lot to do, and had myself a bit of a meltdown. Again, who knows what? Back pain, frustration, discouragement, resentment, guilt, fear maybe. Not fun. Snuggle worked, and I was able to calm down pretty quickly and tell her so.

Good on the whole, I think, but just barely.

Have to work on my communication skills.

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

[livejournal.com profile] ysabetwordsmith has a good post titled Loneliness and Fraying Social Fabric, that's a followup to [livejournal.com profile] haikujaguar's recent post on loneliness and how it spreads. Lots of good stuff there, and even more in the comments.

She makes some good suggestions. "Restore our support of people who are doing the hard work of sustaining others."... "Practice and teach social skills." "Build the biggest, strongest social network that you can." But they're suggestions for someone like her who knows how to give support, teach social skills, build a social network, and use it effectively.

Trouble is, I'm on both sides of that social chasm. I'm one of those lonely people who never learned many of the social skills they needed -- not because my family was "subfunctional", but more because I've always found it easier to pull back from situations where I had no idea what I was doing. Since we started hanging out together, I've always let Colleen build and maintain the social network -- she has the skills for it.

And now, suddenly, I've been thrown into situations where I'm the one trying to give support, both physical support to Colleen, and emotional support to her and several of my other friends. While groping my way in the dark, having no idea what I'm doing, no idea what support if any is available. I'm learning, but it's slow. Please bear with me. Or something like that.

mdlbear: (hacker glider)

I just realized, while helping Colleen navigate around an unfamiliar part of LJ and teaching her about the "find" feature of her browser, that her attitude around computers was exactly like my attitude around people. ("Attitude" isn't the right word here; I don't know what is. I also tried "situation" and that didn't work either. Emotions? Maybe.)

Anyway: unfamiliar, scary, confusing, frustrating; easy to get into situations that one doesn't know how to get out of without rebooting and losing a lot of context. A lot of terminology that everyone else seems to have absorbed long ago. Inability to explain to someone else what the problem is, because you don't have the right words. The feeling that you're going to break something, or get something hopelessly messed up. The feeling that everything you've done has just made the situation more and more broken, messed up, and hopeless.

The difference is that computers are infinitely patient, totally consistent, mostly comprehsible, and don't go into a feedback loop when you panic or get stuck.

(23:18) [livejournal.com profile] pocketnaomi quite rightly points out that what she and Colleen feel about computers is exactly as valid as what I feel about people, and adds a list of differences that are almost a perfect mirror-image of mine:

To me, the difference is that people are able to catch imprecise statements and translate them in their own minds into precise ones. You don't HAVE to do absolutely everything right with people... doing them marginally close is usually good enough. With computers, there are only two options: 100% perfection and absolute failure. If you don't do EVERYTHING right, it will block you again and again and again. It has no pity or compassion, no willingness to meet you halfway or help out when you are exhausted from trying.

I think the problem on both sides is that I'm trying to think about people the way I think about computers, and "people people" like Naomi and Colleen think about computers the way they think about people. It's the natural, obvious thing to do, and it's equally wrong in both directions.

We're both learning.

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

A somewhat delayed insight from a comment Naomi made to me in IM when I told her that I didn't have a social life in high school: all this time I've been defining "social life" in a way that focussed on dating and other activities where the point was to have or find a romantic partner.

I've also been very shy, for as long as I can remember, so of course I didn't have one, by that definition. I did have some fairly close (male) friends. But that didn't count, by that definition.

Even now, what I've been calling my "social life" (what there is of it) consists mostly of the handful of parties I go to, and things I do with Colleen. I don't think of conventions, late-night conversations, song-swapping sessions and filk circles as part of a "social life".

Silly old Bear.

Fortunately, my background in science and software makes me familiar with the idea that changing the way you describe a problem can drastically simplify it or even make it go away. It's never too late for a paradigm shift.

Not that knowing that I had a social life after all would have helped me get dates...

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
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Yesterday was a pretty good day; a nice way to put me back into the groove of "done" posts.

I got in a proper walk, and a fair amount of actual work.

"Date night" consisted of a huge salad and leftovers at home, followed by a pleasant drive, and ended up in bed with a particularly sensual cuddle. I slept very soundly, for once.

 

Today's link sausage includes the Karmic Koala release of Ubuntu, and Scott McCloud's comic about Google Chrome.

Some of my poly friends might be interested in [livejournal.com profile] theferrett's recent three-part series. The middle one, The Vital Skill Of Jealousy - is particularly interesting and a little more generally applicable than the others.

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

Me: Bones ache while they're mending. So do hearts.

...

Me: Trust an old woodworker on this: glue is tougher than wood or glass. The more pieces something is broken into, the stronger it's going to be when you put it back together.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
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It was a long day spent mostly at work, with only a short walk (I got a call from Callie, and decided there was no point hanging around the office when I could get a better signal on top of the hill outside.) But I got my demo working, finally, a little after 7pm.

The fact that it took so long was entirely my fault for not remembering which saved version of the software was the working one. I could have sworn that the one in the main working directory had been hacked up and broken after the last demo. In fact, it was the reverted, working version and only needed a couple of last-minute fixups. :(

But it did work, finally, so I was able to come home relieved and happy. Marty was waitng at the door with a glass of gin, though I insisted on putting my laptop down and collecting hugs first, before sitting down to a drink and dinner. Yummy meatloaf made by the YD, and a kitchen-sink salad by Colleen.

We went to bed around 11ish, snuggled for a while... then I woke up around 2:30 to find a wakeful Colleen reading beside me. I brought my netbook in (and was delighted to find Pidgin working -- I win). Reading, snuggle, love, conversation... and the utter decadence of English muffins and marmalade in bed at 3-something in the morning. I finally did get back to sleep, and got up around 9am.

A productive day, a good evening, and a lovely bonus night. Happy Bear.

mdlbear: (xkcd-boomdeyada)

This xkcd strip is almost certainly all too true for me. Probably for a lot of people reading this.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
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Hmm. After taking out the summaries of a couple of long but private conversations, there isn't a whole lot left. I spent almost all of the evening out in the living room, mostly geeking about Linux and programming languages with various people. A lot of the regulars weren't there, but [livejournal.com profile] andyheninger showed up, which is rare. We go way back; he was a coworker at both AMI and Zilog.

The other conversations were mostly about the problems that Colleen was having over the weekend around feeling excluded, and more generally the way she falls apart when things aren't going her way. It's taken me a long time and a lot of help to both understand a little about what her problem is, and to understand that it's her problem, not mine. That was the hardest part -- my natural tendency is to blame myself for anything that goes wrong.

Many thanks to [livejournal.com profile] pocketnaomi for finding the perfect word for "the way she falls apart". Once Colleen heard it she understood much more clearly what was going on and what she needs to do about it. I've seen that same look of determination quite recently, when she's been stretching her physical limits. She said something to the effect of: "I have 35 years of bad behavior to unlearn... You'll have to kick me in the ass when I need it. And I'll kick you in the ass about your problems."

So it's a deal. And I have to credit Colleen not only for her understanding and willingness to change, but for giving me the perfect straight line I needed to drive the point home: "You never have that kind of conversation with me." "I'd love to, but I can't -- you keep falling apart."

During the afternoon Colleen and Marty made huge progress re-arranging the sewing corner based on my realization in the morning that it would work better if the sewing machine got moved from the North wall (the window facing the driveway) to the East along the large window that faces the porch and the street. The front window is enough wider that it actually fits, and the rolling storage units that were crowded into the space in front of the built-in shelves are now neatly arranged along the corner wall. Impressive.

Along the way Marty also completely re-arranged the front closet, making it an actual walk-in, with all the contents accessible. And Colleen went through four boxes and sorted the contents. Wow!!

A somewhat tiring day and a little rough in places, but any day when you get a breakthrough on a major problem is a good one. Add the sewing corner and the closet, and it was a very good day indeed.

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

(15:11:26) ***mandelbear sighs. Relationships are hard. _People_ are hard. There are times when I miss not trying to understand them.

 

Believing that I wasn't "good with" people, and shouldn't bother trying to understand them because I couldn't, was a rather dysfunctional coping mechanism in a lot of ways. But I was coping, sort of. I'm doing better in many ways now, but sometimes it's more discouraging to know that I'm just not getting it.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
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The weather was cool and a little rainy in the morning; I drove through a couple of patches of gentle but steady rain on the way to work. My coworker M was still working on his side of the demo (the client side) right up until the 10am dry run, and managed to get a 3x speedup by clever caching. My side (the server) worked just fine.

After the dry run I felt oddly down -- weather, worries, or reaction? It's hard to tell; probably a mixture. M and I talked and agreed that we were both nervous, and that epidurals are scary.

Spent a contented hour walking in the warm sunlight and being guardedly optimistic. The demo went off perfectly. M and I just sat there watching while the Boss and Grandboss ran through it with the visiting HeadHoncho-san.

Our scheduled date night took us to Menlo Park, and a nice little Italian restaurant next to Kepler's bookstore. Which roughly tripled the price of the evening's entertainment, but... Bookstore. I had eggplant parmesano; Colleen had a cucumber/tomato/celery salad and gnocci. We split a plate of breaded-and-broiled oysters. Very much to yum.

We snuggled and talked for over an hour after going to bed. Colleen was also thinking of Amy on Tuesday, and I learned that she had been up and down five stairs during her PT appointment.

We decided, with considerable regret, that we'd have to go to Loscon rather than Orycon this year (a major grump to those who moved Orycon into conflict). Colleen missed it last year, and with Kat in Seattle it will probably be our last Loscon; there are people there whose health is fragile enough that it may well be the last time we see them. *sigh*

A good day, ending on a slightly down but tender and loving note.

Link sausage:

From Linux Gazette, Cisco's WRT160NL, a Linux-based 802-11N router with a USB port. 100baseT ethernet, though, so you can't really use it as a NAS. I'll probably stick with my collection of assorted MiniITX boards.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
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I'm glad I went to DC to visit my brother and family, but also very glad to be home. As it turned out, I really needed the vacation. I hadn't noticed how close to the edge I was until I stepped back far enough to see it.

I missed having a guitar a couple of times, but it probably wouldn't have been worth the extra luggage-wrangling to take Plink. On the trip back I put the rolly up in the overhead rack and used the little duffle under the seat -- that worked much better. The rolly is just a little too big to go under an aisle seat. I don't think it would be possible to play that game with a guitar.

It's good to be home.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
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Snuggled up in Colleen's arms is a great way to start the morning. Unfortunately it was mostly downhill from there. I woke up with a sore, stiff neck (basically unchanged from the day before), and took a cyclobenzaprine (muscle relaxant), which didn't help much. That probably had something to do with the fact that I felt slightly groggy all day, as well as sore.

My walk was, again, more scatterbrained than mindful, but at least I seem to be noticing that more. I was also walking more slowly than usual, the way I do when I'm depressed. I probably am. A lot of tension and stress right now. I'm hoping that, if I can make it past the demo next Thursday, I'll be ok.

I got a fair amount done at work; that's a good thing, because the weekend is going to be mostly a write-off. Yes, I'll be able to take a laptop along and work, but hopefully it'll just be cosmetics at that point. The Big Scary Feature (TM) has to be in this week.

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

I've mentioned verbal tags or keywords before; "snapdragon" and "Basingstoke" for example. Another one, a little more recent, is "meow". (Colleen is also known as the Cheshire Cat -- it fits.)

"Meow" basically means "come over here and hug me or kiss me as soon as you have a chance." It's something that Colleen can say any time, in any company, without being embarrassed and without embarrassing me. Useful.

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

Colleen has gone to bed early, after spending most of the day dozing in her chair and recovering from what appears to have been a stomach bug. I'm feeling calm, but a little lonely.

I need to get back to my River posts soon. (There are some other things I need to get back to, including website work and some long-delayed upgrades, but I'll talk about those in a separate post or three.) It's been a long time, and there have been developments (both in my life and others') that ought to be mentioned, and a big backlog of articles, some on topics that I hadn't even thought of half a year ago.

It's time.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
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Another good day. I realized, during a late-evening IM conversation with N, that I need to start responding to "How are you doing?" questions with "OK" now, rather than the "Surviving" that I've been using for the last week or so.

There was also a point in that conversation when I laughed, and noticed that I was laughing. That felt rather odd.

Another odd thing was realizing that some people may be coming to our parties and our Wednesday open houses to see me rather than Colleen. That was rather disturbing, since it indicated yet another multi-decade blind spot in my self-image.

The insight of the day was realizing that my loathing of sports extends to a strong dislike of competition in general. I seem to have a deep feeling that good people should work together, not compete or fight.

It was a very good day for Colleen: she went out shopping (and came home in between for a bathroom break), and walked out to the car both times, and back to the house once. The first time, the car was on the street and she was able to step down off the curb.

This is huge: it's the first time she's actually walked outside the house since the day of her surgery at the end of February.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
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Lots of good things about yesterday, though mainly good in the sense of worse things avoided. I guess the one I'm most pleased about that I actually did was calling the person in charge of the caregiver support group at Kaiser, and signing up. That's pretty big, considering my usual problems with phone calls. I also spent several hours at work writing real code. Hopefully I'll get it running today.

Colleen had a PT appointment at Kaiser; it ate up the entire morning and part of the afternoon, so I ended up walking up and down the four flights of stairs three times instead of taking my usual walk. From the way my knees were feeling by the end of it I'd guess I got my exercise.

Colleen appears to be in pretty good shape, considering. I hadn't realized how much progress she'd made in the past couple of weeks. She still needs to walk more, though, and has started taking steps in that direction.

Her digestive system still isn't back to normal, but she's making progress.

I'm not all that happy about having to go to bed at 10pm, but I'm happy about the time spent cuddling.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
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Again, a pretty good day. I'm not sure what's making the difference, but I'm not complaining. Colleen and I are starting to think about ways of taking some of the caregiving and errand-running load off of me (see comments on this post in particular). I expect to be posting more about this later.

The short version, though, is that she's going to be shifting a lot of the grocery shopping to Safeway's online store, and holding a Ladies' Sewing Circle and Terrorist Society meeting on Tuesday nights to give me some time off.

Colleen went off to San Francisco in the afternoon with Marty and Ali to a 50%-off sale on Britex's remnant floor. I'm delighted -- she had fun, and came back happy and unharmed, and planning additional fabric-oriented mayhem. (See previous paragraph.)

The "Being Mindful" group finally started up at Kaiser. (For those not into the latest psychobabble, it's about the theraputic version of Buddhist meditation techniques aimed at achieving mindfulness: a "mental state, characterized by calm awareness of one's body functions, feelings, content of consciousness, or consciousness itself.") Mindfulness looks like a useful addition to my mental toolkit, and I'm starting to try to apply it. (Tag: zen.)

Finding a support group for caregivers may take a little more work; there's one at Kaiser, but the description is specific to caregivers of Alzheimer's patients.

And the YD made dinner -- the chicken was OK and a trifle underdone; the roasted zucchini slices drizzled with olive oil and maple syrup were surprising and wonderful!

I don't think I mentioned it at the time, but [livejournal.com profile] artbeco's gorgeous Amethyst Rose card that I ordered from her Etsy shop arrived a couple of days ago. Wow.

Good conversations, a little silliness, a happy Cat, and snuggle. Yeah, a pretty good day.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
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A pretty good day. Walked for nearly an hour (feeling a little stiff from the weekend after not having walked much for weeks). And I got in an hour and a half or so of just plain quiet snuggle in bed: the original plan had been for me to hold Colleen until she went to sleep, and then get up and work on something in the office. About midnight we just kissed and went to sleep.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
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A pretty good day -- a lot got done in terms of getting the house ready for guests. I didn't do it, of course: Colleen's sister-by-choice Marty did.

I did get a good start on lead sheets for Tempered Glass's new songs, and got a couple of phone calls made.

I also found out that there are other people who, like me, don't seem to be able to "fall in love" the way most people do. It didn't really hit me until later that, wow! I'm not the only one. From what I've seen lately it may be difficult for such people to have normal relationships, not because they don't love their partners, but because they're not sending the right signals at the start.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
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The day was mostly busy, and there was a rough spot, but it began and ended well.

The high point, I think, was taking Colleen to the Baycon meeting; she proudly rolled in on Rosebud and had a blast. I spoke to various people about programming, and asked for a timeslot at the signing table for me and Callie. Must remember to take stock.

The day's shopping expedition took a long time, but I got the house needed in the way of supplies. Also a Behringer 1204FX mixer, mainly for live gigs like Thursday's at White Blossom. The guy at Guitar Showcase disparaged the sound, but it'll do fine for live gigs and practice sessions. It came with a (separate, 2-channel, 16-bit) USB interface. :P By using the second bus, you can actually get four straight outputs for recording; that may come in handy sometime.

While I was out shopping, Colleen's friend Marty re-arranged and cleaned Kat's room and the hallway. There's a substantial amount of room in Kat's room now: the desk and most of the closet are usable, with enough room for a double bed on the floor between them. Amazing.

I overloaded badly while making dinner. I was working on making leftovers into chili, but when Colleen started getting upset because she couldn't help, I made the mistake of asking what she wanted instead of starting with a hug. She asked for salad, which we really needed but represented a change in direction. Justin came downstairs just as we were sitting down with our salad to ask whether dinner was ready; I snapped at him. Not a good evening.

It ended well, though, with a couple of hours together in a quiet living room (on separate laptops). A loveseat would be tempting, but wouldn't be as comfortable for Colleen as the powered recliner, and would probably be too cramped for computing.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
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Colleen started using loperamide; it seems to be making some difference now, but the main effect yesterday was relieving some of the tension by giving me the feeling that Something was being done.

I basically spent the entire evening with Colleen: drinks (well, gin and olives on the side for me, just olives for her), dinner, and conversation. Then we went to bed early, about 10:30, and continued the conversation until we both went happily to sleep. It was the most relaxed, comfortable, happy time I've had in the last three weeks, at least. Maybe the last six months. Maybe more.

QOTD

May. 9th, 2009 10:26 am
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

Colleen: "You're my purrrrrrrrfect Bear and I love you."

Me: "You're purrrrrrrrrplexing, but I love you anyway."

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

It just occurred to me that maybe Colleen's constant complaint of "you're not listening" might mean something like "I was expecting some kind of emotional reaction from you, but all I got was a logical reaction or a question."

The emotional reaction might be something like sympathy or agreement; I don't know. The question is usually a baffled request for clarification; the logical reaction is often a response to what her words actually meant rather than the thought she was trying to express.

Or maybe it sometimes just means "you didn't say what I was expecting you to say."

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
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Not much to say about most of yesterday. The walk, though, was great. One of my neighbors down the street had just installed a ramp, and I saw him getting out of his car and asked about it. Turns out it was installed along with a scooter under workman's compensation. The price was probably out of my range unless insurance was paying for it, unfortunately.

Shortly after that, I got an unexpected call from [livejournal.com profile] pocketnaomi. Had a good conversation, and she helped me clarify my thinking on dissociation. Yes, it probably blocks out positive emotions as well as negative ones. More on that later, perhaps.

We went to bed early, and slept pretty well. I don't think either of us is really caught up.

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

Both Colleen and I are doing much better today than we were last night. Much better, as in optimistic and basically contented with the progress she's making. Nice thing about Good Drugs -- they make it a lot easier to bounce back after bad news. Yeah, we were depressed last night -- who wouldn't be, after finding out that she wasn't coming home until next week instead of this Friday? But we're OK now.

Her left knee is still weak -- it may never come all the way back to useability; she's going to get fitted with a brace in case it doesn't. (That was my idea, BTW.) We're going to practice getting in and out of the van today. She just started with the commode yesterday; I am not going to be able to cope unless she can take care of herself. And so on.

Not to mention that now I have time to get the bedroom cleaned up and maybe even get the carpets steam-cleaned. Right now I've made significant progress, but there are boxes and bags of stuff everywhere, and I haven't even started on the desks.

Did I mention that I still have to clean the guest room and launder the sheets and pillowcases? That, too: the lovely [livejournal.com profile] jenkitty is arriving Friday afternoon. And with Colleen able to get out on 4-hour passes, we'll still have the opportunity for lunches or dinners out.

So,... at this point, relief and optimism have trumped depression and despair. I'm not complaining.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
to.done 20090411 )

It was a very good day.

At [livejournal.com profile] pocketnaomi's suggestion we took Plink and a copy of Rise Up Singing on our visit to Colleen, and Naomi wore the sundress that Colleen had told her to pick out. Colleen was delighted, and said that the dress looked "better on you than on me" -- which is quite true; the colors suit Naomi very well. We sang the songs that we felt best about from our song swap Friday night: "Get Up and Go", "The Fox", and "Golden Vanity".

The high point of the visit, though, was sticking around for the start of Colleen's session in physical therapy. We watched her use the sliding board to get into the wheelchair, and stand up three times (she apparently stood seven more times after we left). The first time, especially, she looked stunning, with her hair down, a triumphant grin, and what Naomi later called "victory in her eyes". She showed some strain the next two times, but still looked fiercely determined.

The PT asked whether Naomi was our daughter (she's the right age for it); I said "No, she's my sister" without a moment's hesitation. I think it was the first time I've said that in public outside my LJ; thinking about it makes me happy in a way that I find impossible to explain right now.

We went to the Rose Garden after that; Naomi had never seen it in bloom. A nice ramble at random around the flowerbeds. Not an exercise walk by any means, but pleasant.

Naomi and I spent most of the afternoon shopping; our exploration of the huge Whole Foods in Cupertino was a spur-of-the-moment thing after a discussion of pickled mushrooms.

We went out to dinner at an Indian restaurant, Spicy Leaves in Los Altos. It's located where Bombay Cafe (my original destination) used to be, across San Antonio from Chef Chu's. Delicious, and a pleasant way to end a busy but fun afternoon.

In the evening I went to see Colleen again, taking the YD who I met on the sidewalk coming back from a walk to the Rose Garden.

And I finished the tax data entry for store receipts; now all I have left is travel and a pass through the AMEX year-end summaries. Still far behind with too little time, but getting there.

A nice, low-key, but happy and contented day.

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

I'm a loner, maybe not by nature and not by choice, but I got used to it. I think it took me two or three decades to learn what Colleen knew from the start: that the safest place in the world is in my lover's arms.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
to.done 20090326 )

Today I was much less anxious than yesterday; Colleen seemed upbeat and rather determined in the morning, and I felt very clearly that she was supporting me emotionally rather than the other way around. I'm loved, and sometimes I lose sight of that fact.

I made a 45-minute follow-up call to Alice, the Kaiser case manager; I got answers to most of my questions, and she'll check into the few remaining ones. I realized rather late in the game that some of my items were simply venting rather than anything productive.

I caught up with Colleen in the afternoon in the surgery clinic at Kaiser, where she had her PICC line and staples removed. She's healing well. She also said that she'd gone from about 15% leg strength on Wednesday to 35% yesterday, and had actually gotten to a standing position out of the wheelchair. Determined indeed.

A delightful IM with and phone call to my sister-of-choice, [livejournal.com profile] pocketnaomi. The weirdest thing was saying something like "/me attempts to send you energy over IM" and having it work. Yay for friendship and the placebo effect, but it still felt weird.

Replaced a proposed but now basically impossible trip to Norwescon with flying [livejournal.com profile] cflute and [livejournal.com profile] pocketnaomi down here for music and hanging out; the timing's a lot better and it'll be far less expensive. And best of all I'll have more time with my friends, and Colleen will have time with them whether or not she's home by then.

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

This post by [livejournal.com profile] ysabetwordsmith.

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

I'm beginning to wonder whether my (now-crumbling) assumption that I lack social skills is simply due to the fact that for most of my life I haven't been social with more than a very limited number of people.

And I think Colleen, who's one of the few people I do interact with socially and is in a position to give me valuable feedback, simply gave up long ago trying to reach me. (added 3/4) In any case, I don't get feedback or calibration from real people in a real social situation: I have no idea what I'm doing wrong, or what cues I'm missing.

I've always been shy, and afraid to interact much with people I don't know. I seem to have lost a lot of that fear in the last year or so, but not all of it, and the habits are still there.

My biggest problem may still be getting an interaction started. Starting a conversation with a stranger; making a phone call to anyone, joining a conversation in progress.

On the other hand I may just be too tired to make sense -- my brain is pretty seriously fried tonight.

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

This is largely a continuation of the discussion I started in Friendship and love a long while ago. You should probably go read it soon. It was getting long, had been in the queue for altogether too long, and I had a particular reason for posting it when I did. But it wasn't the end of the story by any means. This post has been in the queue even longer by now, and it looks as though there will still be more to say. But Valentine's Day seemed like a good excuse to finally post it.

Unlike F&L, which was mainly about the emotion of love and what the word means, this post is about talking about love, and in particular talking about it between friends. I don't have a whole lot of experience in this department -- in fact, I'm so far out of my depth that I can't touch bottom -- so if you have anything to add or to correct in this one, please do. It could probably also stand a thorough going-over to see whether I still believe anything I say in it. It won't get it.

So, is it love? Should we talk about it?

You know, if you have to ask either question, the answer is probably "yes." Well, if I have to ask either question--I don't know how it is for you.

The first one is pretty easy, at least with my definition of love as an emotional relationship worth taking seriously. If the question comes up at all, you're taking the relationship seriously enough to call it "love", at least to a first approximation. It probably won't come up unless one of you has recognized some of the symptoms of falling in love (the subject of a future post, perhaps). How do you refine that approximation? Ask your friend for help.

(As an aside, I think that missing your friend -- thinking about them when they're not around, wondering whether they'll call, feeling happy when they do -- is a good indication that that there's enough of an emotional connection to be worth at least talking about and clarifying.)

You'll notice I'm assuming that you are friends. If not, start by becoming friends, unless all you're looking for is a whirlwind romance that's likely to end quickly and perhaps painfully. I don't have any advice for you in that case.

The second one is even easier, especially if your friend has just started the conversation. You need to talk about it.

I'm also assuming that one of you is a geek.

I'm using "geek" here to mean someone a lot like me: someone not very in touch with their feelings. We geeks tend to be shy, inexperienced, and socially awkward, though there are exceptions and some of us hide a core of deep shyness under a veneer of superficial friendliness. We have trouble expressing ourselves in social situations and especially in relationships. We tend to be very analytical (as you can see), and prefer to overanalyze social situations rather than diving in and going on intuition. We either don't have much in the way of intuition, or don't trust it. We can't "read" other people, and have to rely on analysis again to figure out what the other person in a conversation is thinking or feeling. We don't understand people very well.

I could also have used the term "loner", as I did a few weeks months ago. Perhaps even "introvert". No matter. If you see yourself or your friend in that description, I'm talking to you.

If neither of you fits very much of this description, go for it, and have fun. I probably can't help you much except to say "be friends first." If you're in touch with your feelings but tend to have trouble expressing them, you can probably proceed as if you're a geek; that's pretty much where I am these days -- a recovering geek who's trying to figure out this whole "being human" thing.

The remaining three cases might be better analyzed by thinking about which end of the conversation you're on: are you a geek trying to talk to your friend about your love for them, or are you a non-geek trying to talk to a geek about your love for them? Or, in the third case, are you a geek with a friend who says they love you? Are you a geek in love, in love with a geek, or a loved geek?

We'll take those in reverse order, which also turns out to be in order of increasing difficulty. Did I mention that we geeks tend to be analytical?

Are you a loved geek?

This one is easy, because your friend has already done the hard part and started the conversation. You're loved. Cool!

Now you have to take a good look at your feelings, which isn't exactly easy, but let's face it: you've been given a broad hint about where to start looking. It may take a while to figure it out, but that's OK. The main things to remember are that you're friends, and friends like to talk to one another, and you're a geek, and geeks like to figure things out. It may be a very different conversation than you're used to, and a very different problem from any you've solved before. Nothing wrong with that.

It's not that simple, of course. This may be a completely new experience. Even if you've had people fall in love with you before it probably came out of nowhere, from someone you thought of as "just a good friend". You're going to have to totally re-think that relationship.

If the person who asked is not a geek -- and they probably aren't, considering -- this is probably as new and weird an experience for them as it is for you. Maybe weirder. They may not realize that you're totally unlike anyone they've ever fallen in love with before.

You need to recognize that they probably haven't thought it through -- they're going on intuition. They may be terribly disappointed if you don't immediately say that you love them back, or if where you'd like to see the relationship going is different from where they see it going.

Tough. This might take a while.

You're going to have to figure out what you mean by love. We geeks don't always have "falling in love" as a guide -- if you didn't hear bells and choirs of angels when your friend said "I love you", don't worry. I'd been married to Colleen for years before I had anything approximating that feeling.

I've also had the fascinating experience of falling in love without realizing it at first, and taking even longer to figure out just who I had fallen in love with. It's going to be hard for your friend to understand just how unsure you are of your feelings. Talk it over.

Are you in love with a geek?

(I'm assuming you're the non-geek in this conversation. Otherwise it reduces to the next case.)

If you're waiting for your geek to start the conversation, to say they love you, don't hold your breath. Seriously: even if they know they love you back, they're probably too shy to say anything. And they probably don't know. You may be dead certain that they love you, but they aren't likely to have even thought about it until you speak up.

Don't hint, either. They won't notice. They can't read people the way you can. You're going to have to be direct.

Bear in mind that this is probably going to be at least as weird an experience for you as it is for them. Maybe weirder -- it's entirely possible that your geek has had relationships with non-geeks before. You probably haven't.

If you're comfortable saying "I love you" to someone you've fallen in love with, you're probably used to getting an instant response: either a quick "Oh, I love you too!" or an equally quick and hopefully gentle rejection. You're probably not used to bafflement, stunned silence, or outright fear. You've probably never heard someone say "I have no idea what that means." Brace yourself.

The geek you've fallen in love with might well find that they love you without having "fallen in love" at all. Or they might not have any idea what love is -- the prevailing cultural myths and assumptions about love don't apply to them. Figuring it all out is going to take time. Maybe months. Maybe longer.

Hang on to your friendship. That's your lifeline, your connection. Work with your friend on figuring out what your relationship is, and where it wants to go. Don't get too hung up on whether you both call it "love" -- that's not the important thing. The important thing is to figure out what you both want. I'll get back to that.

Are you a geek in love?

If you have to start the conversation -- if you love your friend but they haven't said anything about loving you -- things may get a little complicated. Maybe not -- it's possible that they love you too, and simply were too shy to say so. In that case, the game's over: you both win. Keep talking.

(There are lots of reasons why your friend might not have said anything. Maybe they're a geek too, and simply hadn't noticed or hadn't thought about the possibility. Or maybe, especially if they're not a geek, you simply didn't fit the "person in love" pattern they're used to. They don't realize that the "falling in love" part may be optional for you, or that you've gotten good at hiding your emotions, sometimes even from yourself. But it doesn't matter: you're talking.)

It's also possible that your friend doesn't love you, or hadn't thought about the possibility, or simply has such a different idea of love that they can't wrap their head around your version. It's important to remember that, in that case, you still have your friendship. And what's more, you're talking about your friendship.

Of course, that means you have to start talking. That's the hard part. It's also the part of this discussion where I have the least experience.

My friend [livejournal.com profile] pocketnaomi occasionally speaks of "my habit of throwing my heart over a wall and jumping after it" -- and of sometimes having to haul it back by main force and worry about how many pieces got left behind. She's very shy, but she isn't a geek -- she knows where she wants her heart to go.

My own experience is more like having my heart dive off a cliff and wait at the bottom -- sometimes whimpering plaintively, sometimes making silly faces at me where I can't see it but everybody else can -- until I finally figure out where it went and summon the courage to dive after it. My main worry is whether I'll land on top of it and squash it flat.

Usually my friend throws me a rope; jumping off on my own would be scary. I think the biggest fear is whether saying something about love would damage the ongoing friendship. All I can say is that it probably wouldn't. It never has, when someone said it to me, or when I've said it to someone else.

Hmm. I think there's a lot to say here, but in the near-total absence of any recent experience, I'm probably not the one to be giving advice.

I do know this: you can't start exploring without starting the journey. If you don't start, you're always going to wonder where it would have taken you.

What do we talk about?

Mostly, you have to talk about what your relationship is, and where you want it to go, not what to call it.

Yes, one of you might feel more strongly connected than the other. One of you might even be willing to call that connection "love", while the other continues to insist that's it's merely deep friendship. One of you might have fallen in love, or noticed the symptoms, while the other hasn't even considered it as a possibility. Very likely, speaking from my own experience. But how can one really tell? Is it a difference of emotion, or of committment, or merely of personal terminology?

You have to ask questions like "What do you mean by {love, romance, friendship}?" "What do you want out of this relationship?" If you're starting the conversation, you should have at least preliminary answers ready.

Again, this is something that I have no recent experience with, though I can speculate. More later, perhaps.

mdlbear: (sparkly rose)

Nothing like starting Valentine's Day well-loved in bed at midnight, being greeted at one's desk in the morning by a box of one's favorite dark chocolates in the hands of a beautiful, naked woman, and breakfasting on left-over gluten-and-nightshade-free crab lasagna.

I hope you're having a good one, too.

33 1/3

Feb. 11th, 2009 12:01 pm
mdlbear: (sparkly rose)

It's a nice, cool, rainy day out; fortunately I got a short walk in this morning. But it gives me an excuse to spend lunchtime at my desk and update my LJ...

... which is important, because exactly 33 1/3 years ago I accepted Colleen's proposal of marriage.

I've done a lot of things I've regretted over the last four decades, but that has never been one of them.

Happy anniversary, Love!

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

Note: This is one of two River posts that have existed as completed, ready-to-post drafts since mid-September. They kept getting postponed for various reasons, and put on hold when things fell apart in November. I'd like to get them out there before the somewhat arbitrary date of February 13, which is when I posted "The River" and, in essence, started this whole wild ride.

Anyway...

While researching Friendship and Love I was particularly interested in relationships that were somewhere in the wide space between simple friendship and romantic love (or whatever you choose to call "love with all the emotional and erotic trimmings". Naturally this includes platonic love and romantic friendship. (It also includes familial love, which is what I feel not only for my actual kin but for the many people who are my chosen kin -- that sounds like a good subject for another post downstream, because chosen kin are important in my life. A hint: if I ever call you "sweetie", it means I'm probably thinking of you as one of my chosen children.)

I also ran across the intriguing concept of an emotional affair:

An "emotional affair" is an affair excluding sexual intimacy but including emotional intimacy. It may be a type of chaste nonmonogamy, one without consummation. When the affair breaches a monogamous agreement with one or another spouse the term infidelity may be more apt. Infidelity tends to exclude one or both spouses of the affair's partners. Citing the absence of any sexual activity can neutralize the sense of extramarital wrongdoing by one or both partners of an emotional affair.

Emotional affairs can be portrayed in fictional writing or drama as life changing experiences (good or bad), subjects of racy romance stories that teeter on the edge. However, they can also be catastrophic for all concerned when it is clandestine, unsanctioned and unintentionally exposed.

Sometimes an emotional affair injures a committed relationship more than if it were a one night stand or about casual sex.

Um... yes. What they said, there.

I know from direct experience that an emotional affair can be every bit as damaging as a sexual affair -- perhaps more so because (as in my case) it might not be recognized as an affair until the damage has been done. A little about this can be found in my earlier post, The Silicon Mistress. There's more to it, of course: there was a real person on the other end of the IM wire. Now that I have a name for it, I understand that, in any sense that really matters, I was having an affair.

The potential for damage isn't even confined to monogamous relationships, or to clandestine affairs -- this was an already-approved relationship that got far out of hand because I was too stupid to listen to the two women involved. (If they'd been able to talk to one another and gang up on me the whole thing probably would have ended very differently and much more happily; there were, unfortunately, problems that prevented it.) And it wasn't so much a matter of neutralizing "the sense of wrongdoing" as my not realizing that anything was wrong in the first place.

Going forward, I think the trick will be recognizing when a friendship has reached the emotional point at which it's necessary to talk about where it's going, and to recognize that at exactly that point, if not before, it's necessary to check in with Colleen and make sure that she is OK with where it's going. And the same on the other side, of course. In other words, to treat any friendship deep and close enough to qualify as a form of "love" -- deep enough to be worth taking seriously and talking about -- as a form of polyamorous relationship whether or not romance or sex has even been thought about.

It will also help to make sure that Colleen and the other woman are talking to one another -- that they're already friends, or well on the way to becoming friends before things go much further. (In most cases that's a given; Colleen makes friends more easily than I do.) A relationship, at least for me, is mostly an ongoing conversation; fortunately, Colleen and I seem to be mostly comfortable talking about our friendships these days.

The situation hasn't come up again, but given my new-found capacity for emotion and near-total lack of experience handling it, it wouldn't surprise me if it did. I don't want to be surprised by it again, because I want things to stay under control. It's good to have someone to talk to about it.

mdlbear: (audacity)

It happens pretty often when I'm driving in unfamiliar territory: I make a wrong turn, say something grumpy, and the first thing Colleen says to me is "don't panic" in a rather frightened voice. The next thing you know I'm shouting at her that I'm not in a panic, just frustrated, and she's shouting back or in tears. It's a feedback loop. She expects me to panic, and everything I say to assure her that I'm not only reinforces her belief that I am.

It happened again a couple of days ago: I was in the middle of a rather ticklish task amid both distractions and knee pain; I dropped something and... I'm not sure whether she actually said anything to try to calm me down, or just gave me a look that I interpreted as being upset. I tried to calm her down, which made her more upset, and I lost it. Feedback.

You've heard it in concerts: all of a sudden there's an intolerably loud whistling sound, and somebody yells "turn down the gain!". The sound guy turns a knob, and there's blessed silence again. If he's really good, and he really needs that gain, he'll adjust a notch filter to take out the one frequency in that room that's ringing.

Positive feedback (in the engineering sense -- they may be negative emotions, but the level increases and that's what makes it positive feedback) happens in any closed-loop system with a gain greater than one. The signal gets reinforced each time it goes around the loop, and all of a sudden you have an earsplitting shriek.

It doesn't take two people, of course. "I'm too nervous: I'm going to screw this up... See, my hands are shaking... Oh, shit!" But having two people in the loop almost inevitably brings up the question of who's responsible for it?

The correct answer is that it doesn't matter. You have a system with two amplifiers and positive gain: the only meaningful question to ask is which gain control is within reach, and how do you turn it. After that, if you need a little more gain, you ask who has the better-tuned filters.

If you have some magic phrase or agreed-on keyword like "calm down", or "safeword", or "Basingstoke" that you can use to get the other person to reduce their gain, use it. A hug, if possible in the situation, might calm both of you down. But in most cases, it's your own gain control that's within easy reach. Use that. What works for me is to take a deep breath, shut up!, and either put some more space between us or go on with whatever I was doing but calmly and without trying to say anything to make things better. Your mileage may vary.

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

This one's about the languages of love. No, not the Romance languages, despite their suggestive name and the fact that both French and Italian lay claim to the appellation. I'm talking about The Five Love Languages -- Dr. Gary Chapman's hypothesis that

unhappiness in relationships is often due to the fact that we speak different love languages. Sometimes we don't understand our partner's requirements, or even our own. We all have a "love tank" that needs to be filled in order for us to express love to others, but there are different means by which our tank can be filled, and there are different ways that we can express love to others. Dr. Chapman's divides love languages into five categories: Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service, and Physical Touch.

There's a good summary of the languages here on Chapman's website, but a much better way to assess yourself is to take this 20-question version, since it actually compares each language against the other and gives you numeric scores. I strongly suggest you and your spouse/partner/SO/sweetie both taking it, and discussing the results. I found mine (behind the cut) somewhat surprising -- I would have expected words to come out higher. For that matter, see if you can get your (older) kids to take it.

You see, love isn't about treating the other person the way you want to be treated, it's about treating them the way they need to be treated. Saying "I love you" in the language they understand best. I've written about this upstream, but this clarifies it a lot.

Mismatches in language can cause a lot of havoc. If your language is "gifts" but your partner's is "quality time", they may weep at an expensive present because you could have spent the money on an intimate dinner for two at their favorite restaurant. If "acts of service" is high on your list but low on theirs, they might not even notice all the little things you've done for them. They might be waiting for a good-night kiss or a simple "I love you".

So, query for the audience: Were your results surprising? Your partner's? Will knowing this make a difference?

I'll start: )
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

I was feeling deeply worried this morning, and frazzled earlier this afternoon, with more errands to run than time to run them in. But I picked up Colleen a little after 2pm and she wanted a drive and some shopping, so in the end the only errand that didn't get run was picking up the replacement headlight bulb for the Honda. Tomorrow, when Honda's parts department is open. Gin, coffee, sponges, and green scrubbies did get obtained, and I got to push Colleen around Yamagami's Nursery on her new rolly, to look at the flowers and get some fresh air. Between that and a half-hour walk this morning, I've even had some exercise.

We'll make it.

I hadn't realized until these last few weeks just how much we both need time together and simple, physical touch. I've known for a long time how much Colleen needs them, but it turns out that we both have the same idea of a good time: a little recreational window-shopping and a long quiet drive with the occasional light touch and a bit of conversation. Yeah, sex is wonderful, and warm, happy snuggle is probably even better. Simple companionship may be the best of all.

The kids are out gaming; I'm here at home finishing off some leftovers for dinner, and heading back to White Blossom at 8pm to help Colleen mainline her dinner.

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

"What can I do for you?" -- I used to ask Colleen that question rather often. She told me recently that it drove her crazy. She felt that she was being put on the spot; that I was fishing for some specific response. Really, all I wanted was to be helpful. But when I thought about it, I realized that I wouldn't like it either. Nobody wants to feel helpless or incompetent, even if they do have problems getting around. Maybe, especially if they have problems.

N. told me of a similar problem: she didn't want her lover wasting time and energy doing practical things for her, when what she really wanted wwas affectionate attention. Time together. Sometimes we loners have trouble remembering that our lovers would rather have us with them doing nothing, not off doing something for them somewhere else. It makes sense, when you phrase it that way.

I rarely ask Colleen what I can do for her anymore. I confine my practical questions to things like "Is there anything I can bring you as long as I'm up?", or "Would you like a cup of coffee?" as I'm pouring one for myself. Something that clearly would take little or no extra effort on my part, and would bring me close enough for a quick kiss or a hug after I've set down whatever she asked for. She shouldn't have to ask for those.

If I think the dishes need doing, I can do them while she's asleep.

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

I believe I've mentioned that I don't do subtle. Whether sending or receiving -- I'm no good at recognizing hints, and even worse at hinting. In an IM conversation last night I had the vague feeling that the other person wanted to flirt with me, but I had no idea how to confirm it. No idea what I could possibly say in response that would indicate a willingness on my part to continue.

Instead, my mind veered off in largely irrelevant and in some cases potentially dangerous directions; it was an hour before I decided it was worth asking for calibration. Which prompted a more serious discussion, at the end of which I realized that, even on those rare occasions when I can recognize that I'm being flirted with, I don't know what to do about it.

Sometimes, to be sure, someone feeds me a straight line with an obvious response, and in that case I can usually be counted on to make it. But I still don't know where to go from there. As is usual in dealing with humans, flirtation seems to be a foreign language that I have little talent for and would be too embarrassed to practice in public.

I don't mind the fact that my response to some flirtatious remark is likely to send things off into a deeper conversation -- I like deep conversations, and know how to handle myself in them. To strain a metaphor, I don't mind diving into deep water; it's hitting the rocks on a too-shallow bottom that I worry about. How does one keep the conversation shallow and playful?

I don't mind things getting silly, either, though I tend to be overly serious, and my brand of humor tends toward dry, wry, and often self-deprecating. I might be able to be silly. The thing I worry about is going in the other other direction -- saying something unintentionally offensive or hurtful or inappropriate, or simply stupid.

(Hmm. This is a tricky one to phrase. I've mentioned before that I have very few limits on how deep a conversation or a relationship can go. Even when I know that someone is not available and/or not interested, how do I avoid damaging a valuable friendship by exposing the fact that I might be happy to fall madly in bed with them if they were? That's a topic that probably needs a separate discussion; I've been close to stepping over that line, or maybe stepped well over it without even noticing, a couple of times in other situations.)

The whole thing seems to rely on being able to walk along some invisible line that only humans can see.

Still, it sounds like fun. I'd be open to giving it a try, provided I could be reasonably certain that the other party wouldn't mind the occasional digression into linguistic, psychological or interpersonal meta-analysis. That's probably asking too much on either side.

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

Colleen and I went for a nice long drive yesterday; around the long loop up the coast and home through Half Moon Bay. It was mostly good, but some disturbing things came up toward the end and I'm afraid my mood crashed pretty badly. Yes, my baseline mood has improved recently (Colleen confirms it, and ordered me in no uncertain terms to stay away from gluten from now on). But the amplitude and frequency of the swings has also increased considerably.

This will be briefer than I would have liked; details have already started to fade. But some of it is very important, at least for me.

Somehow, probably in response to me asking her to clarify something, we got back on the subject of my attempts to get her to answer questions when I didn'tunderstand or didn't hear the original answer. She blew up at me. You may remember a post upstream titled Why I asked. Yeah, that again. Plus something that triggered memories of last March and April when she feared she was losing me (which I've touched on under the title of The Silicon Mistress). And didn't believe me when I said she wasn't, because she was paying more attention to my attitude than to my words.

The combination sent me into a tailspin, wondering whether our relationship had deteriorated to the point where she no longer wanted to talk with me about it. From further conversation, I don't think so. I hope not. She also came up with a fascinating bit of information. It raises more questions than it answers, unfortunately.

She was under psychoanalysis for years, from a very young age; it left her with a lifelong hatred for and distrust of the whole profession. It hasn't stopped us from getting the kids help when they needed it, but she reacted vehemently when I asked whether we would benefit from counseling. I wouldn't know -- I've never done it.

But apparently my way of asking questions, multiple times with different wordings to try to come to an understanding of what she said, sounds to her exactly like what a shrink does. No wonder she rejects it.

Question: what in Hell can I do about this? I can't stop asking her for clarification: if it was important enough for her to say something to me, it's important for me to understand it. Is there a way of asking for clarification that doesn't make me sound like I'm trying to psychoanalyze her?

Public service announcement #1: When I ask you a question I am not trying to psychoanalyze you. Nor am I trying to see whether you know something, the way I would with a kid drilling for a test. I'm just trying to get an answer. When I ask a question it's because you know the answer and I don't. If I ask again in different words, it's because I didn't understand the first answer, or because it sounded like the answer to a question I didn't ask. If I paraphrase your answer and ask you to confirm it, it's because I want to make damned sure I understood what you said, because it seemed to be important.

Public service announcement #2: Please listen. I will usually tell you why I am seemingly asking a question again. If I do, I mean exactly what I say. Please listen to the exact words of the question, too. Don't respond with the answer to the question you think I was going to ask: it will only confuse both of us.

I don't know how I can make this more clear. Suggestions welcome.

mdlbear: portrait of me holding a guitar, by Kelly Freas (freas)

This is a follow-up to my upstream posts Tres Gique: Weekend of Win and Tres Gique: Weekend Wrap-up, this time from the point of view of the River posts.

A weekend is barely enough time for catching up with a friend. Fill it with 8 hours of rehearsal, a couple hours of commute time, lunch and snack breaks, and add the fact that [livejournal.com profile] cflute is not only my good friend but Colleen's. I got plenty of time with Callie, but most of that time was busy and tightly focussed. All the one-on-one time was spent in my car, and while I can talk and drive, I can't concentrate as much as I like to do when I'm talking with a friend.

Colleen, of course, got even less time -- she'd wanted to at least do a little recreational shopping. Schedules permitting, we'll have to try tacking an extra day onto the next visit.

 

Colleen ended up feeling excluded, even though she excluded herself because she knows that listening to us rehearse would drive her crazy. And because she knows that if she's around we'll be trying to entertain her -- perform for her -- rather than working on the hard parts in a way that would be excruciating for someone who listens to music purely for pleasure.

Next time we'll have streaming audio, probably using icecast, with a text backchannel probably using either IRC or Jabber. That will mean that remote participants like Colleen and [livejournal.com profile] pocketnaomi can be flies on the wall if they want to, and drop out quietly if they're bored.

Having Colleen cater lunch on Saturday was highly successful. Next time we'll have her come in with a snack on Sunday as well, which will hopefully make her feel even more connected and give her a chance to say goodbye to Callie, and sit in on our last session if she wants to.

 

We had a different set of problems with [livejournal.com profile] pocketnaomi, who wanted to be included even though she was stuck up in Seattle. Our initial attempt on Saturday, using a cell phone, was disastrous: Callie interpreted N's saying that the sound quality was barely tolerable as meaning that she didn't want to continue listening. The result was a very upset PocketPerson on the other end of the line, especially since Callie and I turned our cell phones off at that point.

Sunday we set up Skype on my laptop, which was much better, especially after we turned off the video. We used IM (to Callie's laptop) as the backchannel. Naomi told me the next day that

I'm quite happy communicating to you in text while being able to hear you but not be heard. It means if I need to deal with the kids or ask someone a question or rustle the pages of my book, I'm not interfering.

The only glitch came when we took a break, and both of our laptops timed out and dropped the connections. Leaving an upset PocketPerson on the other end of the line again. This time, fortunately, we were able to recover quickly and almost gracefully.

The lessons for next time )
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

According to an article in the October 24th issue of Science Magazine (p. 606) titled "Experiencing Physical Warmth Promotes Interpersonal Warmth", people holding a warm cup of coffee are more likely to judge the person they're interacting with as having a warm personality than people holding a cup of iced coffee. People touching a warm object are more likely than people touching a cold object to give a gift to a friend rather than treat themselves.

I'm not sure which I find more weird: that there is, somehow, a reason why we use the same word for these two seemingly disparate concepts, or that Colleen doesn't find it weird at all.

In any case, I think I'll make myself a cup of hot ginger tea.

(ETA: Colleen and the article both point out the association between physical warmth and comfort, and the care a mother gives her infant. That is, indeed, the likely connection. I still find the linguistic association surprising. The fact that Colleen picked up on it instantly while I can only make the connection intellectually is, of course, not surprising in the least, but I find it vaguely disturbing.)

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

From [livejournal.com profile] theferrett, we have an interesting post titled Two Types Of Doomed Fate:

I have a problem with fate. Whenever I hear a guy telling a woman, "We were fated to be together -- we're soulmates" in the first month or two of a relationship, I just sit back and wait for that couple to crash into the wall, hard. Which they inevitably do.

It's almost as though they were fated to fail.

I'm not opposed to fate in love, mind you. It's just that in my experience there are two kinds of guys who really get off on Fated Love enough that they'll blurt it out on the third date, and both are toxic bad news.

The first, and harmless, Fated Love Junky is the Seeker. He's the stereotypical nerd who falls in love with an idea, not an actual woman. See, the trick in a relationship is to realize that people are irritating. Sure, some people are less vexing than others, but you live with someone for a couple of years and they're going to have some habits that drive you crazy. No two people are a perfect fit; like woodworking, you have to sand and plane a little to get the edges to match up.

As usual, I'm not entirely sure I agree on all points, and I suspect that it doesn't apply nearly as much to women -- Colleen, at least, claims that it was love at first sight on her part, over 39 years ago; reading cards in the Stanford coffeehouse. I'm not about to argue with success.

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

Note: stress, anxiety, hunger, dehydration, and sleep deprivation are a hypergolic mixture. Handle with extreme caution.

Note: There are comparatively few things that can cause a full-scale Mandelbear melt-down, complete with gibbering apologies, silent, dry-eyed sobbing and a deep desire to simultaneously curl up in a ball, storm out of the room, and drop through the floor. Being told by an angry Colleen that I have hurt her without even knowing it -- totally failed at this "being human" thing -- is one of them.

Note for next time: take a big drink of something cold and wet, have a very quick dinner, put any unexpected guests in the care of the kids, and retire to the bedroom with Colleen and two glasses of something alcoholic for an hour of snuggle and catching up.

OK; I'll unpack that.

On the way home from the airport we had some silly argument over caller ID and our cell phones. I should know better than to try to explain something like that to somebody who clearly doesn't care about the technical details, but I was tired enough for it to have seemed important at the time.

The anxiety and stress part was mostly over Colleen's not having heard back about her ultrasound. We were both hungry; I was sleep-dep'd from the con and stressed from travel.

I thought we'd talked enough about the con, at least for a while; there were unexpected guests in the house -- at least, I hadn't been expecting them -- and Colleen didn't want to embarass me in front of them by telling me to stop paying attention to my LJ and pay some attention to her.

Public Service Announcement: It may conceivably embarass me a little to be reminded to pay attention to my wife, but I'm a bear of very little brain, and an occasional whack from a cluebat doesn't hurt. Something along the lines of "stop hanging out with your silicon mistress and talk to me" would work fine. Or, "kiss me now, you idiot!"

As I've said several times, I don't do subtle.

mdlbear: (distress)

Copy this sentence into your livejournal if you're in a non-same-sex marriage, and you don't want it "protected" by the bigots who think that gay marriage hurts it somehow.

(seen several places this morning)

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