Day 43, with Anniversary and Work-based Failure

I’m not gonna talk about Russia’s new 5k, or Lysol having to issue a disclaimer about something the President of the United States said during a press conference*.

This post is a wee summary of a personal good and personal bad on the same day.

First, I have been struggling to get an update to one of my work products out the door. For like six months. It has been broken differently every single step of the way. And I thought we had it, but when the build was sent out yesterday? Everything crashed on my test device. It was a brand new device, too, so nothing to conflict with the app.

I was … surprisingly crushed. Sick-feeling. Tearing up. Like… it’s just an app. Built on a major platform. Why is it taking so incredibly long to build it and make it work? It USED to work.

Sheesh I’m tearing up just thinking about it. Six months wasted. And today was supposed to be the day we finally shared some progress with the rest of the community. Instead I had to write them all that there was a blocker and it was pushed to next week. (If it gets fixed, that is. Sigh.)

On the flip side?

Today is the 10th anniversary of the day Jon and I actively decided to be a couple**. Which isn’t a big thing, but it’s nice to have the marker. Makes for some extra happy kisses in the morning.

I’m hanging on to that, for dear life, this morning.

*I mean, Jesus fucking Christ what the hell timeline is this? Ionesco meets Palahniuk or something?

**There are not many things I’m Leslie Knope-ish about, but romantic anniversaries are one of them. But I promise – I don’t do the berserk giftie thing.

Janus Gift #1 – The Practice of Practice

A coloring book page from the iOS app Pigment - A fantasy-style drawing of a dragon holding an egg

A coloring book page from the iOS app Pigment – A fantasy-style drawing of a dragon holding an egg

One of the things about being labeled – or branded – a gifted child (GC) in the United States is that you don’t get the opportunity to fail that much. Things come naturally to you, or you learn so fast, that being BAD at something feels like a moral failing rather than a straightforward process of learning. (See the Perfectionism section of that link above.) I mean, sure, no one is good at everything. But as a GC, you feel like you’re SUPPOSED to be. After all, you’re gifted. If you struggle with something, adults around you are likely to be confused. Why are you struggling when you’re so smart? And because it feels like a moral failing, a GC’s patience level with being unable to catch on is often WAAY low, so the tactics adults use for other kids when they need a primer on something tend to feel… almost condescending.

And you know how tolerant tweens and teenagers are of condescension. *eyeroll*

As such, the whole concept of practicing something in order to get better at it? That’s surrounded with a lot of shame for a lot of GCs.*  If you don’t have a family situation that rewards experimentation, even if it results in failure, then there’s even more shame on top of that.

So yeah, as a GC with a very good memory, I was not good at practicing anything. It was incredibly stressful. As a kid I wasn’t even very good at studying. But at least with the latter, reading a book again was simple and something I generally liked doing, if it wasn’t math-based. But things that couldn’t be done with books; things that needed some muscle memory along with the mind? Horrible. Truly horrible.

My hand-eye coordination has never been good. The closest I’ve come to being good at anything that needed some coordination is playing piano, and even that required developing some muscle memory that was just unpleasant without my teacher right there to be encouraging. I also can’t draw or cut a straight line to save my life, and I can’t catch or hit a ball without a LOT of mental calculations involved.

Therefore, this year my first gift is to reclaim something I’ve never had before.

The Practice of Practice.

I get to do things and fail at them. Even fail dramatically. I am practicing getting better at Practice.

I’m starting with video games, specifically 3rd person point-and-shoots. I’m practicing playing characters I’m not naturally good at playing. Practicing developing patience with the dynamics. Practicing being okay with not having good hand-eye coordination and developing tactics to compensate. So far it’s been okay, though I do still sometimes yell at the screen.

I’m also practicing coloring. While I LOVE color and playing with it in various ways, coloring books are a source of a metric fuckton of stress for me. See, the same way I can’t cut or draw a straight line, I also can’t seem to color inside lines. It’s wildly frustrating to be an adult and still color like one is 6 yrs old, and not get BETTER at it as you keep going on. So with coloring books or other types of defined art, if I slipped and colored outside the lines? Perfectionism stated that the Whole Thing Was Ruined. As coloring books became more popular for adults I thought I could try again, but the same pattern emerged. I would try one image, feel like I’d ruined the image and therefore the book, then never do anything with them again.

However, the coloring app Pigment has a setting that allows me to automatically keep what I’m doing within the lines defined by the drawing, and that gives me the freedom to experiment with shading, accenting and blending… and because it’s digital, I don’t need to worry I’ve ruined a drawing I really want to keep. I can redo it as often as I want. I can undo anything I’ve done. That’s not something I ever experienced when I was a kid with paints, markers and crayons. Yesterday I made quite a few mistakes with the dragon drawing I was working on, as shown above, and still really enjoyed the process of experimenting. I was able to redo the face multiple times and still have the “ooh neat!” experience, because there was no consequence to whatever I had done. Any mistake was reversible – no paper to be stored or thrown away; no art supplies wasted.

A precious gift to someone like me. :)

(Note that I still would not be practicing coloring if it wasn’t for Jon and his Xmas gift to me. Without the bigger screen and the stylus, I’d just be tapping to add color. His gift made my own gift to myself better than it would have been otherwise.)

 

Once I get used to video gaming and coloring practice, I’m going to try to practice meditation, then something else physical. Hopefully I can get better at having fun at something, even if I’m not good at it. That’s the aim for this gift – to learn how to practice and have fun at the same time.

 

* Don’t take my word for it – there’s lots of folks out there who write about Gifted Child Syndrome, though each person who writes from their own perspective as a GC has a different frame for it. Feel free to Google it.

Holiday Week Hindsight

So this past week has been one for the ages as far as I’m concerned. Not only is Jon still recovering from knee reconstruction surgery (quite well, but still, he’s got a limited range of available activities) but I managed to do some fun damage over the course of the week:

  • I somehow managed to fuck up my hips and back where moving and walking is painful
  • then tripped and fell so badly (while walking the dog, poor Kizu) I ripped the palms of both hands and my right knee and foot
  • then dropped a cast iron griddle on that same foot
  • then wrenched my back *again* trying not to fall down the basement stairs

So while actual Gluttony Day worked out okay, the following days? Not so much. I’m sporting some pretty decorative bruises, and the muscle soreness from the fall and the wrench is something else. My back is hurting badly enough that I didn’t dare drive the two hours to see one of my favorite living writers read from what is probably my favorite SFF world.

Which was extra depressing.

But here we are, Monday monday, and the week is done. I know that in a year’s time what I will really remember about this past week is that Jon and I, together, figured out how to manage both our weesmall kitchen and our physical limitations to deliver a damn good Gluttony Day feast – duck! amazing mashed potatoes! sauteed mushrooms and onions! and we did PIES this year! I did a pear custard tart with almond crust and Jon did a pumpkin pie with graham crust. Plenty of homemade whipped cream to go with it.

We were also able to figure out how to share a table rather than eating side by side on the couch with our plates on our laps. If we’d had to eat like that it’s not the worst thing in the world, but the thing I like the most about sharing a well-composed meal is the face-to-face aspect.

I might still be in pain, but I do count both of those as big wins. Wins I’m grateful for.

 

The Day Before

I imagine this as a test.

“If you had only 36 hours left in the lifestyle you currently know, what would you do?”

It’s in me to have pretty melodramatic reactions to shit. It’s a useful trait in a writer, after all, and a hella convenient one for a project manager in a dysfunctional organization. Seriously, when I was doing project management in one particular company, having various “OMG DOOM INCOMING EVERYTHING IS GOING TO SHIT WHAT THE HELL DO WE DO” reactions saved my cookies more than once, because off I went, finding the best possible ways with the resources we had to respond in case the worst DID happen.

Which it did. More often than I like to remember.

But that org is a long time past and I’m no longer a project manager. Now my doom and gloom thoughts don’t have good redirection… and this is one of the doomiest election cycles I’ve had a chance to witness. So here I am, looking out the window at the charcoal-purple evening sky and wondering. If this was the last time I got to have this life as it is, what would I do?

Um. *heartflutter*

     Caveat: I can’t really visualize an arc-shattering event in my country.
     But I have family who lived through bombings & destruction in WW2.
     I see what is happening in Syria. I know it can happen anywhere.
     I owe it to myself to know.

Well, listening to the 2 early Hamilton Mixtape releases is a good start. I’ll luxuriate in Kelly Clarkson kicking ass on “It’s Quiet Uptown.”

I’ll listen to a selection of music I love. I’ll cry, like I do, at a lot of it.

Sweetie is at work. He’ll come home and I’ll say “YAY” loudly, like I often do, and run to him, like I sometimes do, and get kisses and skinses* before he can even drop his bag, like I often do.

We’ll walk the pup. Delight in the park. Come back and snuggle with animals and watch the Westworld episode we missed last night. Maybe watch some CW shows.

Then I’ll sleep. Hope to sleep well, but aware I’ll probably wake, often, worrying.

…I couldn’t even get past that. I don’t think I’d want to get out of bed the next day. The likelihood would be that all the roos would be with us. And I can’t imagine spending a better last-few-hours than that – safe, warm, supported, with the sweeties I love all around me.

It took a while for me to realize it.

I am exactly where I would choose to be. EXACTLY.

And that gives me more hope that I expected.

Happy Moviversarmas!

Today is Moviversarmas in our household.

“What the everlasting fuck is Moviversarmas?” you may ask.

Move In Anniversary Before Christmas, it is.

Jon picked his life up from Pittsburgh and we moved him to Brooklyn in a marathon 10 hour drive overnight, with 3 cats and 1 dog in the back of a big van, on December 3rd.

Thing is, Moviversarmas is like Advent.

It lasts for a while.

There’s the landing day, Dec 2nd, which is the day Amelia and I arrived in Pittsburgh to help Jon pack the last bits.

Then there is today, where we packed up the kittens, had a last altercation with a downstairs neighbor who couldn’t decide what “quiet hours” were, and took off for the 10 hr adventure.

Then there’s the day, Dec 6th, when Monte came out from behind the couch where he hid after we landed.

Then there’s the day Jon’s ReloCube arrived and we got the perfect parking spot for it, by accident, and then unpacked it magically in 2 hrs when it had taken 2 days to pack it up.

…I could go on. (And in the future, I likely will.)

The thing about Moviversarmas is, we give gifts between ourselves now, rather than waiting until Xmas.

(Partly because we are REALLY BAD about saving gifts between us. We can’t hold them for longer than a month.)

It also provides us with a wide swath of time in which we can give the romantic, teary-making gifts that we don’t want to give in front of fambly.

In general? I enjoy this holiday, because it gives us another week or so of kissing each other happily in the morning and saying “Happy Moviversarmas!”

And any excuse for joy and celebration is a good excuse. :)

Happy Moviversarmas, everyone!

The Experience Of Beautiful Beings Changing Your Life

Welcome to the post in which I squee over beloved members of my life like I’m a fangirl.

(Actually, that’s kind of awesome – being a fangirl over people in my own life.)

((side note to my selves: take this on as a mantra.))

I have some of the most amazing beings in my life, both human and animal.

I have incredible artistic/scientific friends who are able to be supportive and encouraging and just the best possible persons I need in varying and sundry situations.

I have generous parents and in-laws who have been incredible through the ups and downs of life.

I have a spouse who is… well, ye gods, I keep falling more in love with him every day. He adds his strength to mine, teaches me to be brave, loves my dreams, ideals, and ambitions, is not threatened by my successes, loves our mutual animal companions, is gentle and loving with me, is…

*swoon*
Okay I’ll shut up about him now.

And I once had a dog who changed my life into something glorious.

I know, I know… it’s both precious and specious to talk about an animal changing your life. I do think it’s worth noticing that the *experience* of that precious, specious thing is a really…

Well, it’s like you look back and you realize that you’ve been on this little love-and-squee vacation for however long you’re looking back.

If that makes sense.

I’ve spent the past couple of months thinking about how my life unfolded with Amelia, and comparing it to how my life unfolded with Jon, and it’s truly remarkable to see how certain kinds of love, all on their lonesomes, can inspire great sea changes in you. And like living by the sea, you’re so busy looking at all the little rhythmic moments that comprise them that you don’t realize until you look back on old shorelines…

and holy crap the shore has been resculpted into a thing of splendor.

With Jon it’s a lot easier to see, because we’ve been checking in with each other on how we’re changing in subtle ways. Not for us Lillian Hellmann’s quote “People change and forget to tell each other.”

But a dog? A dog can’t talk back. All I ever had as proof of her ever-adapting love was how she overcame those obstacles and continued to learn how to express joy and make me – then us – laugh.

It’s that hindsight that hits you all at once.

I hope I never take it for granted.

Instituting “FSA” posts

…because I really need certain things to just fucking stop already.

Today’s FSA is “random miracle breakdowns/breakages.”

Story: Last weekend I had plane tickets to go to Toronto. My plan was to leave our apartment at 8 am, drive my car (Mitethe is her name) to the airport, park her, and hop the shuttle bus to catch the Porter flight at 10:10 am. So I traipsed down to the garage, clicked the key fob…

Nothing. No beep, nothing. Mitethe was dead to the world.

Cue panic. I didn’t have time to call for a jump. I didn’t even have time to take mass transit – from my apartment it would have taken easily 2 hours. So I checked my bank balance quickly, then sucked it up and took a cab.

When I got back, I realized that if I didn’t call roadside assistance at just the right time, I’d be blocking the rest of the garage in to their spots for the duration of my service call. I didn’t have to drive anywhere the rest of the week, so I kept deciding not to risk it. In the end, I didn’t get Mitethe back from the dead until Saturday (yesterday) late afternoon.

Then, at 5 am this morning, Jon & I were woken up by the sound of a lot of glass things falling to their doom on our tiled kitchen floor. We ran out there, groggy as hell, to discover the refrigerator doors open, a tempered glass shelf shattered, and multiple typical refrigerator objects, including glass bottles, smashed on the floor.

Jon was a hero. He cleaned up a lot of the floor, and I basically told him to ignore the fridge and come back to bed, because I was having a hard time staying upright.

Since then, we’ve both found glass in our shoes, and I’ve gotten glass powder stuck in my fingers while trying to clean.

So. Breakdowns/breakages, please fucking stop already.