darkemeralds: Old black and white portrait of DarkEm at the age of three (Little Me)
One of my great teachers sent out her quarterly newsletter the other day, and in it she recommended a little exercise for the new year:

Consider in a playful and loving way what symbol or image arises when you imagine being YOU, fully and completely. When you are expanded and unlimited, joyful and brilliant, ask, "When I am my True Self, I am like...?" Notice what comes to mind. It could be a feeling, a word or a metaphor.

She provided an example from one of her clients, who discovered in herself "a Guardian, a Healer, an Architect."

Me? Not so much. )
darkemeralds: Dark Emeralds in red glasses (Default)
I've been wanting to say authentic things here: deeper, truer things, stuff that makes me uneasy to share (not because it's necessarily bad or dangerous, but because I have a highly-controlled personality and my people place a premium on self-containment and shame-avoidance).

So I'm sort of working up to talking about my long trek through the desert of reductionist materialism into a tentative anatheism, or about transformative experiences that have left no mark on my skin, my address, or my income, and therefore may not look real to other people (and may sound loony).

I want to talk about these things, but I still worry about being cast out of what few communities I can claim connection to, for being something (it could be anything--unacceptable, ill-informed, backward, too far-out, not articulate enough, stupid, outdated, wrong, and, most recently, too old).

So for today I'll leave this as a placeholder, and move briefly on to more mundane things.

Like, OMG was Backstrom as awful as I thought it was? It was, right? Cliché, offensive, derivative, how-the-fuck-did-this-get-greenlit, pretending-to-be-Portland-can't-save-it bad. Right? But maybe the 12 unbearable minutes I gave it weren't enough. Does it deserve another chance?
darkemeralds: Purple patent leather Doc Martens against a multi-colored carpet with the title True Colors (True Colors)
This is the best scene ever written for television. Was anyone else as bowled over by it as I was?

Elementary 2.09 )

There have been quite a few well-meaning Joan Watsons in my own life over the years who accepted me as I was while rooting for me to become nicer. Some of them had letters after their names and billed my insurance by the hour. And I was fully on board the "cure me of being me" train for years.

What else could I do? I'm not a brilliant detective or an attractive and financially independent white male--things that allow all versions of Sherlock Holmes to withstand the consequences of being fundamentally--what's the word? Attachment-disordered? Spock-like? A wee bit sociopathic? Introverted? Poorly-socially-networked? A natural loner? An edge-dweller?

It's a strange minority position to be in. The scene emphasizes the strong belief among more connected humans that we edge-dwellers could join the majority if we just tried a little harder.

So we try, most of us, most of the time. Often our livelihood depends on it. If I'd been born a couple of generations earlier, the need to conform to a "marriageable" standard of nice-girl behavior would have been nearly a matter of life and death.

None of this is to disregard the advantages I do have in life--I have them, I make use of them, and I'm grateful for them. (As it happens, I think my combination of coldness and competence has just plain scared employers into keeping me on and paying me a salary all these years. And now I get to retire.)

Nor am I advocating for antisocial behavior. I'm not completely separate from the continent, and yes, the bell tolls for me, too. I abide by common please-and-thank-you standards, and what I care about, I care about deeply. I experience enjoyment and pleasure in non-evil things like laughter and food. I'm capable of love, albeit to a limited extent: I let things and people go much more easily than others do. I've tried not to, but I just don't care as much as I "should."

Jason Tracey, who wrote this episode of Elementary, has perfectly captured the tension between the edge-dweller and the more connected among us, and that's no small thing. But the scene goes a bit further by explicitly stating the edge-dweller's acceptance of himself and the consequences of his nature. Sherlock knows--and does not regret--that his nature is what makes him good at the singular thing he's really good at.

That's what made it revolutionary for me.
darkemeralds: (Now)
Do you ever feel like you're just...disappearing?

I have the oddest sensation lately that I barely exist. I'm sure my imminent retirement has something to do with it--one of my lifelong mooring lines is about to be cast off. I've never been very engaged with my work or my coworkers, and now I'm even less so.

I don't think that's the whole story, though. I can't figure out how to describe it. But, as we say in EFT, "if you did know how to describe it, what do you think you'd say?"

It's...hollow. Quiet. Becalmed. In a fog. When I home in on it, there's fear at the center that I don't want to look at. It's probably not a monster--more like a Dweller on the Threshold. (...there come cycles wherein the Dweller on the Threshold appears and confronts the aspirant, challenging his purpose and progress and blocking the door which leads to expanded life and liberation. The Dweller challenges the freedom of the human soul.1)

If I get the nerve to confront it, I'll let myself know. Meanwhile, have a pretty picture from my morning commute:

A view from the Eastbank Esplanade westward across the Willamette River in Portland on a foggy morning, with downtown buildings beginning to emerge into sunshine
darkemeralds: Old black and white portrait of DarkEm at the age of three (Little Me)
I only met my paternal grandfather twice. The first time, I was about three. He took me for ice cream. I wanted “green” which, to my West Coast and three-year-old mind was self-evidently lime sherbet. To his East Coast sensibilities, it meant pistachio. I cried all the way home. He said, “Damn kid” and “How the hell am I supposed to know what green ice cream is?” (This is a famous family story, often repeated--I doubt whether I actually remember it directly.)

It was barely a thing. It was a toddler crying over ice cream. Boo-hoo little special snowflake. But it was also a grown man normalizing rage and contempt for a grandchild he would only meet once again in his life. I must have deserved it. I was stupid. I should have known better. People will get mad and say bad things, and maybe shake me a little, if I don’t “learn to like it.” These are the preconscious proto-reactions of a three-year-old child.

Unto the third and the fourth generation )
darkemeralds: detail of beaded purse, caption One Bead At a Time (beadwork)
This post was going to be about thinking styles. [personal profile] azurelunatic and I were discussing the different brain processes in knitting and crocheting, and [personal profile] yourlibrarian and I were talking about pattern thinking and the autistic brain, and I was having Very Thinky Thoughts.

I riffed for a while on my brain, my making-of-things, my peculiar set of limitations and strengths. I took some photos. I coded some links, I wrote and deleted some sentences.

But it's a sunny Sunday in June. I had a bacon cheeseburger for lunch, I've spent my morning beta-ing the work of two writers, both brilliant, and you know what? My brain isn't up to the task of making coherent noises about itself.

So instead, here are some pretty pictures of beadwork, as metaphors for two modes my brain likes to use.

Photos illustrating what I'm not capable of articulating in words. )


May. 3rd, 2013 07:09 pm
darkemeralds: Dark Emeralds in red glasses (Default)
In my research into attachment "disorders" I came across this article about cold people in Psychology Today.

If you've gotten into a relationship with a cold person, the article says, "hopefully you walked away." "Avoidant-dismissive attachment disorder" (characterized by aloofness, coldness, lack of affection, self-absorption--the list is long and decidedly not neutral) is caused by faults of "maternal caretaking". One commenter on part 2 of the article calls for finding and sterilizing women with this disorder, presumably to curb the creation of more people the commenter might feel uncomfortable with.

It's just one pop-psych article, written in a comment-baiting style, so I don't take it too seriously. But its strongly biased language and illustrations caused some disparate ideas to coalesce in my mind--ideas about myself, heredity, types of people, and the peculiarly American drive for "self improvement" that has dogged me all my days.

A Tweet from childfreediva with the text I will forever defend my right to be dysfunctional when those are not functions I want anyway and the tags childfree and introvert.

Detached, haughty and stand-offish am I )

To every wonderful person who has dared to be my friend I say thank you, from the bottom of my cold (but deep) heart.

And to the name-calling institutions and individuals who can't get past the fact that I'm not the kind of lady you're comfortable with, I say NOT SORRY. FIND BETTER WORDS, OR STOP TALKING ABOUT ME.


Apr. 27th, 2013 10:26 pm
darkemeralds: An old book whose spine reads Signsls and Cyphers, with the text DarkEmeralds (Cyphers)
Just finished my third and probably final pass through Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives by Nicholas Christakis and James Fowler.

I first listened to this one about three years ago, and one of the authors' key findings left a big impression: that your position in your social network a) has a lot of influence over your well-being and b) is partly heritable. If you're peripheral (few friends, weak ties, less able to benefit from the network), there's an even chance that you were born that way.

This notion planted a seed in my brain that's borne some interesting fruit. A vague sense that asexuality and "attachment disorder" (god I hate that term) might be related to network position has led me to a lot of research and some new ideas about myself and how maybe I don't need fixing. (My post about my simple mind the other day may be loosely bound in this constellation too.)

It's a fascinating book. For a short version covering the high points for free, Christakis gives an entertaining TED talk, and a more sciencey TED talk.
darkemeralds: Purple patent leather Doc Martens against a multi-colored carpet with the title True Colors (True Colors)
I tried to knit this:
A handknit raspberry-colored ribbed and fitted buttoned cardigan
(Arpeggio by Maria Leigh on Ravelry)

It appealed to me because its design embodies a high order of complexity. Everything about it is difficult and demanding--the stitch, the construction method, the shaping, the sizing, the finishing. It's hard to cast on, hard to bind off, and unforgiving for every row in between.

I thought I could do it, but I couldn't. Everything difficult about it was, for me, actually impossible.

Like a lot of things in my life, this isn't REALLY about knitting at all. )
darkemeralds: Naked woman on a bike, caption "I don't care, I'm still free" (Bike Freedom)
Somewhere during my deep dive into self-quantifying, I got hooked up with Track Your Happiness. Apparently it's some Harvard guy's doctoral research project. Every six months or I get a series of 50 happiness surveys, three per day at random times.

Each survey takes about a minute to complete. They all start out "How do you feel?" with a bad-to-good slider. Most of them include questions about what you're doing, whether you have to do it, and whether you want to do it.

They ask about sleep duration and quality the previous night. Where are you? Alone or in company? (And if alone, interacting with anyone--a distinction I appreciate.) Occasionally they'll pop in a question about sexual activity, or Facebook use, or hours of exercise in the past week, or how much control you feel like you have over your future.

You get personal results as a series of charts and graphs. (Presumably there will be mass, collective results at some future time.) I just finished my fourth survey.

Clearly, I should make a point of riding my bike to restaurants. )

Additionally, it seems that I'm happiest when I'm doing something that I want to do but don't have to do. When I'm either totally focused or not at all focused on what I'm doing. When I'm alone (though that just reflects that I'm a pretty happy person and also alone most of the time).

Here's one that took me by surprise. )
darkemeralds: Healing hands with white, blue and violet rays of light (Hands of Light)
After listening for at least the fifth time to Margaret Lynch's training session on healing the second chakra, and feeling as frustrated by it this afternoon as I have the other times, I decided to do some tapping.

I work alone (and type really fast), so I've developed a method of recording as I go. The "tapping" is as much fingertips on keyboard as on actual meridian points. It seems to work.

EFT for the strange )

I don't follow anybody's standard protocol, I just raid Gary Craig and Nick Ortner and Carol Tuttle and Pat Carrington and Margaret Lynch for parts, and construct my own. The basic structure, however, is standard: negative setup statement repeated three times (with some choices inserted), followed by all the short negatives that pop up, until I yawn, or sneeze, or feel the emotional intensity drop, or get really bored. Then some positives, all while tapping around the points.

Then, if you're me, repeat till you can't stand it anymore, then call it a day.
darkemeralds: Dark Emeralds in red glasses (Default)
I've made some progress towards Dressing My Truth, without actually overburdening my one and only credit card (much).

The program suggests a 30-day trial using what you already own before giving away everything in your closet. That gives you time to develop your eye, test the system, and not be completely, obsessively rash make informed decisions.

Three bags full. )

Type 4

Jun. 17th, 2012 09:54 pm
darkemeralds: Manga-style avatar of DarkEm with caption Hee (cartoony me)
I've been like a convert to a new religion lately. Dressing Your Truth is my latest thing, and I've been running around trying to resist the urge to put all its precepts into practice, right now, perfectly, in my clothes, hair, makeup, accessories, jewelry, bike, home decor, and blog style.

With my Freeze Ray I will stop the world. )
darkemeralds: Photo of half an apple pie, with the caption "First Create The Universe" (Pie)
A weight loss graph showing a span of 600 days and a weight trend starting at 256 pounds, dropping to 193, then rising again to 207, with a trendline continuing upward

This is the picture of a typical diet--mine, in fact. It says, "She lost a lot of weight but not as much as she planned, and then started to regain it, and if she doesn't change something, she'll be right back where she started by early 2013."

Have I become the statistic I swore I wouldn't become? )


May. 17th, 2012 08:50 pm
darkemeralds: (catastrophe)
Have you ever noticed how the most shocking nightmares, when viewed through the I'm-awake-now-thank-God lens of Jungian-esque analysis, are the most useful? And how the message is often pretty uplifting?

It's been years since I did any particular dreaming. I had a series of terrifying seizures which always came on first thing in the morning, and always in the context of trying vainly to remember a dream, so I became highly averse to remembering dreams. But just the past couple of weeks I seem to have taken it up again.

The one I had this morning between cat-letting-out and actual waking was a humdinger involving ice and high places and someone falling to her death and me hanging on for dear life so I wouldn't do the same thing. A wake-up-screaming nightmare.

And yet as soon as I was fully awake I recognized it as an ego-death kind of dream. I've been releasing lots of things, and ideas, and goals lately. Part of me falling to her icy death is a pretty apt symbol.

Still...rainbows and non-creepy butterflies tonight, please.
darkemeralds: Photo of duct tape with caption "May actually prevent head explosion" (Duct Tape)
There's a psycho-physical phenomenon called ego depletion which, brain scientists speculate, is caused by over-use of the will. It happens when you have to concentrate on something, or control your reactions, or generally over-apply your conscious mind.

I'm paraphrasing a bit. Anyway, people seem to have a tank of this mental willpower stuff, and ego depletion is when the tank runs dry. When that happens, you don't have much will to spare for the next thing that requires it--like making a decision, resisting temptation, or controlling your temper.

Depleting and refilling )


Oct. 20th, 2011 03:02 pm
darkemeralds: Dark Emeralds in red glasses (Abdicate)
This wanted to be one of those posts where I complain about my job, but the problem isn't my job, it's my brain. I'm losing my ability to act like the kind of person who can do the kind of job I have.

It's not a rant-post obliquely glorifying my unique brilliance compared to the dull plodding minds of my coworkers. Nor, conversely, is it a guilt-post, confessing my secret fear that I'm not smart enough and I Will Be Found Out. Everybody's a Special Snowflake and everybody's flawed.

What it is, I think, is the beginning of an inquiry into either a developing neurological disorder or a basic thinking style which I can no longer cover up. I'm not sure which.

I don't have nearly enough information yet. )
darkemeralds: detail of beaded purse, caption One Bead At a Time (beadwork)
The Manifesto of Style as set out in Style Statement: Live By Your Own Design resonates with me. Its prime directive, "Communicate who you are in all you do," is well-aligned with my desires and goals, and a Style Statement seemed like a great lens through which to focus "who I am" in "all I do".

But despite twenty hours of engrossed effort answering the Style Statement workbook questions, I wasn't getting it. I just couldn't seem to distill my style into two words that felt right. And your Style Statement, above all, is supposed to feel right.

So yesterday I called for help, and in less than an hour my sister, with prompts from [personal profile] ravurian and [livejournal.com profile] owzers, cleared it all up.

'Communicate who you are in all you do.' )


Oct. 5th, 2011 01:47 pm
darkemeralds: Dark Emeralds in red glasses (true colors)
The center of my recent trip to the United Kingdom turned out to be the four days I spent at Ashwhin Retreat on Shapinsay.

I had no particular agenda for such a retreat; I just felt drawn to it in a profligate, "what the hell" kind of way made possible only by a windfall (in this case, the sale of my car).

Ashwhin on Shapinsay )

Two words

Oct. 4th, 2011 03:00 pm
darkemeralds: Dark Emeralds in red glasses (true colors)
[personal profile] executrix sent me a gorgeous book, Style Statement: Live By Your Own Design by Danielle LaPorte and Carrie McCarthy.

It looks like a coffee-table book of fashion and personal style, but it's really about discovering your true values. Big changes are on my horizon, and Style Statement looked like a great way to start designing the next phase of my life.

A battered street sign for North Kalaheo Avenue in Kailua, Hawaii1

It is. )

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