amberite_archive: (nowhere)
This post is kind of important. Bear with me about the long, please. And non-DW people, don't worry: it doesn't stay on Doctor Who for long.

I loved what this episode had to say about mental illness:

- Just because you see things others don't, doesn't mean they aren't there.

- Conversely, the fact that they are there doesn't mean you aren't ill.

- A hug won't cure everything. Neither will a good perspective. But that doesn't mean either is futile, anymore than they are for someone with another form of illness. We're here to treat each other right. Doing otherwise just makes everything worse.

I loved how they made Vincent a human being, neither weak and pitiable nor mighty and overly romanticized. The typical "romantic" view of madness is problematic; it leaves out what is terrible about not being fully in charge of your brain. But there are things about it I am unwilling to throw away.

It's a common cognitive fallacy to view things in black and white, to love something or hate it, so most of the media portrayals either exalt or condemn insanity. The truth is that one's strength can be tied to one's weakness so inextricably there is no pulling them separate. The truth is that mad geniuses are rarely "great despite" or "great because of" their madness, but equal measures of both.

This like everything else shapes us.

I have accepted that my brain (which is somewhere in the ADHD/Asperger's spectrum, with associated comorbidity cloud of delayed sleep phases, mild depression and mild OCD) may often work well but will never work "normally". There are days that this pleases me and days it frustrates me to no end. Hell, there are minutes each way.

But if I am to love myself, I must love my brain. Which means all of love: I must forgive it and I must coax it to be the best thing it can. Not by bludgeoning it into submission, but not by leaving off and letting it alone, either. I must appreciate the things it does right and strive to troubleshoot where it goes wrong.

...and I wonder if part of my fascination with neurology is as a route to that, despite the fact that I was fascinated before I ever knew - a way of sneaking up on myself from behind. There's an uneasy balance between acceptance and resignation, after all, and being resigned was never good for anyone. When I discover a quirk of my mental behavior, part of me is saying - "Wow, how peculiar! I wonder what kind of a glitch that is and what neurological processes it involves!" and it keeps me going, reaching toward Wikipedia and Pubmed to learn more about this strange new specimen myself.

Going and going, and not stopping to entertain the pernicious thought: what will this keep me from achieving?

The pitfall of this approach, of course, is that when I do encounter a limit, it's usually with my nose at sixty miles per hour, and ow.

See that which is filed under car crash, and job search, and jewelry business, and sleep schedule fail...

And my early community college GPA, and many of my attempts at making friends...

But I've got to keep moving. Always, always. If I stop, it's hard to start again. I am put in mind of a Laurie Anderson lyric from "Speechless": And if I open my mouth now, I'll fall to the ground.

The paradox of my life is that my entire adult existence can be narrated as a litany of failures or of successes. I generally narrate these as successes because it improves my reaction rolls with other people (and I've left social "success"/"failure" out of the table because this is getting long enough already, and you get the idea.) When others react with insecurity, I narrate them as failures. Either view is equally correct.

Observe:

Shiny Awesomecat ViewNegative Nellie View
I started community college at 14.I dropped out of high school at 14.
Because I love writing and the humanities, and am good at them, earned a BA in Liberal Arts and a Master's in creative writing by the time I was 23, and wrote two novels, a critical thesis and a fair amount of poetry in the process.I was too flaky to write on my own, so I went into debt to get universities to give me deadlines for my writing, and carefully picked a non-linear education, being unable to hack doing normal homework.
I am confident, bold, creative, and happy with my appearance enough to have spent a couple of years working as a stripper, and enjoyed it.I worked in dive bars for two years because the thought of applying for a normal job and suffering a more than transitory rejection sent me into panic.
I started my own business in 2006.I tanked a business in 2006.
I spent a year in China teaching English at a technical college and having cool adventures. I saved a newborn kitten from certain death.After that, I couldn't handle face-to-face job interviews without breaking down crying, so I ran away, borrowing money from my dad so that my credit cards wouldn't go to collections while I was gone. Still haven't paid him back.
I just finished a year as a pre-medical student, taking hard science classes and doing well in them, and next year will earn a Bachelor of Science (general) degree if all goes well....Once I figured out how not to suck at school, I fell back in to avoid the stress of the working world. At 26, I have never held a job paying over $13/hour, nor a full-time job for an entire year.


I will stress that all of these things are true. That's what keeping perspective is about. I juggle thinking I'm awesomesauce with thinking I'm inadequate and a burden on people, and honestly, objectively? I think it evens out to being the life of a decent person. It's just that, we Sparks, we live in the extremes.

Deciding to view myself as essentially a good person is a complicated average of cool stuff and major fails, many of which I wouldn't have been able to pull out from if others hadn't had credit to extend me; not a matter of looking at my days and seeing lots of small, good-enough things. I keep the mad genius archetype around because it it reminds me that others deal with these questions, too, and that my conclusions aren't unique ones, thus less likely to be totally erroneous.
amberite_archive: (yellow sign)
If you ever feel like you are hanging on by a thin thread to an unstable existence, remember: We all are.

Every person in history, remembered or forgotten, has thought their thoughts and made their works from atop that narrow platform of consciousness, bordered by death and uncertainty and meaninglessness.

And yet we have made as much as we have.

Remember: you are here. And by existing you change the world. Even passivity is an active choice. You are singing or playing a note in the song of consciousness, and I thank you for the joy of hearing it.


---

On a related note, I commend the Prime Minister of Britain for his formal apology yesterday for the ignorance and brutality that caused the death of Alan Turing fifty-five years ago this June.
amberite_archive: (chaos)
Today, tomorrow, whenever.

You might lose your job, you might not get a new one.

Anything and anyone you love might reject you.

Love them anyway. Create anyway. Live anyway.

I need to remind myself of this.

I need to remind myself whenever I think of a friend and then don't write them because I'm at a loss for words, or because my instincts tell me to detach, to protect myself from their eventual rejection.

Whenever I find myself putting off the next piece of writing because it's such a long road from the beginning to the end, from the end to the polished draft, from that draft to the recognition.

Whenever I wonder what the point is.

Sometimes, it doesn't feel like there is a point: just a lot of voices singing in the dark.

You can sing or you can be silent. That's the point.

Essay

Jul. 9th, 2007 07:43 pm
amberite_archive: (10/saxon public menace)
I started writing this story, and then I started writing, in my head, the reasons why I had to write the story, and the reasons have gone on in my mind to become something larger than the story. So I might as well write my way to catching up with them. I've tried to use cuts selectively to keep the essay legible to people who don't want spoilers.

Follows, a rant. Age and ageism comprise a big red rant button for me, and maybe I'm not in any place to speak to personal experience of what I'm talking about, but someone who is, might shy from writing similar thoughts because of the constant aimless remarks: "Oh, feeling a little old are we?" and the self-deprecations that deprecate others by association, and the vast pile of cultural crap we have surrounding age. My own sub-rant. ) You can insult someone by calling them young or by calling them old. Some unfortunate people have to deal with both. You can insult someone by calling them an old person trying to be young, or by calling them a young person trying to be old.

Funny how that goes, isn't it? Even in circles where you'd never dream of making a smart remark at someone whose gender identification doesn't match their body, I still occasionally get shit for not being a proper specimen of my age: or of acting 'juvenile' when I'm speaking out about something.

And then, on the other side, we constantly glorify youth and depersonalize older adults. Women bear the brunt of it, but it hits men, too.

What's making me want to talk about this is the Doctor Who finale. )

...Yeah, aren't you forgetting something?

Like the fact that his first onscreen appearance was in this body, and he canonically didn't want to regenerate, held it off for too long because, presumably, he liked the body he was living in, thought it was cool and wanted to keep it?

But no. Old apparently equates to unloved and unloveable; that's the underlying message. That's the message of some things I'm hiding behind a cut to be spoiler-careful. ) And I'm sitting here asking is it really that impossible to face the idea that an older person might be sexy, might be loved, might be loveable?

Because I'm sure doing my best to face that idea. Because it's worth everything, really, it's life itself.

Would I sleep with a 70-year-old now? Well, never say never, but I don't think it's very probable. My cultural reference points connect me to the people I count as friends, mostly people in their twenties through fifties.

But I'd better get adjusted to the idea by the time I'm fifty, because I'm in a long-term relationship with a sizable age difference, and other people get older at the same rate that I do.

I'm amazed by the way many people aggressively forget that.

The fear of age is the fear of other people reminding you that you might not always be the same age you are now; that you might get older; that you might become vulnerable to death.

Well, all of you WILL get older, and you ARE vulnerable to death. (I believe immortality is possible, but: you are vulnerable to death. That's not an if/and/but, there.) Treating people like they don't exist because they're old: WILL NOT CHANGE THAT.

Now, I like slashy fic about two pretty Time Lord twinks as well as anyone else, not least because they're agile and mutable and dynamic, and I think that the love of youth is really the love of dynamicism -- of the ability and potential to change, to grow, to do whatever you want. I think in our minds a young face stands for these things.

I've been in this mindset lately a lot, too: I keep starting new characters in my video game but don't always play out their whole lives -- I begin stories and don't finish them -- I spin out forty project ideas but never finish a project. And, ultimately, it's a mindset that lends itself to frustration. Because nobody remembers the beginning of a good story that never had a middle or an end; nobody gains from it except from the joy of beginning.

If beginning weren't joyful, we'd never begin anything, and that would be worse. But as the only note -- it palls, guys. It gets eerie and broken, and if you never get from the beginning to the middle and the end, it's not really dynamic at all.

And true dynamicism involves learning more than one note. We all must learn to value age because we have it in us, just as we have youth in us, and your life is your whole life. Not just fragments of it, not just paragraphs, but the whole thing measured out across the years of who you are and were and will be. To dismiss the idea that older people can be sexy and dynamic and beautiful and fantastic is to value yourself at half of a person's value and throw half of yourself away.
amberite_archive: (three/master kissmefool)
I'm pretty firmly on the bandwagon: The Doctor and the Master are now my One True Pairing.

I didn't believe there could be an OTP, but I'm now convinced that they're the only possible match for each other... in an unorthodox way. Sad and strange and unstoppable.

Explaining the deep dynamic...

The Master. Where can I begin? He's into the power trip, I think, not because power is ultimately what he craves -- you see, in this last episode, how he acts when he has it; he seems more needy, not less -- but because it's a very effective way of inviting people into the kind of dynamic he wants, and wants desperately.

Across all of space and time, he follows the Doctor around and tries to make himself the biggest thing in the Doctor's world, creating villainous plots like a spray of Time Lord peacock feathers; and he does this in ways that mean that the Doctor would be justified in hurting him very badly. He's been adhering to this pattern since, oh, his first appearance in the Third Doctor era.

And the Doctor will hurt him. Time and again. He'll do it because he's pressed, because it's the only way to resolve a situation. But he won't mean it.

And that's what the Master wants: hurt me and mean it. He has, perhaps, some crosswiring in his head that make him want to be the target of cruelty, the kind of cruelty that requires intense attachment. It fulfills his need for love, his need for attention.

[livejournal.com profile] astrogirl2's fic Eclipsing Binary was quite a good redux of this dynamic -- "The masochist says, 'Hurt me!' And the sadist says, 'No.'", and the Doctor is no sadist.

There's a thing that happens to people in relationships. At some point, someone does something that's drastically against the instincts of the other person -- leaving the stove on with no pans on top, taking the wrong job in the wrong part of town, voting Republican or the local equivalent -- and panic flares. A thought comes up, an urge to love the hopelessly misguided partner and do what's best for them, control their every move, keep them as a cared-for favorite pet...

The baseline contract, spoken or unspoken, of almost every healthy relationship includes a clause to not do that*.

Neither the Doctor or the Master has any idea how to formulate one of these clauses. There are no safewords.

Spoilers abound behind here. )
amberite_archive: (into time... and SPACE!)
One for Harry Potter fans, or simply popculturites...



The other for trans folk talking about surgery.



Please feel free to use these in any way or pass along; do give credit.

I don't know where to put a Harry Potter icon, so if you do, you're welcome to put it there. I know lots of transgender communities, but none for icons, now that I think of it. These ideas just brainwormed me this morning, and I had to share. :-)
amberite_archive: (eye)
I think there's a lot of resonance in her description of her journey for me and there might be for others, so I'm passing it along. (I'd link, but it's locked.)


Synopsis: Sometimes, your life hits a patch of errors. That is not always a terrible, horrible thing. )
amberite_archive: (eye)
I've been aware of this for a while, but it may do me good to remind myself again:

The Message: "Everyone can work forty hours a week -- if you can't, you're lazy or stupid."

The Reality: If you have a full-time-job, a family, a creative life, and a body, the job and the body each take about ten hours per day to maintain in good health. Ten hours counts a short commute / prep time, and counts food and sleep but minimal fitness work, so if you actually want to be fit, count more like an average of ten and a half.

Creative life and family each take about... four hours a day, give or take by day. They can be managed more or less on a weekly scale (eight hours one day, none the next.) Also, the family time is an average: more family takes more time, less family takes less time. I'm assuming that a relationship with one other person is something like a two-and-a-half hour/day situation, vs. raising several children, which is way, way more. But I'm also assuming my family life, which involves two other people, is not too abnormal for a household.

All of this adds up to twenty-eight hours out of a twenty-four hour day.

Most people who have creative & recreational pursuits subtract from sleep (which leads to early aging, heart disease, and car accidents), or subtract from family time (which leads to divorce, or a relationship like the one my parents appear to be having, in which, as my mother grouses, they don't really talk to each other any more though they seem to manage the household all right.)

People who don't have creative pursuits still get into trouble with the need for recreation, or by having children.

Everyone looks at me like I'm insane when I say I can't take a long-term full-time job, and I feel like I'm shooting myself in the foot.

But it's probably better to shoot myself in the foot than it is to pepper my cardiovascular system and brain with a load of free radicals, to knock a bunch of holes in my novel, or to drive a wedge into the middle of my family relationship.

I just hate the limping.

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