faevii: "I sacrificed a bathtub for this!" (sacrifice)
My mother and I may agree on a lot more things these days than we used to, which is great, but there are still some themes popping up in our conversations on a regular basis that make me want to bash my palm against my forehead repeatedly.

We just had another one of those If You Would Only Try Harder moments. It's not that she necessarily blames me for my problems or actually says that I could solve them all by myself if I made a bigger effort - she understands now that something is probably "broken" in my actual body* and that my mental issues are more complex than she thought, too. I only get this impression from her when we are discussing an isolated incident rather than the whole picture, such as an appointment that I missed. She remains convinced that I could "make an exception" for those if I really put my mind to it, that I should at least be able to "overcome" my difficulties occasionally because other people occasionally go to work in spite of having the flu as well, and that sort of thing should be perfectly possible for everyone as long as it doesn't happen too often. >_<

I can see the logic behind that, honestly. It's like, if you usually don't get up until 8 am and then one day you suddenly need to catch a plane at 6, of course you will grit your teeth and "just do it" this one time. There's no question about it, that's how life works. So I totally get why she thinks that this should translate to my situation faultlessly, but no amount of logic will make an untrue thing true.

She has a couple of catch phrases relating to this, you know. "Don't try, just act" is perhaps the most infuriating one - only Yoda gets to say anything like that, okay?! If you're not Yoda, then freaking forget about it. THERE IS NO DIFFERENCE BETWEEN TRYING AND DOING IF YOU LITERALLY TRY AS HARD AS YOU CAN, ARGH. No matter from which direction you look at it. "I did it" means that you tried and succeeded, whether you use the word or not - what makes it so hard to imagine that the exact same process could sometimes result in failure??

It's important to be aware of one's own limitations in order to be open to the possibility of working around them. A slightly more reasonable person recently said that she was impressed with my dedication to finding such alternatives. "[Forcing yourself to stay awake the second-to-last night before an appointment] is an awfully huge sacrifice to make," she went on, "you certainly can't be accused of lacking motivation." And you know what? She is right. I never thought of it that way before, but in fact I go out of my way to achieve success through unconventional means. If I didn't do that - if I only ever applied my motivation the traditional way due to believing in some ridiculous, idealistic Jedi crap - then I'd be wasting my life running headfirst into walls all of the time.

Not that it doesn't still happen, mind you. And try as I might, I cannot find a way around every single wall that presents itself to me, either. Motivation isn't magic! They should teach that in schools.

*I don't like to use the word "broken" under normal circumstances, but in this case it's the perfect fit due to the nature of her attitude ...

[A/N: The tag "they do exist" does not refer to Jedis. :P Amusingly, "mrs exasperation" also doesn't refer to my mother. I swear it all makes sense! Most of the time.]

Decisions & Similes

Saturday, July 9th, 2011 05:21 am
faevii: (slice of brain)
I want to create a community, but I'm scared because I've never done that before and people always give off the impression that managing one can be hard work.

... which probably means I should do it. I so rarely find myself in situations where there's an actual choice involved in deciding whether to do something or not; usually I either run into an obstacle before I even get to that point or I don't have any doubts in the first place. There are no in-betweens with me. Usually.

So this is a novel experience. I get to choose! And the worst that can happen is that I end up with a poorly managed, unpopular community that eventually dies out, right? Not exactly a huge risk.

Although, come to think of it - there is that one problem that has nothing to do with being a community maintainer per se. I'm worried that if I attempt to start a discussion, I'll get exactly one reply and be unable to say anything in response. I have mentioned before that reviews and meta posts often make me feel stupid, and so do simple conversations between fans at times. People post their reactions to the latest book or episode and all I can think is, "Wow. I didn't notice ANY OF THESE THINGS."

While I may be good with words, the less said about my observational skills, the better. (I once tried to use a simile to express this, which resulted in a long internal debate on the possibility of sentient brick walls, followed by speculations about the observational skills of trees and deaf moles, respectively. Since then I have aspired to stay as far away from similes as possible.)

Still, I suppose it's not like being The One Who Started It comes with any obligations. And if I feel obliged regardless, I can always say something along the lines of "Congratulations, you have just proven that you're way smarter than I am."

It probably won't get many members, anyway.
faevii: (Default)
Realised that I can still eat dark chocolate. Face, meet palm. I never liked it all that much on its own, but lots of things that happen to be coated with dark chocolate have just become an option again.

Also, I recently discovered how easy to use downloadable subtitles are. I thought I'd have to learn how to install them first and was never in the mood to go looking for a tutorial, so I told myself that it was totally okay if I only understood 60% of what I was watching sometimes. Except it obviously wasn't. This is why I am very happy to have accidentally downloaded a torrent that already included the subtitles for all files, which then turned out to be all simple and self-explanatory! If you use VLC, that is - I don't know about other players.

It was about time I figured that out, too. How did I even make it through five seasons of Doctor Who without subtitles?! There was a point, somewhere along the way, when I asked myself if watching things in English was really worth this much trouble. I very nearly started to consider (LOL) downloading German dubs instead, if available.

Then I realised that I don't actually understand German much better. Haha. I mean, of course there is a difference. I've had 24 years to get used to this language, to identify patterns and become relatively good at guessing what someone might have said if I didn't properly catch it - with English I just don't have that. Still, I've seen things in German that I didn't understand more than maybe 75% of, either. Come to think of it, I've had conversations of which I understood less than that. It's all a question of luck.

So basically, all those times I tried to watch something in English without subtitles because after all I didn't "need" subtitles for German, either? I should have considered the option that maybe I do. The stress I could have been avoiding! >_<

Can't decide what it was that fucked me over: lack of information, internalised ableism or pride. Possibly a combination of all three.

Parenting 101

Tuesday, October 12th, 2010 07:42 pm
faevii: (in the name of justice)
I believe there is one thing that a lot of people need to realise about children:

When a child is "throwing a tantrum" or refusing to do what you say for no apparent reason, chances are that the kid is actually hungry, thirsty, tired, hurting, lonely, confused, scared or overwhelmed by, for example, a loud noise. Something inconspicuous is always going on.

A parent's job is to teach the little ones how to recognise this on their own and to express it in an appropriate manner. That will take a while. In fact, even adults aren't perfect at it. Remember the last time you snapped at someone? Yeah, that.

What I'd like to know is, how exactly is yelling supposed to help there??

Mind you, I'm certainly not in any condition to do my job well all the time. But I have told Timo things like, "Please tell me if something is bothering you." And I have asked him questions like, "Are you sad? Are you angry? Do you, perhaps, wish I could play with you more often?" Imagine how his eyes lit up at that last one.

And even though it may seem silly, I always tell him how I'm feeling myself. "I'm sad because my stomach hurts. Sorry about the yelling; I'm angry with Daddy. Thank you for helping me, now I'm happy." That sort of thing. How could he possibly be familiar with all of that stuff already?

It's amazing how much attention you're rewarded with when you do something like that. Downright fascinating. And fun. My favourite situation is when I'm suggesting alternative reactions to him, watching his expression go from frustrated to curious to amused because I can never resist throwing some completely absurd ideas in there once I'm done with the serious ones. :D

Honestly, it's not that hard ... unless I'm hungry, thirsty, tired, hurting etc. myself - kinda drives the point home, doesn't it?
faevii: (thoughtful rosencrantz)
I just changed my layout back to a premade theme because I wasn't getting anywhere with the customisation and got tired of staring at a half-done job all the time. In the process I noticed that a lot of rather nice-looking themes are available by now, which is awesome! I quite like this one, maybe I'll keep it for a while.

While I was at it, though, I also thought I'd use the opportunity to take some screenshots of all the odd little things that used to make picking a Dreamwidth layout so hard for me. I know it's generally easy to change a handful of details here and there if you're not 100% happy with a theme, but I almost exclusively use the premade ones to get through times when I don't feel up to customising anything, so I still wish there were more to choose from that I could use just the way they are.

I only took screenshots of what I consider to be the five worst offenders. Now, if the creators of those themes happen to read this post, please don't take it personally. I understand that individual tastes differ and what looks like a design error to me might have been a deliberate choice on your part (and even if it wasn't, you don't have to agree that it looks bad). Besides, they're still great themes in general. :)

The purpose of this post is mostly to answer the question "But what IS it that makes people dislike DW layouts?!" that I've seen pop up in various places lately. Here's my take.

pictures of 5 things that bug me )

My main pet peeve is actually sidebar headings that look oddly "caged in" by their surrounding borders because there isn't quite enough padding, but I may be the only person who even notices such tiny details.

(For the curious, I was inspired to do this by the latest news post.)
faevii: (slice of brain)
I'm beginning to get tired of saying this, but I had another lightbulb moment. ;D Don't you just love it when something very spontaneously starts to make sense? As in, you're innocently walking towards the bathroom sink, minding your own business - and all of a sudden the SENSE attacks you out of nowhere?! D: (Okay, apparently I think I'm funny today. I do that sometimes.)

Anyway, you might remember that I've written about the word "crazy" before, and that I said I had trouble understanding why some people found it offensive. Although I recognised that it was more of a personal thing based on unusual connotations, I also had a logical argument to offer: namely that it hasn't been an official term for quite some time now and thus no longer even refers to actual mental illness - or shouldn't, at least.

Here's the thing, though. I just remembered something. I remembered that when I was a child, long before I ever heard of the various types of mental illness that exist, I thought there was a condition called "craziness". I thought that "crazy" people were extremely confused, scary and sometimes dangerous. Most importantly, I was convinced that it was impossible for a crazy person to be aware of their own craziness. That is not okay.

I don't think I picked up this notion anywhere in particular - I probably didn't have to. I mean, what are children supposed to think? What is a five-year-old supposed to think upon hearing someone joke, "if you think you're going crazy, chances are you're not"?

And it's not like I magically stopped thinking this way as soon as I learned about depression and anxiety. I was only surprised, for a moment, that there were mental illnesses that didn't make you properly crazy. Schizophrenia, though? Surely, that must be the "real" craziness! I believe I was a teenager by the time I reached this point, and fortunately I never stopped learning. Others get stuck somewhere along the way, and THAT'S why it's a problem. Lo and behold, I get it now!

Of course we're not all spreading harmful misinformation every single time we use the word. "I'm crazy busy!" or "That was a crazy party!" hardly tell children anything about its meaning. However, those phrases do distract from the fact that it has a meaning, and don't do anything to counteract the misinformation that's already circulating. "You'd have to be crazy in order to think that!" or "What a crazy bitch!" confirm that it must mean something bad, though, and reinforce actual bigots in their thinking.

That's the crucial point: We, the people who can make it through an entire post about this topic, are hardly the problem. We just accidentally encourage those who are and make it harder for anyone to identify them - we unknowingly provide them with cover and ammunition.

I refuse to participate in any of that. I won't use the word anymore unless I'm calling myself crazy in a value-neutral way. :) It's not about being "politically correct" or never wanting to piss anyone off, ever - I just really dislike misinformation. Also, plz to not be teaching the next generation that people like me are all monsters.
faevii: (in the name of justice)
OMG, why oh why did somebody link me to this terrible failboat of a comment thread? Aaahh!!

I don't expect any of you to read it, or much of it. I'm just including the link to explain where this sudden bout of outrage is coming from.

Honestly, people of the world - when you complain about having to listen to a child cry, ZOMG, does it not occur to you that you might be talking about A SAD, SCARED OR OTHERWISE SUFFERING PERSON?? If you, yourself, have never broken down crying in public, good for you. It has happened to me. I was 21. I AM NOT FREAKING SORRY. Same for children who are outright screaming: I have screamed when I was in pain, but luckily I was not in public at the time. If I had been, would you have felt annoyed or concerned??

Sure, children are way more likely than adults to scream instead of crying silently. Children also, occasionally, cry or scream for silly reasons. Does that mean the one child you saw on the bus the other day was definitely not in pain or scared? Nope. So STFU.

Also, adults are loud sometimes. Adults are rude sometimes. Nobody's saying that loud people (young or old) shouldn't be asked to leave if they're disturbing the athmosphere of a library or a fancy restaurant. But you can't tell these people (young or old) from others before they enter, so if you want to keep all children out of libraries and fancy restaurants, you're not only discriminating against quiet children, but you're also doing nothing to protect yourself from loud adults. Likewise, nobody's saying that rude people (young or old) can't ruin your evening out and that you should simply learn to tolerate them better. But when mothers are upset because they feel like they can't go anywhere unless they leave their children with a babysitter, the right course of action is NOT to point out that a kid poured wine on your shirt once.

What I'm seeing there reminds me of the time I made a post that was essentially about being nicer to people who aren't very intelligent, and hilariously some of the comments were like, "OMG you want stupid people to be surgeons!" or "OMG you're a socialist - well guess what, there'd be no place for stupid people in a socialist society either!!" o_O All I wanted was to question the prevalent attitude that it's completely okay to make fun of people for being "stupid" and that someone who doesn't have the skills to take on a higher-paying job totally "deserves" to be poor. I don't know what my IQ is, but I didn't pick it on purpose. I didn't choose to be good at mathematics, physics and languages, either. It just happened. Am I supposed to feel superior due to this stroke of luck or something?

As a matter of fact, I don't want intelligent people with atrocious fine motor skills to become surgeons, either. That's not discrimination, that just MAKES SENSE. But if you had to be a surgeon in order to not be poor and I said, "Well, your fine motor skills suck, so what's it to me if you're struggling to survive!" - that would be quite unfair.

(Also, I'm not a socialist. Just for the record. Nice try though.)

I don't know why this happens. I don't know why, if someone nicely suggests that we be a little nicer to children, people get all up in arms about it, either. Nobody's asking you to NOT BE ANNOYED by stupid people or children - or stupid children, for that matter (lulz, ain't I funny). Just, how about not glaring at them before they've even done anything. How about considering that they might have feelings. How about trying to imagine how frustrating it can be to be a child (or to be considered stupid). How about reprimanding people for concrete actions instead of judging them in advance. Is that rocket science?

When I see a crying child, I wonder WHY. You'd think I was some sort of freak.

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