Wednesday, 29 February 2012

I'm Sorry, But Our Operating Systems are Incompatible

Do you ever experience those Zen moments when everything falls into place,  and the words and metaphors you usually need to grab for just pop into your head? When you have that instant of perfect clarity and you can explain EXACTLY what you mean in such a way that it's like you're painting a digital image for your listener? They sure don't happen to me often, at least not in conversation. Those of you who have ever managed to get through a whole meaningful conversation with me know what I mean. There are a lot of false starts, and side tracks, and long pauses where I'm searching for a word that means exactly what I need to say. When your vocabulary puts in the 99.5th VIQ* percentile, that's a lot of words to choose from. It's like having MSWord running in my head, but it occasionally runs much slower than my mouth does. [The thing is: I talk like I write. Rather, I write like I talk. The difference is that in my writing I can do all of the editing in private and long before I send it out to the world. I can put it away and read it over time and again until it sounds right in my head before I hit the SEND or POST buttons. Language is how I relate to the world. If I could have every aspect of my every day scripted, edited, revised, rehearsed and memorised, I could run this bloody country. ] See that? Sidetrack. was the Zen. I was speaking with a young man at the grocery store. I talk to strangers. A lot. Buy me a t-shirt that says that and I will love you forever, in a total nonsexual way. Unless, you know, you're of age and  you're into that. I was trying to explain my disability to him. For those of you who didn't know I identify as having a Severe Learning Disability (and to paraphrase Dr. Sheldon Cooper, I have the test results to prove it!) that's known as Nonverbal Learning Disability. Here's the Wiki: .

The metaphor came to me like this: imagine your brain is a computer. Not hard, right? You know how there are dozens, if not hundreds, of programs on your hard drive. Imagine, though, that you have a hard drive that frequently runs programs that should just run silently in the background suddenly take over all your RAM. Tech experts; excuse my butchering terminology. I know my computer has RAM, and that means Random Access Memory, I think...but I know enough to know it's important.....Blue screen of death, no doubt, or "{Your Evil Overlord Operating System } has recovered from a serious error." That's me. There are parts of my brain that function incredibly well. To continue the metaphor, my word processing program PWNS, dude! My internal thesaurus scores in the 99.5th percentile! My cromulescence** never ends! In fact, it extends to a ridiculous ability to mimic accents and learn languages. You ought to see how freaked out Mandarin speakers get when I say to them "I don't understand what you're talking about" in Mandarin. In other areas, though, it's about as sophisticated as a Commodore 64.

I have minimal sense of direction, and really poor spatial awareness. Physically, I mean. I can parallel park either one of my cars like a boss! I bump into furniture, counters, doorknobs, the undersides of desks, cupboards, and today, a 50 inch TV set with my head! An honest to God, pound on the floor tantrum helped somewhat with the resulting frustration. I also fall down a lot. Like, a lot. It's particularly bad with stairs. And uneven pavement. Or if I happen to experience vertigo while hurrying across uneven pavement in a parking lot...I'm like the opposite of a Weebil, even after losing almost 75 pounds. If I wobble, I am sure as shit falling down.  If I am walking, and I stumble, there is a greater than 90% chance*** I'll fall ass over teakettle on my way to a scrape here, cut there, occasional scar, etc.I think my personal record, not counting when I used to drink excessively, is three falls in one week resulting in minor injuries. I continue to regret not letting the doctors at the local hospital examine my knee after I smashed it against an automatic door track when I fainted in their doorway....because I smashed the hell out of it. It was lumpy for weeks, in a way that kneecaps were not meant to be lumpy. Still hurts when I kneel on it wrong.

If you've ever been in my classroom, or my home, you know that while my creative enthusiasms and, dare I say it, abilities, are numerous, my organisational skills are....profoundly lacking. [Or,to again butcher the phraseology of my beloved Dr. Sheldon Cooper****, in my organisational paradigm, silverware on the couch is perfectly valid!) The more chaotic things get internally, the more chaotic things get externally. The more anxious I get about the chaos, the less able I am to function on anything but the most basic level. The anxiety mounts to a breaking point, at which point I generally crash into a depression. If you're reading this and thinking "What? Heather's had depression? I had no idea!" then either a) you don't know me in real life, or b) you DO know me in real life, but I've never trusted you enough to drop the "Play Normal" act. Or c) you have difficulty recognising human emotional states. If you come to my house and it's spotless, I've either been scrubbing for hours, or things are functioning pretty well. Or I haven't been home in days. Or all of the above. A popular ie: frequently played game in our house is called "This Doesn't Go Here". It's like something from Sesame Street but with more sarcasm and profanity.When I cook, as I cook, I have to keep a running under my breath commentary or internal dialogue that goes something like this;
Dude, where's my mug? Ah....mug found. OK. Now where's the damn coffee?

Coffee is located in the cupboard where it goes! Score! Filters? YES! Scoop? Scoooop? No frigging scoop. [search in several unlikely places, until scoop is located in dishwasher.] Filter is loaded, water is poured. Now I just need a pinch of salt. *spend 10 minutes or so tracking down the salt. Locate salt shaker on the living room floor****. Spend 20 minutes faffing about on bloody Facebook while coffee brews.*

OK....cream. Pour the cream. Pour the coffee in. Add the Splenda. Throw the wrappers away. Stir your coffee. Put your spoon next to the coffee pot. Grab a clean cloth and wipe up the coffee and cream you spilled. Put the cream back in the fridge.

 And without word of a lie, unless I go through that task that thoroughly from beginning to end, there will be wrappers on the counter all day long, and puddles of coffee drying in rings on the counters, and smears of jam on the kitchen island...because once I'm done drinking the coffee, I've long forgotten about spills and wrappers, and I've left the half full coffee cup on the table, and gone back to the internet 4 or 5 times, and possibly gone outside three or four times to try and photograph the hummingbirds in my backyard...

I could go on, and on, but I sort of have already, haven't I?

To sum up: I'm not crazy, my operating system just doesn't conform to your plug and play apparatus.

Oh yes, and my internal spell check sticks to Canadian/Commonwealth spellings, no matter how many updates I'm unwillingly forced into.

Notes: Oh come on, you knew I'd get to the asterixes eventually!
*VIQ: Verbal Intelligence Score. One half of the score that makes up your total IQ. 
**The state of being cromulent. What? It's a perfectly cromulent word.
***Like they say, 85% of statistics are made up on the spot. I just know it's way more likely than not.
****Yes, I am perfectly aware that he is a fictional character. Your point?
****These asterixes were a pain in the ass. Next time, I'm figuring out footnotes.

Welcome to my World

Won't you come on in?

You may know me as Wildheather, or Birdy, or even as Ms. S. You might have even met me once or twice in person. However, with the exception of one or two of me, you don't know me. Rather, you only know the persona that I wear in public. The private me is someone quite different than that person, and very few people ever get to see past the bluff. With that in mind, and with the purpose of helping me bring more of my authentic self to the surface, I've decided to open up JUST a little bit more of myself to the world outside.

Some of what I have to say may surprise you. Some of you may not like some of what I have to say. That's okay with me: if you don't like it, you always have two options: read it and disagree, or don't read it. It's unlikely that you'll manage to change my mind, so arguing won't do either of us any good. (Besides, no one really wins an argument on the internet, do they?) But here goes nothing....feel free to tag along.