February 15th, 2011


Going just a little too fast; Ordinary Days review

First, some Twitter links: a beginner's intro and how Twitter has changed the world.

People comment on how much energy I have. It surprises them that I can do as much as I do. I think part of it is that I keep going after I run out of energy - I can get by on willpower and fumes, and the willpower carries me on much longer than most people do. Good or bad, who knows.

At any rate, this weekend was a classic example of me doing ten times more than any normal human being. It started Thursday night, when I left work to go to ... Germany! My flight left late and by the time the slow PM train connections kicked in, it was 1:30AM when I finally got to my hotel at Bochum. The nice thing was that I made good progress reading a great new (to me) mystery series, "The Coroner's Lunch" by Colin Cotterill, during all of that flying time. But worn out I was.

The next morning (a mere 8 hours of sleep later), it was a German breakfast, a visit to the tea store, and then off to Dortmund, where we were going because, apparently, it was close. The churches and architecture weren't great (I think it was heavily bombed), but the "Dortmund U" museum had a pretty good collection, although the Fluxus art was exactly the kind of pretentious wank exedore hates. However; chocolate covered garden gnome!

After a lunch on the go, we went to the train station again, not to go back, but to go to Unna for the Light Museum. It's an old brewery with a bunch of custom installations in it (and some not so custom): my favorites were the James Turrell piece (the usual "room with white panel in back and changing array of colors) and the thing with the strobe-lit raindrops falling down in a curtain on both sides of a walkway. A lot of it was uninspired neon but ... overall it was a great museum.

Then we headed back to Bochum, had a short turnaround for dinner, and went out for the main event: Starlight Express at a custom-built theater. Yes, it was in German, yes, it was fun, like the Transformers meets Xanadu. But at the end of the night I was cream crackered, willing to pay for a taxi to save us the walk to the hotel (I didn't have 20 more minutes in my feet), and in bed ten minutes after we arrived.

The next morning exedore left early. I had more time but couldn't sleep much longer; it was sad as I didn't wind up getting to London until 4 PM but was really worn out for no good reason. And yet I went out, to see the musical Ordinary Days at Trafalgar Studios. I'd said I'd go dancing with lovelybug afterwards, but walking out of Charing Cross station I realized I probably would have benefited from skipping the play and went back home immediately after the show.

Sunday was chill out day at last. I was wanting to see people though, and got lucky as babysimon was up for lunch and came with a bonus trishpiglet, who gave me homemade cupcakes <3 . Then the three of us went shopping; bliss for me as I've been a solo shopper regularly for nearly a year now. I also had a wechslercat for dinner and Attenborough watching, so it was a good evening.

Last night meanwhile was the new Frankenstein production at the National Theater. They had two actors who were flat as pancakes, but a much bigger problem was the script. I'll do a full writeup today (I think), but I'm starting to agree with people who say it has no interval because they don't want to lose the audience. I suspect most of the people coming just want to see the TV star live, and, well, he does roll around naked for about the first ten minutes - but as the role is dual cast, I got the other guy. Ah well, at least I got to see a naked guy on Valentine's Day, so it wasn't a completely wasted evening and the company was good.
Tiger monkey

Schema therapy the fourth

At the end of today's session (at which I just talked but we didn't seem to do anything special), I said, "Wow, we're already four sessions in - you've pretty well got me figured out by now and ought to be able to tell me the solutions to my problems, right?"

My therapist paused for a long while and said, "Do you mean that?"

I waited just long enough and said, "Naw, man, I'm totally pulling your leg." He looked relieved.

Anyway, so today I spent a lot of time looking at why people reject me. There's two "schemas" at play here: the worthlessness one and the social exclusion one. Worthlessness makes you expect people to reject you because that's what you deserve; social exclusion ... well, it can be something you imagine, or (key thing from the book) it can be real. I have plenty of examples of hit happening, from Matt from my senior year in high school to the pretty boy who told me to my face while I was in China in college that even though I was smart and cool he'd never hang out with me because the other kids didn't like me to Ivana the Russian girl who just stopped returning my calls and of course Ann who was my best friend for three of my years in Seattle and then shut the door in my face when I came by her house with a present I'd picked up for her in Florida.

The book says when it's NOT your imagination (and obviously this isn't, plus it's not something just from my childhood that still scars me) that you have to look at your behavior - but the book gives no clues as to how to tell what you're doing to drive people away. I try to avoid being clingy or trying to draw attention to myself (though I am naturally exuberant) as those are two things I see as being desperate. The counsellor suggested that perhaps I am "insensitive to other people's inner child" and am unknowingly cruel (not his words) because I'm not aware of people's feelings and don't think about how deeply my words might hurt them or how much impact I might have on them (an easy assumption when you think you're worthless and thus forgettable).

Oddly I try really hard to pay attention to people's feelings but I still just utterly miss things and I don't know that I've said something that's offensive or hurtful or upsetting. And when you know you're bad at this and you really try to pay attention but you still get it wrong, and, brother, I've been working on this for 15 years now, just what are you supposed to do to try to get it right?

I read a Dan Savage column some years back that said that normal people don't want to have big scenes when they don't want to be friends with/date someone any more, they'd rather just say, "Oh, it's me," even though it's clearly not true. This was a revelation to me, that people could figure it out just by you choosing not to hang out with them anymore, and it's true; when you do this, people don't usually ask why you're blowing them off. They get the social signals. I had to be told. But then, there's this part of me that thinks, if I really care about someone and they're doing something so horrible that it's driving me away, don't I owe them the right to change their behavior? Lately I find myself tongue-tied because I want to help them but then I think either I'll damage their self-esteem horribly by saying something negative.

But what's worse is when I think they just won't listen, or that they can't change even if I tell them. And then I realize, well, giving up really is the best option rather than saying anything, as I'd just cause damage and accomplish nothing. So I say nothing.

Anyway, it was a session with a lot of talking on my part. People will probably continue to reject me my entire life. I will continue to say things that are upsetting because I can't figure out the social rules and I just don't seem to have the capacity to learn how to do it - and you can't implant a chip that teaches you what you don't know.

It's four sessions on and I haven't got anywhere. We'll see how it goes. It's all rather expensive, to be honest, and when May comes around if I'm not feeling like I'm accomplishing anything, I'll have to seriously reconsider whether or not it's worth continuing.

Afterwards I zipped back into town and went and saw the Putnam County Spelling Bee at the Donmar for the grand price of ten quid. Now there's some therapy I can really get behind. Does it really fix me? No, but it makes me feel better for tonight, and if the things that are wrong with me can't be fixed, then maybe what I need to do is work harder on being happy and stop worrying so much about what I can't change. For now, I am still trying to figure out what is changeable, so I'll keep going for the three months I've agreed to and see how it all feels.

Tomorrow I'm working up north, and with luck, I'll catch up with my reviews of Frankenstein and Spelling Bee. Ah, writing, my great albatross. But for now, bed.