Writer’s Paralysis

Writer’s paralysis. It’s not quite the same as writer’s block. With paralysis, you have so much stuff in your head to write about, you don’t know where to begin. You pick up your laptop, open up your program of choice, and you’re faced with the blank page. You can’t pick just one thing to start with. There is no gentle flow of writing or a coherent flow of a story. There is no river of creativity flowing from you. If you write, the dam will break and the flood will come forth. Chaos will ensue and all you will have is … the wreck that was in your mind. No one will understand. Possibly, not even yourself.

My son writes. He showed me this tool to get past the paralysis. I hope it works. It’s a website that doesn’t allow you to see what you’re typing. You can’t backspace, either…

… That was the beginning of a lengthy entry I wrote on July 6th. I decided not to post it because the rest of the entry contained a lot of very personal information (everything going on in my head right now causing writer’s paralysis).

But the tool my kid showed me was amazing, and I want to share it with everyone. As writers/bloggers, we all run across writer’s block or writer’s paralysis every now and then. When you can’t figure out what’s causing it or you can’t see a way around it, this should do the trick. Just sit down and start “blind typing”, and regurgitate whatever is in your head. Eventually, something will come out.

http://ilys.com

Happy writing, and I’ll see y’all again soon!

— Duch

Loss

We lost one of our furry children this week. Sasha was a birthday present for Mr. Magick Man when she was just a puppy, 11+ years ago. She was his baby girl.

I would go into a memorial for Sasha, but really, that’s not what this post is about. This is a post of observation and learning.

Sasha passed away yesterday morning. I made a memorial post on my Facebook account rather than making a public blog post. People on my friends list knew her and I thought this was more appropriate. What I’ve observed is the general response to a person’s grief (whether the person who passed is a family member of the 2-legged or 4-legged variety). What horrifies me is that I may have been guilty (at one time or another) of some of the things that have offended me over the past 24 hours, myself. This inspired me to write, tonight, on how we might respond to a grieving friend when we see a post about his or her loss:

  • Expressing shock and sympathy
  • “OMG, I’m so sorry!! :: hugs ::
  • Emotional support
  • If you are in this person’s close circle of friends
    • CALL THE PERSON
    • He or she may have posted a memorial post, but a phone call is so much more personal. If someone is grieving, they need that personal contact, not a “comment”, or a text. They need your time if you’re in their closer circle of friends.

What not to do:

  • DO NOT SHARE THE PERSON’S POST
    • Your friend just posted a memorial post. You don’t know if this post is limited to a certain group of friends or if it is just on this person’s friends list. Most likely, it is not a public post. Why on earth would you share this post? Yes, I have seen this done to other grieving individuals.
  • Do not tell the person about your past experience with your dead cat/dog/brother/aunt/etc… This is not about you. It is possible to express sympathy (even express empathy) without relaying your story. The person grieving does not want to hear your story. If they weren’t grieving, they would care, but right now they just can’t.
    • This is the one that eats at me. This is the one I’m horrified I may have done in the past. If I’ve ever done this to anyone I am so sorry. In the past 24 hours people have done this to me and I know just how much you probably wanted to beat me over the head or tell me to just STFU.

Part of me reads what I just typed and says, “Hon, don’t post this. It’s just the grief and you’ll regret this post in a few days.” But really, that’s what this post is about – responding to a grieving friend. My reactions to the responses I received may be on the far end of the scale. One could say I’m overreacting and emotional right now; but that’s the point. When one is communicating with a grieving friend in that frame of mind, one needs to handle communication appropriately. The time for sharing stories is after the grieving is over. If you really feel the need to share any posts, you should at least ask the person first and explain why; and if the person declines then respect that decision.

I’m off my soapbox for the night. Peace and love. I’m going to go love my other dog and my kitties.

On Teens, Taking Ownership, and a Very Frustrated Mom

I’ve only got the one teen, but I’ve been assured this is a normal phase for his age. Regardless, I believe it’s important that as parents, we teach responsibility to our kids early. When they start taking ownership for the little things now, it only makes things easier when they get out there in the real world as adults.

There are times I find myself … frustrated with my teenboy.

Oh The Stress

He is 15. At his age, we should not have to remind him about the little things, like things he’s responsible for around the house on a regular basis, or, oh… basic hygiene.

As parents, we have to take ownership in this problem, too. We’ve fallen into the trap of reminding him to take care of these things for far too long. As I recall saying to my sister at the age of 14 when she asked me why I kept forgetting to take my seizure control medications, “Why should I remember? Everyone keeps reminding me.” I was a snotty little teen back then. But at least I smelled good. Why anyone put up with that attitude back then I have no idea…

But I digress.

We’re doing now what someone should have done for me back then. We’re laying out clear expectations.

The boy has a week to adjust, and then he’s on his own. If he doesn’t take responsibility for what’s on his list, he loses privileges (the cell phone we pay for, internet access we pay for, etc…). He enjoys writing and I won’t take that away, but he can write old-style, with pen and paper. I figure one or two times and this won’t be an issue anymore.

The list he has on his door and on the fridge:

Teenboy Responsibilities

 

Some may think this is a bit harsh; however, the teenboy does have an excuse or an argument for delaying, not doing, or forgetting to do everything. We aren’t shutting him down from communication. We want him to communicate proactively. We also want him to communicate if an issue arises (for example, technical difficulties with the washer). Taking ownership of “I forgot” and admitting one’s mistakes is also an important part of growing up.

An Exercise in Poor Judgment and Miscommunication

On Monday of this week, the Army had a training exercise in the city of Houston. They used an occupied, urban area, in the middle of the day. This was a full scale, military exercise, complete with helicopters, troops, and gunfire.

Civilians in the area were not given advance notice of this exercise.

As stated in the link below, it appeared there was “a massive SWAT scene happening.” Neighbors contacted family members to warn them not to come home because, “it sounds like we’re in a war zone. Guns, shooting, helicopters flying around the house…”

Army drill scares residents on Houston’s south side

Neighborhood schools were unaware of the exercise and were placed under lockdown.

God forbid, what if someone had a CHL in that situation? Or even if they didn’t? You’re allowed to defend your home in this country. What if some nutjob conspiracy theorist really thought our own troops are finally being deployed on American soil? I don’t have to tell you what would have happened. We all know that picture – the person would get one shot off, unnecessarily wound or kill a soldier, and the troops would open fire. Civilians would see what happened and freak out. Conspiracy theorists would think the worst.

All because this whole thing wasn’t communicated. We’re damn lucky something like that didn’t happen. It’s bad enough we had a neighborhood of traumatized civilians who didn’t know this was just a training exercise. They had to endure the sounds of wargames going on all around their homes while they hid in their closets and their bathtubs wondering what was going on. Was someone being hunted? Was a terrorist on the loose in the neighborhood? Could someone come bursting through their door at any moment? Were they safe?

I write about this today because I saw another article this morning:

Army to use old jail in Galveston for Training Exercises Today

The Army is going to do another training exercise in Galveston tonight. At least, this time, they’re giving some advance notice. I hope people in Galveston catch this news announcement.

You know, I understand the military’s need to do these urban warfare exercises. You can’t truly simulate a live urban environment on base if you don’t have civilians involved. However, I still think they could do these exercises on base and involve non-military individuals to play a part. I know, I have no military experience and I’m sure I’m missing the aspect of the whole “wargame” experience. But Monday’s situation was uncalled for. An apology just doesn’t undo the trauma these people experienced. The men and women enlisted are trained to handle these types of situations. Your average civilian isn’t prepared to handle warfare on the streets, nor does he or she  ever expect to be exposed to something of that nature.

“Urban warfare?” Ok, I need to hear from some of you out there who have a military background or know someone who does. What kind of training is that and why would the military need to do these training exercises in our neighborhoods?

Communication in our Digital World

I made it twelve days on my Facebook/G+ blackout. I would have made it longer, but I do see notifications pop-up on my phone. I did well ignoring status updates. What got me was the timing of an update from my best friend.

It’s a bit like getting a phone call from someone in the middle of the night – you know someone is either badly hurt or dying. Lyl is not a morning person. If she makes a status update at the crack of dawn, something is wrong. Being there for my best friend is more important than completely abstaining from social media. I logged into FB, read her post, and it confirmed what I’d already thought was going on. But rather than comment, I called her.

What You Say and How You Say It

When you call someone who’s just gone through a traumatic event, or who’s in an emotional crisis, sometimes the words just seem so empty. When you deliver these words live, whether on the phone or in person, it seems quite awkward. You never know if you are saying the right thing or if you’re really offering any comfort to the person. Online, though, we can stop and think about what we say. We can create a first draft, a second draft…when we have our final and hit send we’re hopefully more confident our words have been of some use.  Sherry Turkle covers this quite nicely in her TED talk, Alone Together“.

Adjusting the Dial Tone

Different people have different methods for dealing with that type of stress. For example, an extrovert would need “people time” in order to recharge and get out of the downward spiral. However, an introvert just needs “alone time”. This is where I can see an upside of FB and G+: It allows a nice balance for the two. People can communicate with each other and at the same time choose how much interaction they want on a daily basis.

Definitions we should all know

What Did I Change?

I changed my awareness. I’ve “officially” been back since November 17, but I don’t check Facebook or G+ every day. I don’t think about them as a primary form of communication anymore. I suppose you could say I’m adjusting my own dial tone, and trying to bring a balance of communication into my life.

Six days and counting

Today is Sunday. I’ve made it six days without checking Facebook or Google+. I’ve found I’m not as twitchy as I was a couple of days ago; but I did have the distraction of working renfaire this weekend.

Off to catch up on homework for this week. Meanwhile, here’s an edited graphic from my previous post:

If communication is your vice, TALK to someone about it.

 

Have a great day, everyone!

A year goes by

It’s Saturday morning. I should not be up at the ungodly hour of 5:30am. I don’t have to be awake this early. I’m writing this morning because I woke from a dream that stirred a bit of melancholy within me.

You see, a year ago yesterday, my long-term working relationship ended with my former employer. Given the current economy, I understand this happens to a lot of people. In my former position, one of the things I got to do was travel to India once or twice a year. I considered myself lucky.

Last night I dreamed I was in Bangalore.

There was some festival going on and we were at some temple. It was beautiful. There was music and dancing. I got to participate at some point, because I was visiting. There was a waterfall nearby, some of the water splashed in my face as I was laughing and it got in my mouth. I remember thinking, “Oh, crap. I’m going to be sick for the rest of the trip.” But I kept dancing and enjoying the moment because it was a new experience, and I never knew if I was going to come back (we all had that attitude about the trips to India).

Then I woke up.

There are things that I do not miss about my former working environment, but there are things that I miss very much. I miss some of the people I worked with. I miss the travel opportunities, exposure to different cultures and new experiences.

A year later, I still grieve the ending of the long-term working relationship. I was with that company for just one month shy of 13 years. It’s uncommon to find someone who’s worked with a company longer than 5 years anymore. However, there are those “long-timers” out there.

With the current U.S. economy, many of these “long-timers” are finding themselves at the bad end of a business decision. So what happens to that long-timer? How does that person handle the end of that working relationship?

It’s a lot like a divorce. The emotions are identical. It even follows closely to what occurs when the couple has that final “it’s over” discussion:

  1. You have a private discussion with your manager. This is where you’re told “it’s over”. Your reaction may vary. You may immediately go to anger here. You may step over to “isn’t there something we can do?” Or, you may follow the path of the victim and ask, “what did I do wrong?”
  2. You’re packing your things (or maybe that’s done for you). You’re in shock.
  3. You’re at home now, just you and your boxes. It sinks in now.
      • Anger
      • Rejection
      • Betrayal
      • Sadness
      • Fear

And how about those former co-workers? Aren’t those some awkward conversations after the fact? It’s like running into that one person who managed to remain friends with both of you after the divorce – the friendship remained but it never was quite the same.

I’ve lost touch with nearly everyone I used to work with. I’m not upset about this, nor am I offended in any manner. It is awkward. What do you say when you are still working for the company? Or maybe it’s just my perception and I’m pushing them away. That is quite possible. Communicating with them reminds me they used to be co-workers and they aren’t anymore. It reminds me of the former relationship. Perhaps it’s a little bit of both.

Regardless, I made it through a year of emotional growth and change. It’s been an interesting ride.