Monday, January 14, 2013

How My Mind Works: Random Thoughts

So I'm getting the dishes ready for the dishwasher, contemplating how much I loathe it, and pondering the whys of that. Hot water and soap dry my skin out and make my hands hurt, but that's only incidental. I could wear gloves, but the rubber gloves feel awful and make my hands sweat, and I don't have fine motor control (because they never fit properly) which leads to accidents. No, the real issue is with the bits of food, stuck to things, touched by someone else, cold and sometimes slimy. That made me think about leftovers, and why I don't generally care for them, either. Sure, most food doesn't taste as good reheated as it did when it was prepared, but there's the whole "food handled by someone else" thing. That made me think about the word "trigger" and how it's a pretty commonplace word these days -- "Trigger Warning: This post contains ____, which may cause triggers for some people." I swear I'd never heard it used that way until last year... At the same time I'm contemplating all the triggery grossness of dishwashing, I'm thinking about my daughter*, and wondering if I have trouble functioning with all this going on, what's the world like for her??

This wound around to my general processing style of direction-following, and how I just don't do well with directions and instructions. It's hard for me to read them, to understand them sometimes, and I never know if it's because of them being poorly or oddly written, or if there's something wrong in my head that makes me unable to understand what seems like straightforward stuff. A certain frame of mind might suggest that I have issues with authority, and I agree that I do, but I think both issues stem from a different source than defiance. If you give me a task, but don't tell me how you want it done, I'll figure out what seems like the best way, and do it. If you tell me step-by-step how you want something done, I'll have all kinds of problems. Partly because I can often find some way to do what you're telling me to do that is easier, more efficient, or makes more sense to me. Partly because I hate being micromanaged. I don't like being watched or supervised. Let me be and I'll get it done. But here's the thing: I'll probably look like I'm screwing around, futzing with other things, but what I'm really doing is processing in the background. Previously, managers who knew me, knew to let me do my job. Anytime someone new was around, they usually had problems with the way I worked. My stuff always got done on time, sometimes early, sometimes at the last minute, but it got done. This is one of the reasons I don't do well working for other people.

And this little mental conversation happened while I was loading the dishwasher. I think I got it all down. Certainly this is the gist of it.

I feel compelled to point out that I have never had any issue with reading. I read rather fast, actually, but since I will happily reread books, it still makes sense to buy and not borrow. If I'm especially tired, I tend to see "rivers" in the spaces between words, when the rivers are really not that bad. At right is an example of bad typography. Justifying margins produces rivers of whitespace in text unless you hyphenate words. That is what words on a page look like to me when I'm tired, even if they aren't a typographic nightmare like this example. Those rivers are really distracting; my eyes tend to follow them, and then my brain fills in with an overlay of water and sometimes even the sound of flowing water. So one minute I'm reading along, and the next I am entertaining myself with babbling brook on the page.

It's something that can happen to people with dyslexia or other visual processing disorders. There's an animated gif here showing the river distortion, at the Irlen Institute's website -- they use colored lenses to mitigate various problems with reading difficulties. I've never been diagnosed with dyslexia, and the first time I ever heard about rivers in text as something that was problematic for other people was when I was attending an autism conference, and we learned about the Irlen colored lenses that are supposed to help with visual processing issues. It might help me with my migraines, but I don't know that I want to go find a screener. I've been doing fine for 40 years... Except for the migraines, anyway. And that was a pretty big side-track. *wince* On the other hand, it is a slice of my brain. Metaphorically speaking.

* If you're not familiar with other postings mentioning it, or haven't seen that blog or read my bio, my daughter is autistic, and does have some sensory sensitivities.

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