Mapping and Dream Interpretation

I had an epiphany on my way to work, in the form of a false memory. Bear with me here - this may get a bit convoluted.

A chain of tangentially-related but mostly insignificant memories marched through the front of my brain: saw a car that reminded me of a former coworker who drove one; couldn't remember her name but remembered a different coworker's name. Remembered the bellman who gave that coworker a nickname. Nothing important.

But then I realised I was remembering the wrong bellman. If you have worked in hotels, or stayed in them often, you know there's That Guy Bellman - the one who's been there forever and knows everyone and everything. He's a pleasant fellow and you are glad of his welcome when you arrive, whether you are a guest or employee.  The incidence of there being That Guy at every hotel is an isomorphism. The pattern is so similar that you can mentally map it from one set to the other.

In my false memory, I clearly remembered That Guy from the last…

The Things Nobody Tells You, aka How to Be a Girl

I spent a minute today remembering the awesome awkwardness of being a teenage girl. While I waited in the grocery parking lot to get in my car, a mother coaxed her daughter out of their SUV's back seat. The girl was lanky, blushing, unsure of the outfit that her friends probably approved. Her mom smiled behind her and winked at me as they passed. She was really happy with her girl.

I was a teenage girl, you know, between the tree-climbing moments, the bookworm moments, the crazed artistic moments when I threw and broke things I'd made with my own hands.

You feel yourself growing into new bones. You know other people - mostly boys and nosy aunties - are checking your front-side for bumps, signs of some imagined ripeness you can't comprehend. Sometimes you actually do feel ripe, and it's both glorious and horrible; you wonder if you should choose. You can't choose, vacillating between that thresh-hold of newness and the terror of familiarity being stripped away. It&…

My New Normal vs. Counterfactuals

My writers' group talked a great deal tonight about audience, as in "who is your - ". We're impressed by the new generation's (lack of) attention span, juxtaposed against the fact that people still read Haruki Marukami and Arundhati Roy. We know that we have to do what we do, and not tailor our work to fit the market, but we admire people who do that, or otherwise manage to fit.

I can't tell you about the time I met Nicholas Sparks, because he was pretending he wasn't him (not realising I had no idea who he was and didn't care - just please check into your room, Sir.)  He is a proponent of simplifying language and his method has merit.

When I arrived at my Tiny Cottage after the meeting, I found my little yellow bucket hanging from the doorknob for the second time, and I knew there would be a message therein.

The bucket came to me from Alia, filled with flowers for Mother's Day. It sits on a wooden easel outside my door for no reason other than I…

Learning How to Be Wrong (Also Happy Birthday, Baby Yaya)

I used to get into playground arguments as early as first grade. I read a lot of books and I had pretty good recall - still do.  If I see something in print, good chance I will remember most of it. So I was prepared to defend my knowledge, to the death if necessary, out among the chain-swings.

I can't say with certainty that I could fight for the same truths I defended back then. Kipling still wrote Toomai of the Elephants; yet Pluto did a stint as Not-a-Planet not that long ago.Thanks to other intelligent and searching people in the world, science continues to make advancements. Truth doesn't change, but what we know of it does.

There are many ways to be wrong. When I started writing this post I was going after How to Cop to Having Been Incorrect, because that's like the seventh layer of adulting. On the grand scale of how to be wrong, though, it would serve us well to have several options in the toolbox.
Be willing and ready to backpedal.  Willing and ready are not inter…

Why Linear Thinking is Bollocks (and thank goodness I can't do it)

Dr. Douglas R. Hofstadter, Godel, Escher, Bach - an Eternal Golden Braid: "In the early days it was assumed that knowledge came in sentence-like packets, and that the best way to implant knowledge into a program was to develop a simple way of translating facts into small passive packets of data. Then every fact would simply be a piece of data, accessible to the programs using it. This is exemplified by chess programs, where board Positions are coded into matrices or lists of some sort and stored efficiently in memory where they can be retrieved and acted upon by subroutines.
The fact that human beings store facts in a more complicated way was known to psychologists for quite a while and has only recently been rediscovered by AI workers, who are now confronting the problems of "chunked" knowledge, and the difference between procedural and declarative types of knowledge, which is related, as we saw in Chapter XI, to the difference between knowledge which is …

Survivor's Remorse - Leaving the Demons' Door Open

My friend Diana has multiple disabilities and, like any of us, has good days and bad days. Unlike many of us, her bad days are slowly getting worse and her good days are starting to have further distance between them.  On the long graph, her health is unlikely to improve.

As I separate myself from the life I had with my second husband, nice but toxic on many levels, I am slowly getting better. My health, my attitude, my productivity...someone complimented me because he suddenly finds me bordering the realm of Attractive. I'm not impressed, but it's worth mention this time - today I am not wearing makeup nor did I make any effort to be presentable. Dood finally nailed it: I look happy. I am happy. Diana is happy, too, but she is not getting better.

We share many interests and have deep conversations, not often enough. Diana sometimes doesn't feel up to it, or so I assume - I ask how she's feeling today; she says she feels fine. I could believe I'm imagining the en…

What We Are Not vs. Math, Art, Music, and Emails

My book club is going to wrap upGödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid in November. We're looking for something equally pithy on which to digress next. We enjoy our digressions so much that they leak over into email in the weeks between meetings. Barney Sperlin sent us this excerpt from a discussion on Quora:
Math is not something boys are better at, it's not a spectator sport, it's not a system of arbitrary rules, it's not dependent on the laws of physics, it's not easier or better in base 12 or base π, it's not a young person's game, it's not useless in the real world, it's not beholden to the real world, it's not learnable in one year or from one book or one website, it is not particularly interested in the golden ratio or the digits of pi or trivial calculation tricks that aren't actually from the Vedas, it is not always explainable to a 6-year-old or in "layman's terms", it's not beyond your grasp if you …

Be the Gravy

Before you can accept people for who they are and what they have to offer

you have to accept yourself and what you can offer to yourself. It is a lonely place to start, but absolutely necessary. 

If someone matters to you, tell them. They may ask how or why; you don't have to answer. You can answer with, "I don't know." 

Our culture tends to place an inordinate amount of value on romantic social relationships, pretty frosted decorations, when what we need is the nutritious meal. There are so many ways that people matter to us, some seemingly unimportant. They're very important. Eventually you will tell yourself why these people matter to you, and maybe you can share with them.

Tell the people that matter to you:  You are not frosting.

For yourself:  maybe you can't manage a full nutritious meal right now. Start with what you have. You probably have some fat in the refrigerator, flour in the cupboard (and you can't remember how it even got there.) Just add wate…

The Attention Desert

I was up shiny at 6:00 AM today. I'm going to try to make this a habit - wish me strength because luck's got nothing to do with it. I need to change the state of play and garner more useful results for my efforts.

I say all the time that I'm allergic to waiting. It makes me itchy. The submission process for publication is very itchy. I try to mitigate by submitting on a somewhat regular basis so that I get some return in a steady flow. It doesn't always work well; besides that I have to actually send something, there are many factors that affect the response time from prospective publishers. Scratch. I do love my rejection letters, but they are so long in coming. Scratch, scratch.

I have Delayed Gratification Challenges. I am learning to measure time week to week instead of minute to minute, but it isn't easy for me. As it relates to human connection the concept becomes infinitely more complicated.

Just like with publishers, you can't tell your friends and fam…

Getting Through vs. Crash Landing

Somebody once asked me the question, not in the form of a question: "You like the chaos..."

I laughed, and then I responded to Mr. Geminii:  "I get bored."

Mr. Geminii laughed, too. He sees me for what I am, appreciates me, and slowly backs away because he knows. What excellent trouble we could cause as a team! It is nice to be understood.

I am not bragging here: I struggle daily. Getting through day-to-day life is onerous. Would that neatly folding my linens and chatting over coffee were sufficient to make my day shiny. I really like both of those things, but my brain goes walking off, looking for more, touching with itchy fingers things that I've been told should not be touched.

Here's what my brain tells me, though, when I tell it to Leave Those Things Alone:

Why do they exist, then? Why have humans fought to pin and identify every moving part of our universe for centuries now? Why are all forms of life different from each other, if they aren't mean…

Shoes Big Enough vs. Delusions of Grandeur

Longtime long distance friend Linda Fields posted on Facebook recently:
Did you ever wonder whose feet you had on when you bought the shoes you thought fit?  It turns out she was talking literally about shoes. But that wasn't how I read it, and yeah I have, Linda. In allegorical shoes, I really have.

 There was that time in middle school when I wrote an erotic fiction book on lined paper and with a pencil; it was passed around the class until my best friend got hold of it. She said she put it in the dog pen and "let the dogs dukey all over it, because that's all it was good for." I wonder if anybody remembers that. I need to realize I can really write a whole book.

There was the time I moved to four different states and had three babies with a guy who told me we were like "John and Yoko" - we didn't mean to start a family, but we can rock this, yeah? Turns out he meant I would do the family part and he would do the rock part.

There was the time I went …

My AA Story - Find Your Tribe

I attended an AA meeting once in the early 80s, having hitch-hiked to Daytona Beach with the guy who would later become the father of all my children. Laden with sleeping-bag rolls, we were  befriended by people who live on the beach. They immediately showed us the ropes: you can attend the Meeting and get some free donuts and coffee. You don't have to say anything if you don't want to.

There will be lots of coffee. You will need it to stay awake during the 3 hours you aren't allowed to be on the beach. It isn't recommended for newbies to try and congregate under the bridge where the regulars go - folks are territorial. So those who don't have territory stay awake and wander the city for 3 hours.

We ended up making another friend - a guy on a Harley chopper who let us stay at his apartment overnight. I had about 8 minutes of terror standing on a corner at midnight, waiting to see if this guy came back after taking away my friend; he did. The guy let us have shower…

Sharp-Edged Thingies vs. It Was Never About The Donut

I was recently asked to follow instructions with no explanation and I did it.  If  you know me in real life, you are probably amazed.

I heeded because I trust the person who made the request (which wasn't really a request.) There were times in my life when I would have gone straight to do the thing I was explicitly asked to not do.

The Wielder of Instructions has a history with me that's earned my trust - a series of honorable decisions made, not deference to a title nor membership in any particular club.

You need to let people know where you stand, and that can make you a potential target. Sort of a double-edged sword, isn't it?  Nobody wants to be cut.

People sometimes use templates to define their ethics and values:  clubs and churches are the easy ones to identify.  They like the idea of knowing what to expect - it's easy, maybe even a ready-made personality. When we want to parse the template, we're accused of cherry-picking the religion or forming a splinter…

Friendship and Surprise - Is this my Dating Profile? I'm KIDDING.

I vacillate - sometimes daily - on the joys and tribulations of single life. I keep a handle on the joyful  by realising one day life will surprise me. Keep a watchful eye: no surprises, homeostasis preserved, single again today. Whew.

We present a facade to others - this is a fact. Your facade - we should call it your Archetype - may be (and should be) made up of actual, true, parts of you. It isn't going to be all of you because we filter, and rightly so. You choose which parts to put forth, possibly based on your read of the candidate. We like to be impressive, yeah? No.

I am not a name-tag emblazoned with HELLO I'M (they never really have commas, do they?) and so I should not present myself that way. I am smart and socially oblivious. I'm eclectic - quirky is the word Chantelle used for me - and I try to present ArchetypeMe as quirky because it will be so awesome when somebody gets me and isn't terrified.

It's also unfair because I'm judging in advance a pe…

Christmas 2012 - The Christmas of Bacon #parentingwin

My daughter Alia tells people about me: "I literally tell people you're like shots of tequila. OK here and there but too much and you'll end up wandering the streets in an unknown city." Her friends still ask "What's your mom been up to? Does she have any stories?"  I still have to tell y'all about doing laundry while Alia was in the hospital with a bum knee, but in the meantime here's a family classic:  The Christmas of Bacon.

I was so proud of myself. And it was too easy. My daughter asked me to send her bacon for Christmas.

"I will," I said, because I am a Good Mum, "and you WILL be sorry." Because she's met me.

I found a single eBay seller who had bacon Christmas ornaments, candy canes, chap-stick, bandages, dental floss, pose-able figurines, and car air fresheners. And wrapping paper, and was willing to wrap the package for me before sending because I can't mail - this is a known thing. Also, if memory serves…

*POETRY WARNING* Spenserian Friend-zone

That shiny paper is its own reward: 
It scampers out of reach so flittingly
And dances nearer of its own accord,
Much more intriguing when compared to me.

What value is not obvious to see
The worth at hand compared with effort spent,
But who am I to judge the cost to thee? 
A thing already won, irrelevant,

I'll take the status quo, but play is cruel intent.

Trigger-Happy vs. Dr. Who is my Favorite Therapist

I'm about to add "trigger" to the list of catchphrases that should be retired due to misleading connotations. I've seen the term used by people (read: internet trolls) whose only goal is to cause reactions  for the purpose of some creepy short-term gratification. Triggers can be personal and polarizing:  mention the poet Robert Frost and I'm triggered immediately, because how you feel about him is going to impact how I feel about you.

The concept of  trigger in therapy has been extremely useful for people who have difficulty navigating every-day life. Using the word this way infers an element of surprise:  something sets off a knee-jerk reaction  founded in an unrelated traumatic event. Therapy can help you create a tool that works to keep you in control of yourself when you're triggered.

The phenomenon I'm talking about here does not present as surprise. It's the thing you know could hurt you, and you are aware the entire time you approach it.  You j…

"Based on Actual Events" - Memory vs. Reality in Writing

Memory is perhaps our most enduring relationship with the springs of the imagination. It may be the imagination, in a very real way. It's an unfortunate miscue that the memoir and the personal essay are called "nonfiction." This puts them under the same umbrella as the daily newspaper, and people get all heated about whether you "allow" yourself to "make things up" or if you "tell the truth." These questions make it almost impossible to consider the mind at work on its experience, both inner and outer. If I say a tall woman entered the room in a red dress, am I being more "factual" than if I write a statuesque beauty swanned into the room in a scarlet gown? Memory and perception come together, often, to make imagination. They do not make invention.- Patricia Hampl, in an interview with Heidi McKinley at Creative Nonfiction, Daydream Believer The thing that's missing from my process of becoming a better writer is reading. I'v…

Spooky Action at a Distance - Soul-Mates and Kindred Spirits

Quantum entanglement is a thing - a physical phenomenon - occurring when a pair of particles (or a group of them) have a correlation such that the state of one cannot be described independently of the other, even when separated by a large distance. Their relationship must be addressed in terms of the collection as a whole. If you take a measure of one, you will find same in the other (and possibly annihilate both, but that's a different tangent.) What affects one affects the whole system.  This is the baby-food version - I'm still learning.

Einstein called it "Spooky Action at a Distance." He had doubts, and those doubts spawned debate which continues today.

We talk a lot of smack about Soul Mates; some of us think we've found one, and some of us don't believe in such things. I think we can have many - it's just a matter of whether we locate them in this lifetime. When I tried to find support for my newly-formed Physics of Soul-Mates theory, I came up pre…