Saturday, January 21, 2012

Notes from a Week of Snow, Wind and Fire

The New Furniture Cascade Effect, Mr. Typist's Long-Buried Artistic Flair, and "The Final Say"

The problem with our new furniture is that its presence makes all of our old furniture look absurdly shabby, and not shabby in a trendy, distressed “cottage by the sea” kind of way, but shabby in a way that makes it appear that the apartment is occupied by someone suffering from a split personality disorder; one, a penniless art student with indifferent taste in pressboard tables, and one, a gainfully employed adult who considers things like “color palettes.” 

I used to want to be an interior designer, but I’d get mentally exhausted thinking about the sheer number of decisions that would need to be made about granite countertops and window dressings, and I gave up on that idea. It turns out that even making decisions about lamps tries my patience after about fifteen minutes. With the new furniture, our Goodwill-purchased, rusted wrought-iron floor lamp that we’ve had since we moved into together some twelve years ago looked so bad neither of us could take it anymore. We made a trek out to buy replacement lamps last weekend, and something I’ve always suspected was confirmed: Mr. Typist has long-repressed artistic talents. His Asperberger’s-ish personality and eagle eye for detail somehow allowed him the stamina to choose two beautiful, aesthetically compatible lamps long after had I sunk, stupefied and visually overstimulated, into one of Fancy Lamp Store’s display chairs and refused to move or open my eyes.

It turns out we’re a good match when it comes to Picking Things Out Together. I go completely by impulse and instinct; pointing to whatever captures my imagination. Then, when I get overwhelmed by choices, (usually after about ten minutes) he’s able to take on the detail work, searching for flaws, comparing styles, and sizing up color matching, space, and pricing all with computer-like speed and accuracy, while I nap in the background.  

Of course, there is still the pervasive idea floating around that as the woman, I am supposed to have “final say” on such things. Even after Mr. Typist has coolly calculated every factor and come up with the optimal choice without batting eye or getting panicky and stressed out like I do, he always says, “It’s really your decision. You have the final say, you know.” When I’ve told males about our new furniture-buying exploits, they all chortle and say, “Well we all know who really makes the decisions on that.” I’m just excited to learn that having a vagina gives me some mysterious, genetic furniture-selecting advantage that I never even knew I had! Next, my vagina and I are going to pick out a dining room set. I can’t wait!

Delirious? Or, the Poet within Me Rears its Addled Head

As a part of a volunteer-based prevention program I’ll be helping to launch at work, I recently went to a conference on Delirium, which was thoroughly excellent. However, towards the end, when they were going through some of the protocols for assessment, one of the questions to ask a patient was, “Can a stone float on water?” I found myself completely confused by this inquiry. My first instinct was to answer, “Yes, of course.” The audience, made up almost entirely of nurses, (with the exception of me), understood right away that a stone doesn’t float on water, but their chorus of “no’s” puzzled me for a moment. They're evidence thinkers. I had to consider the question for a full minute before I realized that a stone cannot float on water; that the question is scientific, not metaphorical. Then I had a terrible thought: What if I have been I myself have been in a state of delirium all of this time--my entire life? Confused, engaged in disorganized thinking, agitated, suspicious, unaware of where I actually am, and of what is happening to me? 

It’s a unnerving thought that hasn't entirely left me yet. 

New Review!

There is a new review of my book up at Prick of the Spindle! It makes me happy that it’s getting some positive press, and that the reviewer appreciates Chella Courington’s work as much as I do.

Will Introverts Get Their Due at Last?  

I was browsing my Kindle the other night for new books to buy, and I was dizzy with excitement to find the following title, to be released on January 24th: “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking”

From the blurb:  “Passionately argued, impressively researched, and filled with indelible stories of real people, Quiet shows how dramatically we undervalue introverts, and how much we lose in doing so.“

I am very excited to read this book! I’m really happy to see a book on the market that does not pathologize introversion or frame it as something to be “fixed.” It’s refreshing to find a (quiet, well-modulated) voice for introversion among the culture sea of chattering extroverts.

Navigating my introversion in a position that requires managing a volunteer staff of 175+ and having constant interaction with the public has been an enormous challenge, and has led to terrible misunderstandings more than once. My feelings are often deeply hurt by people who misread my actions, and I am certain that I have caused hurt feelings in others due to my introversion. I hope that as more books like this hit the popular market, it will help the lives of introverts get a little easier and less painful. 

A Brief PSA Regarding the Term "Young Lady" as Applied to a 42-Year Old, Credentialed Professional:  

If you are considering calling a professional, 40-something female co-worker who you barely know a “young lady” and giving her patronizing advice about how she should be managing her time, maybe you should first consider the fact that this will make you come across like a jerk and an asshat. That is all. Cue tinkly piano music now.  

Writing Update:

I am in a weird place with the writing...still feeling a strong impulse to branch out, but forcing myself to come back to poetry, even though it's not working very well for me right now. Last weekend, I took a stab at starting a novel, but I feel funny about it, like it makes me undisciplined and unfocused; like I shouldn't be egomaniacial enough to assume I can "cross over" into anything new. I am reading dire warnings about not trying to become a "cross-over" writer, which are depressing me, but I continue to read them. 

Right now, I'm just letting the writing be what it is--a big sad sloppy mess.

--Kristen McHenry


Artisan Lifestyle said...

"Can a stone float on water?"... The answer is yes. I learned the answer in fifth grade science.

"Volcanic rocks often have a vesicular texture caused by voids left by volatiles escaping from the molten lava. Pumice is an example of explosive volcanic eruption. It is so vesicular that it floats in water."

Their test is fundementally flawed and should be thrown out.... Sheesh! Am I the only fact checker in the room?

Jo-Ann said...

Great response Ms Artisan Lifestyle but coming back to the original question: what does a floating stone have to do with delirium? Perchance you, Ms Good Typist, was the only sane person there. Next they will be giving out IQ tests as if they mean something.
Anyhow, you may, as you say have a big, sloppy mess of a writing thing going on but you sure make a pretty blogsite!

Kristen McHenry said...

Great comments, Artisan and Jo-Ann! The question is supposed to be one in series to help assess a patient's level of awareness and cognition....there is also a thing where you have them draw a clock face. That one also confused me. That's ok, though. I will just comfort myself with the thought that it's everyone else who is crazy.:)