Archive for ‘memories’

December 7, 2012

my first fountain pen

27.02.2008

defining moments 11 missed out

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December 5, 2012

anatomy of an argument – sweating the small stuff

27.03.2011 – Journal entry [btw, we’re fine]

Well yesterday started out ok then M. and I had a massive row at the supermarket, after we’d been running in the park, about something ridiculously trivial and I am still in a rage about it. It’s making me feel crazy. I have just tried to clear the air, but M. maintains he has nothing to say, he’s happy, he got up early this morning, he’s feeling a bit tired, but otherwise he’s fine. I am seething. I’m not sure why I am making such a big deal of this. He has nothing to say and I can’t bring myself to look at or speak to him.

I am convinced that M. was trying to pick a fight with me. He won’t admit it. He reckons I escalated it beyond the two-minute moan he was having about my having bought an unnecessary plastic bag at the supermarket, and beginning to expand on the theme about how wasteful I am and all the food I’ve ever bought which I haven’t eaten. Perhaps I did. But I could feel a cloud descending on me as he repeated variations on the theme over and over again.

It’s not as if he was paying. It’s not as if the plastic bag wouldn’t get used as a dustbin bag anyway. It’s not as if I’m never going to miscalculate the number of bags we need again, and will be penalized to the tune of 15c. And since I’m the one who does most of the shopping, and I prefer to have too many plastic bags than over-fill too few, plus I pay for the fucking stuff, I don’t see why I should have to listen to him droning on about it. So it feels like he was picking a fight.

So why did I take the bait? I was starting to feel resentful, thinking how happy I’d felt running around the park, how relaxed, how normally right now I’d be in a dreamy state of well-being and instead I’m being nagged, having my balls broken about something absolutely trivial. I kept thinking “don’t sweat the small stuff”, actually, I kept thinking “why does he have to sweat the small stuff”. Maybe if I’d been thinking the first thing, I’d have been better able to resist the temptation to explode, because that’s what I did in the end. I told him to shut up, SHUT UP, SHUT UP!!!! I think I might have missed the stage of politely asking him to change the subject. No, I didn’t. I could probably have been more polite or humourous about it, but I did ask him to change the subject.

Did I tell him he was right? He said something strange yesterday morning, that he was going to have to leave me because I always told him he was right. I often appease him, it’s the easiest way. He also said that it was because he was nearly always right, and I’d do better to just listen to him and do whatever he says. At the time this was a light-hearted conversation, but I wonder if there’s anything behind it.

Anyway, after I told him to SHUT UP, he didn’t, which ramped up my frustration, which was rapidly turning into rage, even further, and I doubled back on myself and took the parallel route home so I wouldn’t have to keep listening to him. Unfortunately I was the only one who had the keys, so he was waiting for me. We got home in silence, with me banging every door I could. He seemed calm and cheerful. It felt a bit sadistic.

This does remind me of rowing with mum. I think she believed this was what communication was about, this was how people were supposed to interact with each other, this was “being Italian”, being honest, being oneself, expressing one’s feelings. I would be the one having the amygdala hijack, and I’d feel completely drained and crazy afterwards.

It’s funny, M.’s always more likely to do this when people are coming over, especially if it’s D. He has been known to behave like a whiny pain in the arse with T. around as well, but less so.

What happened when we got back? It was quite late, so I started tidying up the house, clearing the table in the kitchen. M. started to go on about the plastic bags again, because, evidently, I hadn’t understood what he was trying to say. I started screaming at him to shut up, what was there not to understand that he’s pissed off because I bought a plastic bag we didn’t need, and how dare he break my balls about something so fucking trivial, about a 15c bag. How would he like it if I broke his balls in this way? I don’t break his balls so why the fuck does he think it’s alright to break mine. He denied he was breaking my balls, at which point I threw the folded-up table-cloth at him.

I went into the living room to try and cool off. I realized that wasn’t going to happen so I decided to have a shower. I’d just finished getting dressed when D. & A. arrived. There followed a fairly excruciating day of my pretending that everything was alright. M. was showing affection towards me, leaning against me at the table, but as soon as D. & A. went outside on the balcony for a smoke, he said, half jokingly, “I hate you, and I’m going to hate you until you apologise.” I couldn’t trust myself to speak. Before D & A came back, I hissed at him in the toilet that I was happy to apologise if he was. He announced that he had nothing to apologise for.

Is it too much to ask that he shows some basic consideration of my feelings, like if I’m clearly about to erupt with fury to stop doing whatever it is he’s doing which is presumably provoking it, reasonable or not? Apparently it’s too much to ask. I really feel like I’m dealing with Sheldon here, but am I being a bit Sheldon-like?

November 30, 2012

the best part of the week

defining moments 8

November 26, 2012

personality tests I have failed

14.04.2009

There’s a website, Authentic Happiness,  that really annoys me and which inspired this cartoon:

Since publishing this cartoon on my blog [now defunct], I have been asked things like ‘Did you actually take those personality tests?’ and ‘Why don’t you like that website? You should try harder to join.’ (This, from my partner.) Also, ‘That cartoon shows a lot of self-awareness.’

So the answer to the first question is, no, I didn’t do the questionnaires. Also, just to be clear, since I have obviously failed in the purpose of this cartoon, which was to make fun of the Authentic Happiness people in their relentless pursuit of positive thinking, you don’t actually have to pass these tests to join some kind of happiness club, they are for self-awareness/development purposes only.

I dislike personality, psychological and aptitude tests, as I have a long history of failing them. For my statistics class at University, we did a lot of these tests to generate data to analyse. I was always an outlier – at the ‘educationally sub-normal’ or ‘uh-oh, mental!’ end of the normal distribution.

There’s a horrible personality test called the Big 5, which evaluates you along 5 dimensions: Openness (intellect), Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness and Neuroticism. What I learned about myself from this test was that I was naïve, feckless, an introvert (which apparently means ‘more likely to turn out to be a serial killer’), high-maintenance and emotionally unstable, i.e. destined to end up an unemployable spinster.

For the next couple of decades, I adopted a strategy of minimizing self-awareness, of refusing to recognise what the tests had revealed about me. This worked quite well, and I managed to earn a living and have relationships by convincing potential employers, boyfriends and sometimes myself that I was outgoing, easygoing and completely committed to whatever it was they were proposing. However, this was exhausting, and I just couldn’t keep it up. My true nature always asserted itself eventually.

Then I did the Myers-Briggs Type Inventory, which unlike the Big 5 test, isn’t arranged in terms of positive and negative ends of a spectrum, but goes from good to … differently good. According to this test I’m an intuitive introvert, who prioritises human factors over objective logic, with a high tolerance for uncertainty. In other words, an independently-minded woman who is better suited to self-employment. That I can live with.

25.11.2012

Today I read a review of this book, and was inspired to dig up my old cartoon:

November 25, 2012

how to deal with figures before you can count

11.05.2009

November 25, 2012

how to play

110402 – watching A. play basketball in Casalecchio

Yesterday we were out of milk, and I asked A., nearly 6, to come and buy some with me. He had just opened one of those little juice boxes, so I thought I’d wait until he’d finished drinking. I distracted myself for a couple of minutes, and when I looked back to see if he’d finished, he a) hadn’t, and b) was playing with the juice box rather than drinking. I took a deep breath and suppressed my natural urge to bark at him to hurry up, and, instead, observed him.

A. announced he didn’t like the drink – “organic blueberry” – but that he liked sucking the droplets from the straw when he took it out of the box. I resisted grinding my teeth, contented myself with a martyred sigh and kept watching. He started pulling the straw out and sucking the juice from it; then he wanted to see what would happen if he put the straw back in up-side down with the short part in the box (it still worked) ; then he noticed that he’d put some kinks in the bendy part of the straw and wanted to see if he could get them out by pressing with his teeth (more or less). After about five minutes of this, he finally handed me the almost undrunk drink, saying he didn’t want it any more. I couldn’t resist muttering something about “wasteful!” but otherwise kept my hair on. I was impressed by how absorbed he’d been in his ‘messing around.’

Later. A.’s skateboarding process:

  1. Get auntie to carry skateboard downstairs.
  2. Pause to consider skateboarding across the flower-bed. Decide against.
  3. Complain that the skateboard keeps stopping and won’t go in the direction I want it to; when auntie points out all the cracks and pot-holes in the pavement, get auntie to carry skateboard until the next bit of smooth pavement.
  4. Wonder what kneeling on skateboard and pushing yourself along with your hands is like. Ignore auntie telling you to stand on it, or you’ll never learn.
  5. Scrape thumb painfully on tarmac. Ignore auntie telling you not to put thumb in mouth. Decide to try sticks. First stick breaks immediately.
  6. At the park the tarmac path slopes down. Find a bigger stick. Discover that the stick won’t slow down the skateboard without endangering fingers. Rolling off the path and onto the grass will. Also the tips of my shoes dragging on the ground will. Get auntie to carry skateboard back up hill. Again and again. Have not given up on sticks.
  7. Notice path through the grass, decide to try and skateboard across it. There are a lot of stones in the earth along the path. I must dig them out or I can’t get across. Where’s my stick? Oops, it broke. Here’s another bigger one. Scrape, scrape, poke, poke, there goes the first stone. This one’s big. Scrape, scrape, scrape…
  8. Here are some more good sticks. I’m a caveman. Look, I’m rubbing two sticks together to make a fire.

Lessons learned:

Shoes are better than sticks for steering and stopping.

You can ride down the hill with a friend if you’re both kneeling.

[NB. Interesting post here about playing and Aspergers]

November 23, 2012

the house mum grew up in

05.05.2008

November 15, 2012

points for effort

20.01.2008

November 13, 2012

true math trauma

20.01.2008 – How I learned about the law of diminishing returns

November 12, 2012

unreliable memories much more interesting than facts

15.03.2011 – from my journal

When I was a teenager I distinctly remember mum telling me that at school she had a classmate whose weight would yo-yo up and down. Every so often, when this girl got too chubby, her parents would whisk her away to a clinic, where she would be ‘put to sleep’ for a week, sedated or anaesthetized and fed through a drip. She would come back to school with concave cheeks and a flat stomach and be the envy of her classmates. This was the same clinic my mother’s father would check into when his stomach ulcers got so bad he would be vomiting blood. The treatment was the same: he would be ‘put to sleep’ for a week, then come back good as new.

I never questioned my memory of these gothic-sounding practices, even after I did my degree in psychology. This was Italy, and different rules apply. Also, although it sounded physiologically dodgy, I found the idea of a clinic where you were put to sleep for a while to solve all your problems incredibly appealing, much more restful than dieting or therapy.

When I asked mum about this recently she denied ever telling me anything so mad-sounding, and said that her schoolmate probably had anorexia or bulimia, not conditions which were recognized at the time, and she was removed from school when she got too thin, not for being too fat. But the part about her father being put to sleep in this clinic was true, except that it was when he got depressed, not for his ulcers.

For the record, she tells me a lot of mad-sounding things, so my memory is probably correct even though her revisionist explanation is likely to be a more accurate description of the facts. And the mad-sounding version is so much more interesting than the facts.

October 18, 2012

they’re nothing to do with me

29.07.2007

One of my sister T.’s memories about going holiday with the family was when they missed the overnight train from Milan to Paris. I wasn’t there, although it feels like my memory. My mother and four children, including 3 small ones, were waiting on a train platform late at night to catch another night train to Paris. They wouldn’t have had couchettes to look forward to, or even booked places, they wouldn’t have had any food or water, or anything that would offer any comfort, since mum would have been in charge of packing. There would have been luggage all over the place, and no obvious way of transporting so much with so many small children. At least one of the small children would have been crying. They would all have looked scruffy. Not dirty exactly, but unkempt. T remembers a man looking askance at them all and remarking to his companion “I hope I’m not expected to travel with that bunch of gypsies.” T remembers stepping away from the family, not wishing to be associated. I wonder how old she would have been – 16?

October 18, 2012

a tendency to overgeneralise

19.10.2007

I’ve always hated board games, most of them anyway, like monopoly. I don’t mind the pure chance ones, like Ludo, which allow me to be totally fatalistic, but games like monopoly which require decisions and strategy as well as luck just made me feel like a stupid loser. I don’t know how much I believe in self-determination, if that’s the right word: I’ll never forget when I was 12 or 13 deciding that I was going to get a handle on Maths, that if I just studied enough I’d be able to do ok and pass my tests. I based my conclusion on a sample of one test, which I studied for and did more abysmally than usual on, that there is no cause and effect, things are totally random and I might just as well give myself up to my fate, and I was fated to be crap at Maths. Look how I still write it with a capital letter.

October 17, 2012

a girl called Blessing

London, August 2011. I meet Blessing (real name), who’s about 8, in the playground that T.’s flat overlooks. She’s pretty, plump, has lots of beaded braids, wears pink with butterfly motifs. She’s chasing around the car-park after a large fluffywhite seed, like the ones from a dandelion clock, and when she catches it, she gives it to T., saying, “This is for you, it’s a wish, don’t lose it, keep it safe!” T. puts it in her pocket. Blessing catches one for me too, and it’s at the pocket of my moleskine notebook, should I ever need it.