Yohannon (yohannon) wrote,

Semi-monthly Updates Kinda Sorta Work...

...especially now, the infamously meager holiday period. I'm a bit surprised to find myself more or less halfway through the Turkey Day through New Year's slog with only minor emotional melt-downs. Of course, this year was a tad weird, what with Thanksgiving falling on the very last weekend of the month through an accident of calendars.

I continue to process all of the crap that I tend to do this time of year; Contemplating why things went wrong in my life, but trying to appreciate more the things that were (and still are) really cool about it. Of course, once of those things is the record cold temps the SF bay area has been subjected to of late -- it dipped into the 20's here last night, which is about 25 degrees lower than usual.

Yeah, I know there are people from Minnesota way (hi, penguin_goddess!) who will mock us for this "spring like" weather. I used to live in a much colder, less pleasant place winter wise myself, so I get it. And if I concentrate I remember how much colder that is, and even the 42 degrees it is right now at 11AM seems almost toasty.

Things are just really weird lately. After re-connecting with papershroud last month, I am fretting over her surgery this Friday; yes, the 13th... which is a bit of a relief, as this is generally a really good day for me. My theory is that people EXPECT it to be a bad day, so when someone like myself comes along without a trace of tridecaphobia the good luck is lying about like so many fresh apples just shaken from the tree, ignored by the fools scurrying and fretting about death from above, ignoring the sustenance that piles at their feet.

Not everyone who looks up is blessed, and not all those who look down are depressed. Yes, I am stressed, but it's less a mess than my past I must confess...

Okay, stop rhyming! It's getting silly, even if an accurate portrayal of my inner workings.

Lately I am exposed to a lot of triggers in odd places. Last Friday's Bones. The Big Bang Theory. Unnervingly accurate depictions of what it's like to be really, really smart, and yet really unsure of yourself and insecure in your own reality... or realities. The unreasonable expectations of what geniuses are, even as we mock extreme intelligence in any way we can, up to and including demonizing it. Even Hannibal displays intelligence as both, as Monk clearly defined, a blessing AND a curse.

Smart people are the best suspects, because inquiring minds are suspicious. Perception and the aforementioned Monk paint us as unstable, almost a barely tolerable evil in ourselves. A danger to ourselves and others... curiosity kills the cat, and the rats fear that they're next. In Hannibal Dr. Lechter can frame Graham because of the agents brilliance. A common theme in both the Elementary and Sherlock reboots is that Holmes is one boring day away from committing the perfect crime -- and then crowing about it. Which is pretty much the stock description of every serial killer ever depicted in entertainment (what's the point of a perfect crime if no one ever knows it happened?).

And yet, even as I bemoan all of those depictions, I can still be a bit hopeful that they are reflective gradual shifts in perception. That the "other", whether through intelligence or random genetic or societal chance, are not so scary. The roots of these ideas start as far back as The Addams Family in the 1960's, and have slowly percolated forward to movies like Austin Powers (where even Dr. Evil becomes sympathetic) through to today's Despicable Me --The theme at the heart of those movies is that intelligence and difference is isolation, but only if we deny that our uniqueness is illusory, and that there is always a family for us if we have the courage to choose.

And the strength to accept that regardless of how our intelligence manifests, there will be those who take on more than they can handle, and that can not be a judgement on ourselves. Oh, don't think that this excuses truly bad behavior, as opposed to the ignorance of genius -- "Dr. Sheldon Cooper" is as fine example of this lack of social awareness. However, there are areas where we will take on the blame handed to us by people who would rather assign evil intent than accept that yeah, it IS possible for someone with an IQ over 160 to be gullible. After all, we're "smart enough to know better", regardless of the facts.

And all of that is before the abuse is factored in. Think about the fascination of the young as inherently "evil" -- Damien, The Bad Seed, It's a GOOD Life (from The Twilight Zone), The Exorcist... the idea that someone can be born bad, with no external influences.

Recently I read of a scientist who studied the physiology of mental illness who had his own brain scanned... and discovered that he was a psychopath. Not the pejorative, the medical condition. The literal definition of the word is a bit shaky here:

  • A person suffering from a chronic mental disorder with abnormal or violent social behavior.

The thesaurus neatly illustrates this perception by using the word in a sentence: "By definition, is a psychopath always a danger to himself and others?" Yet the scientist wasn't a danger to anyone. At worst he could be occasionally be described as a bit insensitive. The scan merely provided a reason why certain social skills were harder than others, and gave him the impetus to pay closer attention to areas he now knew were weak spots.

This (kinda sorta) mirrors my experience in my own diagnosis. 20 years ago I had already lost Bradd, and in 11 days comes the anniversary of my grandmother's death. About 7 weeks later, Myra died suddenly while under the less than tender care of Kaiser.

By May of 1994 I was a complete mess, as all of those coping mechanisms collapsed in on themselves. I had discovered the limitations of my own mind, and of coping blindly.

In both cases there is a repudiation of evil as inherent trait. Neither of us had a clue about our own status, despite being well educated and intelligent. We had both already succeeded at our lives without leaving a path of destruction in our wakes. Somehow, without possessing all of the facts, we made the right choices when others did not. When we discovered the "truth", we didn't take that as an excuse to abandon our efforts to be better people, although we had to accept these newly discovered chasms at the edge of our ability as dangerous pits that we have an obligation to warn others off of. "No, don't poke THAT button!"

If this seems a bit like naval gazing, well, that's a bit of a fair cop. One of the only ways I can make it through the holidays is to find some perspective, whether it's regarding the disastrous 2011 holidays, or the arguably much worse 1975 when the step binged, threw me into a ceiling, and destroyed a large portion of everything we owned. Understanding how much I could have changed (certainly far more in 2011 then 1975) and how I could handle myself better requires that I see where my role begins and ends.

In just 6 months I hit the second full decade since my moderate to severe ADHD diagnosis, and I'm still working it all out. As the scales fall from my eyes and I see where I went wrong when I was 30, 25, 20, 15... hell, when I was *5*... it gives the strength to move forward. I'm still a mess, but at least I can try to not make everyone else's holiday horrible as well.
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