Bits and pieces

A mixed bag of things.

  • I was really sick last Thursday and Friday.  My boss told me to go home on Thursday.   I don’t get sick that often, so it was hard.  I cancelled our Saturday activities, but then woke up feeling good on Saturday.
  • The fun run on Sunday? Was really good.  The course was completely changed this year, and as a result was a lot more fun and easier for me to complete. So it was pretty good, despite the lack of preparation and the illness.
  • The cake did not get eaten. “Couldn’t be bothered”. So it went in the rubbish.  :-( 
  • Work is going through some changes, the larger company needs to tighten its belt. While this is good in some ways, it is stressful, and some of the more entitled managers/areas are having issues.
  • I am going to try to make a Black Forest trifle for a thing on Saturday. So basically a trifle made with Black Forest cake components. Going to be interesting.
  • Parliament reconvenes tomorrow. This means that my work will get more interesting. 
Not that much interesting happening, this is probably a good thing.

Self soothing

I am realising just how much the most recent miscarriage impacted me, when I notice some of my self soothing behaviours.  Some are conscious- I try to do certain activities, to keep busy. Some are less conscious but still noticed – a lot more takeaway and junk food. And some are very unconscious and a bit of a surprise.

I find crafting soothing- the nature of knitting or embroidery is very meditative. Unfortunately my current projects were not great for that and were pushed aside, and not replaced. Reading can help, but I noticed that I was gravitating to certain authors- comfort in particular books, and author styles. It does explain why I keep certain authors on my shelves and in the kindle- I may not read them all the time, but sometimes they are the comfort I need.

The parts that surprised me- the return of old habits.  I sucked my thumb through childhood, and was astonished to find myself doing so one day when I was tired- a retreat of some form.  It was the once- probably because I realised. And a more recent habit- I have noticed that the hair at the back of my head has some shorter, frizzy bits.  This means I am pulling my hair out, not a good thing.  This was a habit that started in high school, flourished in college and into my early adult years.  I tried different solutions and therapy, which worked in varying levels, but the solution was my move to Japan.  I do not want this habit back, I do not.  But it is unconscious, and it is hard to kick.  Harder by the fact that the solution last time was pretty drastic.

I do have a range of ways to help myself cope, I must have been an anxious child, but some are better than others.

Social media and me

I am not sure I use social media very well.  I had a Friendster account (remember Friendster?) way back when, but it took a little while for me to get Facebook. I finally caved after a soccer end of season trip in 2007 (I think). I joined Twitter early on, but rarely used it, and I was very late to the party on Instagram. 

I value Facebook and Instagram for the connections to people overseas- to connect with friends and family around the world.  I do have links to people in my city, to my family but I would prefer to connect in person (although not always possible).

I was listening a podcast of “this American life” that had a bit about social media- teenagers talking about how they use social media. How they have to like everyone’s posts and quickly, or they aren’t good friends, and the comments! I am very glad I am not a teenager now.  But it made me think- I don’t click on like very often – sometimes but not often and I don’t comment much- but I prefer to comment rather than like.  But does make me a bad social media friend? I also don’t click on like because I am often not on Facebook.

I am not often on Facebook because I started to drift off as a result of the infertility issue.  There were waves of babies being announced, and born and growing up.  And I know why they popped often, because everybody likes a baby story, but when you are living the opposite, it is really hard to see it constantly. And really, what can one say? A single post about how things are not working out would attract sympathy, an ongoing series, not so much. And no one ever talks about loss. So I stopped checking, and like many things, once you stop it is hard to reconnect.

I like Instagram because in some ways it is a nice connect between a simple moment of life, with a picture – a combination of the things that I like about Twitter and Facebook without the obnoxious news stories. So find myself checking that more often.

But I have also started to go back to FB, but only on specific days. Someone from my college started a private group where alums (and only alums, very strict) post on a Friday as part of a “Friday tea” about our lives. It’s a simple formula. A snapshot of our tea (beverage), the year we graduated, the house(s) we lived in, key programs and then our best of week (BOW) and worst of the week (WOW). It sounds so trite, and there are those who deviate, but it works. It’s amazing, people share incredible, honest stories. Really truly honest, in a way that you don’t see in more general FB posts, because they know that the stories don’t go any further. Stories about the good and about the bad, and support. Comments are supportive and sharing, the most divisive I have seen I on one of the guiding posts (about how to post) there was a bit of anti- authoritarianism and there was some warm discussion, but was still respectful. And all those infertility posts I never saw? They are here.  The miscarriages, the rainbow babies and the IVF trials. And the support and solidarity is there. I wish that I had seen this back in the early days of my infertility, it would have helped. (The blogging community helped, but there was a two year period where every blog I read had their miracle pregnancy, or so it felt). To know so many others are having the same experience.

More than reading the stories, I love what it does to my feed. On Fridays and Saturdays my feed is almost entirely these posts. It wipes political posts, it wipes pictures of food, or other people’s fabulous lives or passive aggressive divorce posts out of my feed. I have been able to connect to people I lost touch with.  In some ways, this is what social media is supposed to do, but we have such broad circles that it is hard to be so honest. I do value the chance to have both.

And yes, I know it’s a little weird to talk about something where part of the honesty is based on the fact that the posts are private, but I am not talking about specific posts or circumstances, just the general vibe.  And trying not to name my college, but if you know it, and went and haven’t been invited into the group, let me know.

Just things

Wow, it’s been a couple of weeks since I posted last. Some points

– there is a documentary about the Boxing Day tsunami on tv.  I really wasn’t aware of much with that event- it occurred when I lived in Japan.  I had gone on a trip to Shikoku (one of the four main Japanese islands) during our new year/Christmas break.  I was traveling by myself, and the places I stayed in did not have tv with English channels, so I wasn’t watching much. I remember the hotel I was in when my mother called to ask if I was affected – no, and I was only just then working out something had happened. But this hotel was the third one I stayed in on that trip- and I had started on Boxing Day (worked Christmas Day and took the overnight bus down that night) so I had been there for at least 4 days.  Wow, just how long it took the news to travel out, and for people to realise, compared to 2011! It’s heartbreaking a totally different way from the 2011 disaster- in Japan part of the awfulness was the fact that the precautions didn’t prevent it, but in Thailand people had no idea of how to cope, and so many were on holiday. 

– it’s a birthday week here. It was J’s birthday on Sunday, but due to a combination of stubbornness and tiredness we haven’t seen him since Saturday- he refused to come down to breakfast on Sunday morning, and by the time he got up we had gone to my little brother’s birthday party. We made a mountain cake with ski slope for that, while J’s chocolate cake hasn’t  yet had the chance to be eaten.

– I have signed up for a 10km “fun run” next Sunday and this is the least prepared I have ever been.  It’s not going to be fun- work paid for my entry, so I can’t easily back out. Pretty sure I can do it, but it will be tough

How can it be the last full week of August?



When it isn’t helpful

I am relatively open about my infertility and miscarriage issues at work. In some ways I don’t have the choice, information has been passed on without my knowledge, so people are aware. With the most recent issue I suddenly took three days off work.

About two days after I got back a coworker asked me how it went. I was a bit off guard and I answered that I had had a d&c on Wednesday. She was rather shocked, she had thought it was an IVF related procedure. She has two small kids, and between her and the two guys with younger kids there is a lot of early childhood discussion in our office.  Very little I can do about this, but it is why my iPod is loaded with podcasts and I listen to a lot of them.

There is one other childless person in the office, that I now know has known she was unable to have kids since she was 15. 

Today it was just the three of us in the office at the end of the day and 1st co-worker thought that it was a good idea to tell a story about her GP who lost a baby, had seemed single and now is about 30 weeks and has a ring on her finger even though she is in her late 30s. I know she means well, and she thinks of it as an inspiring story, but it isn’t.  I hate stories where the subtext is that a woman can’t be happy unless she has a man (partner) and baby or two. I can see why people might see them as inspiring or showing hope, but what they say to me is that the person doesn’t appreciate that a life without children (or a partner) can be valuable.

I didn’t say anything on those lines, I was just very non-committal. Other co-worker (single as far as I know, childless and well into her 40s) was silent.

It has made me very wary of what I say when I try to offer support of comfort- sometimes the words of support are more about comforting the speaker than the person needing help.

Something to think about

Possibly a case of Internet hypochondria. 

If you were asked to visualise a member of your family right now, how clearly do you see them?


I struggle to see anything.  I can think about them, descriptors etc, but to actually visualise (for example) my husband is not that easy. I get a vague, static picture, but it isn’t very detailed and it doesn’t have a lot of movement.  Asked to visualise a sunset, I can think (and see) a sun, a black horizon line and maybe some red. It isn’t a photo quality image.

I genuinely didn’t realise people actually saw (or perceived) in their mind’s eye photo quality images. 

Until today when I found out about aphantasia

I wouldn’t say that I am completely without the ability to visualise but it isn’t my default. I was a little cautious- maybe internet induced hypochondria, but I also did a little quiz and came out worse than I expected.

I can visualise, but not well. When people did visualisation exercises I never fully visualise it- the whole imagine a white screen and watch yourself performing difficult tasks just seemed odd.

I can remember a camp counsellor humming when I was a CIT and asking what the music was- she couldn’t give me a title immediately, because she could always hear music in her head. At the time that seemed strange to me, but I guess we all perceive the world a little differently. I can always hear the stories my brain is telling me, but they rarely have images.

It also explains why I prefer certain authors. I can read descriptions of people and clothes, but they don’t resonate with me.  I don’t picture characters, I absorb the description, but the physical representation isn’t there. So any casting of those characters can represent them.  I prefer authors who give me the inner workings of the character’s minds, not the detail of their clothes. 

My memories are linked with other senses and are mostly not pictorial.  I am thinking of a childhood friend- the image in my head is from photographs- either one from around age 10 or her current FB photo- we haven’t met in person in 25 plus years. I remember riding bikes, and the places we went. I remember talking about books. I don’t remember images. I feel the emotions from particular events, and maybe what the weather was like etc, but not the image.

When someone describes something, I have trouble visualising it. I work well with drawn or physical representations though. 

This also has an interesting and not previously appreciated effect on my grief. I cannot bring up an image of my grandmothers. For one, I get an involuntary flash of my maternal grandmother from a picture taken when I was five (she would live for another 25 years, and I saw her regularly during those years). I cannot, and generally have never, visualised any future children. It had not occurred to me until now that someone could mentally generate a good picture of them.   I can think about future interactions, such as being able to read to them etc, but not about how they will look. If I visualise it at all, I do not see faces. It had not occurred to me to be upset by this, and I may have blamed this on my uncertainty about getting pregnant, but it isn’t. So I don’t have those images to help me, but I also don’t have those images of something that has not happened to upset me. 

I started writing this yesterday, and am still thinking about it. I do not have the extreme lack of images that is described in the link, I do have sensory memories but I do not have good visual recall, and I don’t have control over any images I see.  I have a very good memory though, so my brain is working around this. It’s unlikely I could train my brain to ever learn this, it is something I will just live with. It is fascinating to think about though, and explains why I may not always experience the same reactions as others-my triggers are different.

I posted the link above to my FB along with another article and reactions were interesting. Most people were very surprised- they are visual, but there was at least one other person who describes similar reactions to me- of static, unclear images. What I find interesting there is that she is an art history person- her degrees are in art history, her job has to do with visual resources, but she doesn’t see mental images.

Food for thought.


Microblog Monday – observations

Nothing too deep, just some observations.

I went bra shopping on the weekend. Apparently lace trimming is in. I do not like lace trimming, but it was unavoidable.  I am a little concerned about the amount of frilliness- why do the companies feel that we need this level of frill and lace? Than again, I was in an outlet store, so maybe this is what is not selling.

I take my lunch to work wrapped in a fabric square. I have done this for years (started when I lived in Japan, where it is normal), and now my husband does too. People comment on this a lot, and there are good reasons, but no one else ever tries it. Not sure why not.

We went to see ghostbusters for the second time tonight. Yes it has flaws, but it’s good. It was interesting to note that a good percentage of the other viewers had seen it before- it is a rewatch film. And the theatre was a third full (20 people in a 50 or so theatre).

We saw the new Bourne movie last week. It was not good.  It would be better to see ghostbusters again.  It does seem to be a trend of disjointed action sequences without a real emotional payoff, and where the whole evil plot is a focus on the hero and revenge.- see also the latest Bond movie and the most recent Mission Impossible.  Oddly enough it doesn’t make for the best movie.

Yes I am playing Pokemon Go. I find it a little bit worrying that some of my family assume that I will know what I am talking about then they ask about it (not using the correct name) but my sister actually bet that I wasn’t playing!