Weeknotes S05E01

Well, my friends. This has been a very, very difficult week. Beginnings are never easy. Endings are also never easy. Everything, frankly, is very difficult, and I propose we all give it up and retire immediately to our slippers.


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NaBloPoMo #15

Day + 1 of a diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome, which also happens to be Day 0 of my new role.

Oh, also: weeknotes! Let us slip into the familiar format, the way you do with your skin when you wake unencumbered on a Saturday morning.

Five things that happened this week

1I got a diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome and wrote about my immediate reaction. I didn’t write about the outpouring of love and support I’ve received from everyone I’ve told, but it was there, and I’m grateful to all of you. I got the diagnosis on Thursday morning and it – well, it didn’t feel strange at all. It didn’t feel different, and I didn’t feel worried. This is apparently symptomatic, and I need to reflect on how much of my personality to this point has been performative. How much of it is the friendly flesh-wrapper around something that’s human-esque but not quite there. At the same time, mind you, this may be a drastic over-reaction. The pendulum of human emotion makes big swings, and while it’s right to re-examine one’s life in the light of the knowledge that one has always been a little different, it is also true to say that not everything was false. We cannot avoid the re-examination, but I’m leaving this here as a reminder to be generous with myself. Like everyone else I’ve constructed a shell from cast-off words and my parents’ cloth and the things I thought I should say. I am going through the process of peeling those sections back to see what they covered up, and whether I should prefer to expose that part of myself, and in so doing carry less weight. At least thanks to my diagnosis I, unlike many, know what to expect in certain places.

2I abandoned my team. I left without saying goodbye. It felt strange to say goodbye, since I was moving no more than twenty metres, and yet I feel sure that I should have done so. Goodbyes are hard. Well. Early goodbyes are hard. Final goodbyes are easy. A bridge you leave standing is a temptation to return to the past; an ambiguity to be despised. A bridge that you’ve set alight will illuminate your way forward.

3I got really quite stuck on a technical challenge that I haven’t managed to figure out yet. I’ve also noticed already how much I miss coding, so if you’re reading this and wondering if some kind of technical solution might be a way of meeting a need then let me know. A good way of working out if you have unmet user needs is looking at your spreadsheets. If you need loads to manage all your data, then you might need me to code something for you. Please get in contact. I need to write something for a computer.

4I received mail! A letter from a friend who’d sat down and thought about me and written loads of words. It is the nicest thing in the world. I know us weeknoters say this a lot, but letter are absolutely lovely. Actually, now I reflect on it, is there a correlation there? That we’re naturally people who like writing and also like receiving considered pieces of writing from other people? Or is it that the desire for letters is universal, and it only appears that weeknoters are more eager for letters because we express that desire in public? Answers, please, in the format of epistles. And to my dear friend, I am writing your response, and I am grateful beyond words for your thoughtfulness.

5I started with a new therapist. Together we are going to explore the peculiar pathways of my brain. I am seeing this therapist on the advice of a dear friend whose opinion I trust without question. I wish I could have come to the conclusion by myself, but then it’s quite nice to let friends help you every once in a while. Besides, my brain is the thing that means I earn enough money to allow me to – let me check my email – yes, continue to not move into my new flat. I am a recent convert, and like all recent converts something of a zealot. Do, if you can, hire the services of a therapist. It is astonishingly powerful, if you can find one you can get along with. Mine has a dog companion called Eddie who is remarkably skilled in knowing the precise point at which the comforting weight of a canine skull is exactly the thing a fellow needs. Dogs are almost as good as therapists. The both together are a surely a winner.

Other writing this week:

November is National Blog Posting Month, or NaBloPoMo. I’ll be endeavouring to write one blog post per day in the month of November 2019 – some short and sweet, others long and boring.

S04E19: but soft, what light?

how far i’ve come

Here’s a picture towards Tower Bridge from London Bridge. It was the morning and the sun was moody and shrouded, and her long tongue lapped the water. You can see Tower Bridge silhouetted, but you can’t see me. You can’t see all the people streaming along behind me, gearing themselves up for another day of work. So many muted shades.

Later I took a picture of London Bridge from Tower Bridge in the afternoon. How far I’ve come! How different everything is! The river – that’s not the same river that was here this morning. And these people! I could barely see them this morning and now here they are, clonking me with cameras, smiling pure and brilliant smiles in the diminishing sun.

I’m struck in these two pictures by the sense of distance; the space between these images which is a stretch of the inconstant river and the time is the passage of the sun. Except the sun doesn’t move; or, rather, by our piddling measurements she doesn’t move – she is dancing a gentle pirouette around the centre of our galaxy, but we hardly notice. We’ve moved, but it appears that we are fixed and all else moves.

Is there an ever-fixèd mark, like the man says? I drank in the delight of those around me and enjoyed the simple pleasure of waving to tourists on boats down the Thames; unheard, but seen; that simple connection from human to human that is somehow easier from a distance. Pleasure is pleasure to pursue and pain is ever-loitering: death holds no fear save that pain will be its midwife.

Tomorrow I will be back amongst the muted shades. The sun shall hold her same position and the towers will still loom, but I will be different again, and more the next day, and so will you, and this thing will pass, these feelings will fade; you are an ever changing riot of colour and love and life and amazing, and I am pleased and proud and glad that you are here.

If we must change let us change together.

the difficult conversations

I am enjoying the stretching sensation of having difficult conversations at work.1Oh yes, this is a work-flavoured weeknote. Let me know when you’re back from your fainting couch I pushed myself into this space with force, and I’m doing my best not to back down. What’s helping me the most is that I keep reminding myself that empathy is a superpower, and even more that pulling rank is just a form of violence. Forcing myself to solve the problem in the slightly more difficult, more human-centric way, is a valuable lesson and one I could do with spending more time learning.

Right now, one of those difficult conversations is pushing someone out of their comfort zone so that they can have a difficult conversation they’ve been shying away from. I don’t blame them for shying away, and I feel slightly awkward about the pushing, but I’m also certain that it is a valuable skill to learn. I’m also hyper-aware that my organisation is a genuinely great place, where people are overwhelmingly kind to each other and everyone’s genuinely doing their best. It creates a reasonably safe space to have these conversations with empathy and honesty.

I’ve found that reflected in my feedback – it’s feedback season again – and I’m catching myself enjoying taking the time to reflect on my colleagues and working out what’s great about them but also what I think they could do differently. It’s weirdly intimate, I think, to get feedback about yourself that you instantly understand but had never considered, and I’m really hopeful that I can offer a little bit of that.

the joy of making

I dropped in to see a friend the other day and saw they were getting one of those pre-prepped meal kits. I was intrigued2influenced to try it out for myself, and I’m really enjoying it. I pick recipes from a limited choice and they just send me stuff, and it seems to spark something in my brain that says “well, now you gotta make it”. And I do. And it means I’ve got lunch the next day too, because the smallest kit they do is for two people.

But more than the practical “I’ve got food to eat now” is the new-remembered joy of creativity. I’ve been struggling to cook for myself for a little while now, and this gentle nudge has been fantastic for reminding me how much I love the sensation of doing things that aren’t tapping away at a keyboard. The joy of smelling that point where meat starts to brown. The strange stickiness of garlic and the satisfying solidity of a potato.

I found this again when I tended bar for an old school friend. I was once a very good bartender, and finding that flow again is amazing. The numerous different tactile sensations you run through: the hard neck of a bottle; the feeling of it leaving your hand; the barely-noticed calculation that tells you where it’ll land; the burning cold of a well-iced shaker as you race against pain to mix a drink.

I noticed it again when I sat down with two lovely people and drank hot tea at a wooden table. I put my fingertips to smooth china and then to rough wood and we imagined worlds where, among the dark decaying ruins of what we called our civilisation, the crabs seized their chance and made the Great Leap forward3sideways, surely? Ed.

My point in all this is that I am starting to find joy in the little things again, and I think that’s a sign. It’s the first blackbird you hear at 3am as you hug yourself on the sofa with a cup of coffee.4because your bastard cat woke you up at 2.45 It means the sun is coming soon, and there shall be light and warmth again, and all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.

Weeknotes S04E018:

This week, despite being on leave, has been fairly busy. I’ve done a lot of writing, a lot of chess, a lot of self-reflection. Just one bit of writing this week, about my experience with part of the assessment for autistic spectrum disorder I’m undergoing.

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