Assistive Technology and Being a Grown Up


I genuinely, no kidding, need assistive technology to be a grown up. I’m 47, so I was in my thirties before I had A) the technology, and B) a system to help get around this. It is not always perfect, but this helps.

The technology means I have beepy reminders to do things. I use these for everything from making my bed and washing the dishes to making sure I work on contracts for clients and keeping up with relationships with people I care about.

Thing is, as anyone who has this problem knows, beepy reminders are not enough. You’ll go down a rabbit hole chasing something that isn’t important pretty quick and still not solve everything.

I have to combine this with a pretty strict schedule. If I don’t stick to it, my llfe falls apart. My schedule would seem crazy and oppressive to someone who doesn’t share my issues. It deals with bedtimes, when to do paperworky stuff like calling for and scheduling appointments and doing bills, making sure I get enough exercise, making sure I take some time to do something chosen at a whim, making sure I contact people that are important to me or doing the shopping and even scheduling opportunities for naps (I need a lot of sleep)

It helps a lot. I find I need something from the store? Its goes on the list for my scheduled shopping day. Barring an emergency, I only shop then. I get a bill I need to deal with, or some other taxy-kinda thing? It goes on my pile for Paperwork time. (Filing Time comes after Paperwork time). Tasks are broken down into very small units and I’ll think ahead to plan out what is needed for each step of a task to make sure I have what I need for the task before I go on. And yes, Plan Tasks has its own place on my schedule.

Thing is, if you see me in an office situation, you’ll think I’m really organized and together. I worked for a man for THREE YEARS who thought I was really organized and had this great memory until he played a joke on me before my last day, asking for some work I’d never agreed to do. I didn’t catch that he was being outrageous and goofy because I was automatically going to my computer to look up what I’d agreed to do and see what progress I’d made on it. He was surprised when I confessed to him that I had a system to take care of stuff because I get so distracted and can’t remember things.

Some people can just DO this stuff. My mom can. She sees dirt or clutter, and she just CLEANS it, and doesn’t get distracted. I can’t do that. it isn’t NATURAL to me, so I had to develop some very rigid routines to take care of it instead. To someone who does not have my problems, it probably seems like a terribly regimented way to live. In some ways, it is.

But the house is clean (enough), I get enough exercise, bills get paid and paperwork followed up on. That things get taken care of is better for me than the anxiety and confusion I experience when I do not have these rigid systems in place.

Misunderstood Genius


My husband has finally gotten me to agree to get around to watching the third season of Sherlock with him.

There is a scene between Sherlock and Mycroft discussing their contempt of lesser beings with lesser intellects and it got under my fingernails.

I’m in sort of a similar situation to Sherlock.  Let’s just say while I knew I was smart, when I found out what my IQ actually was, I was startled.  Like Sherlock, I have a brother whose IQ is higher. (He also has a son who is smarter than both of us)

We do NOT sit around rolling our eyes at the idiotic proles, okay?  We’re bright, that’s great, and there’s a lot more to being a superior human being than the ability to do well on a standardized test.  There are lots of people with lower IQs and more drive that are more successful than me, ‘kay?

But more than that.  Kindness matters.  I mean really matters.  Yes, intelligence is awesome and useful and I bless the people who used their amazing brains to make the device I’m typing this on, who develop cures for diseases, who help people.

But brains do not give you a free pass to be an asshole.

Bento, I’m Sorry I’ve Cheated on You


I haven’t been eating properly lately. I’ve been buying my lunch at work, and have even been buying muffins for breakfast in the morning. The foolishness of this came to a head the other day when I felt a blood sugar drop in the late morning from a combination of too much sugar and too much coffee. I haven’t had that happen in years, and it was disturbing to have it happen in front of a class that I had to muscle through before I could stop and do something about it. Better to eat the high-protein breakfast and not be an idiot, right?

Not to mention the fact that it’s a lot more expensive than packing my own lunch. So, I took a serious look at my bad eating habits and decided I’m going to clean up my act for health’s sake, right?

I’m totally not. It wasn’t that I almost fainted in front of a class. Nope. The thing that pulled me up short was doing the books and being honest with myself about how much I was spending. I’d rather spend that money on books or something. It was just that lately I’ve been to damn lazy to make bento for myself.

I have some new bento boxes that I’m using now. They’re by Bentgo, and honestly? They’re enormous! My usual bento is like this 600ml job. The lower section of this lunchbox is that large!

But in a way, I’m okay with that as well. Remember when I was talking about buying muffins for breakfast because we were going in too early to have a proper breakfast at home?

I can totally make a breakfast bento in the upper half, then our usual lunch bento in the lower half. ‘Sall good.

I got to thinking about these boxes, though, and what kind of lunches I could make in them that wouldn’t be far too large, and realized that the smart thing to do would be to have the top portion reserved for carbs-n-protein and then pack the bottom with fruit and veggies. I like fresh veggies a lot, so this would be a fun way to make some lunches. I’ll be posting some of the ones I make as I come up with stuff.

The thing is, I feel like a bit of a fraud talking about making bento and stuff – how healthy it is. How much cheaper it is. How nice they are. ‘Sall true, mind, but…

I’m leaving my full time office job. Now, I work as hard for Figart Consulting as I ever do in an office. You work harder for yourself. It’s a thing. Anyone who is self-employed will back me on that one.

But the work flow is very different. You might be up and working at six in the morning (that’s my favorite time to write), but you’ll take a break around ten to putter around the house, talk to yourself about what you want to do next, then get back to work doing something else for a few hours. Oh, it adds up, and cumulatively, you work more hours, but they’re paced differently. You don’t have as many interruptions, and you likely have a million times more privacy. You get more done. That really adds up.

So, when I am sitting here writing about bento, I’m doing it as a work from home kinda gal (well, at least starting next week). I can make those bento on a fifteen minute break from working. Can’t do that from an office!

And for anyone who is asking me why in the world I’d start thinking more about making bento when I’ve got my mind on working from home? It’s twofold.

The first is that my husband still works from an office. If I send a bento in with him, he’s not buying lunch unless it’s a necessary socialization thing occasionally, himself. The savings add up there, too. Not to mention, I’d just as soon he eats healthily.

The other reason is that when you work from home, you work close to a fully-stocked kitchen. Buddy, you want to have a nice, healthy lunch to grab out of the fridge. You want that healthy lunch to be easiest thing to do when you’re hungry. You might be able to talk yourself out of “wasting” money on the muffin, but you don’t have that argument available from your house. At least I don’t. I’m a good cook. I want the bar to the healthy option as low as possible, or I totally will make that apple crumble in the toaster oven, ya know?

Do you have ways that you try to make it easy to eat the way you feel best eating? What do you do?

Prompt: What are you proud of?

Another in a list of writing prompts. This one is asking what I’m proud of.

Like anyone who has led a reasonably active life, there are things I am proud of, and things I’m not. The prompt said to pick anything. That’s so wide open, I have no real idea.

I’d say I’m proud of my ability to learn new things.

I was born with that. I got lucky. That’s not something to take pride in.

I’d say I’m proud of my intelligence.

Again, that was luck. I was born with a good brain and grew up in an environment that encouraged creative thought and innovation. Not just my parents, mind. My grandparents were all about coming up with clever solutions to problems — even my very conservative and by-the-book paternal grandmother. I’m third generation on that one.

Accomplishments? Sure, I’m proud of them. I’d be silly not to be. Think of the things you’ve done/created/accomplished/overcome. I hope you’re proud of those things, too. ‘Cause wow, we humans can do some cool and clever stuff.

The thing is, I think I’m proudest of showing courage — doing something I’m genuinely, no kidding scared of doing. And no, I’m not going to talk about that swim I did last weekend.

I want to talk about a time when I was scareder than that and I showed a lot more self-control.

When I was fifteen, I got mononucleosis. I was sick, sick, sick — utterly exhausted and drained. I was also terrified of needles, and I’m one of those people that a phlebotomist hates. Tiny veins. As sick as I was, I was probably mildly dehydrated on top of everything else. My parents had a bear of a time getting me to swallow any liquid because my glands had swollen and my throat hurt so much.

So here I am in the doctor’s office. In protesting getting stuck with a needle in that office over the years, I’d screamed, cried, tried to run away, and fought. Once when a nurse was trying to give me a penicillin shot in the butt for one of my endless bouts of earaches, I clenched my muscles so tightly that it bent the needle.

So yeah, scared of needles in a big way.

How do they diagnose mono, boys and girls? Why yes. A blood test!

At fifteen, I wasn’t as likely to freak as much as I had when younger, but I would be a diamond studded liar if I were to say that I was over my fear of needles. (I’m over it now…. Well, at least no more than a mild distaste)

As I sat in the chair and the nurse put a strap around my upper arm to help the vein pop up more, a small child who was next in line for a blood draw stood in the door watching me — a big eyes and sucking her thumb.

The nurse was having a terrible time finding a vein and kept sticking me over and over. But looking at that kid, I knew there was nothing in the world that was going to make me react. Oh, no. I hated the needles and hated getting stuck, but I smiled at the kid and chatted with her.

So, it was the self-control I was proud of, right?

Nope. Not even a little.

That I knew in my soul I owed it to that little kid to try to set an example to make things a little easier for her, that it was truly the first honest adult impulse I ever had.


Oh, yes. I’m proud of that.

Why Do You Thank People?

This was an interesting writing prompt, but kind of a weird one to a Virginian reared in Virginia traditions. It’s how one is supposed to live, after all.

  • I thank people for opening doors.
  • I thank people for handing me something.
  • I thank my husband for making my coffee in the morning.
  • I thank my co-workers for helping me out with stuff.
  • I thank my students for their participation in class
  • I thank my son for setting the table (or did when he lived at home)

So, that’s a daily part of my life. Is it that I’m so jaded that the thank you doesn’t mean anything? Not in the least. It does mean something. I love the little exchanges of favors and small daily kindnesses. They’re what make life graceful and good. Yes, indeed, I’m thankful for them.

I just think that sometimes there’s some real serious above and beyond going on and “Thank you” while exactly the correct thing to say, seems a bit weird when they’re the same words I use when handed a piece of paper, ya know?

Last weekend, I did a swim. I cut it short from the four miles I’d intended to do to two miles because I had gotten scared and freaked out. (Bad weather, a few other things. You can see my Slow as Christmas blog for the whole story).

During the whole event, I was thankful for the guy who organized it. I was thankful for the swimmer who talked me down from what I can only call a panic attack, and my husband who battled waves and wind and uncertain weather to escort me through the damn fool adventure and keep me safe.

You bet I was thankful to the people that made that swim even possible.

I think part of the reason thankfulness is a good habit is that it does remind you that you’re part of a whole. Sure, sure, your accomplishments are to your credit, but no-one lives in splendid singleness. Everyone who has every accomplished anything at all does it with support from other people.

Even the act of me writing this piece in my quiet living room with only the sound of the aquarium to bubble and soothe my mind through the process, it’s only possible because of the help I got from other people. I can write because of a mother who read to me and taught me the power of words and story. I can write because of the teachers who taught me to read and write. I have this computer because of my father who taught me to program, and friends who encouraged me to explore the possibilities of the Internet, which led me to earn enough money to obtain it. Shoot, the chair I’m sitting in so comfortably was a result of a shared purchase in my household.

Moreover, we’re all like this. The accomplishments of other people that we see are volcanic peaks sticking out over the vast ocean, but underneath, it’s possible and exists at all because we’re mutually supported from the collective magma pushing up through the crust.

From that, the only appropriate emotion is gratitude, I think.

The Declaration of Independence: A Transcription

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.