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Mind: The Lost Art of Thinking

Mind_Quote

It’s been a long time since I’ve written.  Most days are filled with me being too tired to see left from right, others are just me running around like a chicken with my head cut off.  But in every step, I have carefully, thoughtfully, and creatively planned my moments.  I make decisions based on where I think I’ll be next.  That, in itself, seems to be a lost art.

I think on things that might need to happen, but also on things that are not yet formulated in the front of my mind.  I find myself making possible decisions down the road, in happenstance that my first, fourth, fifteen, and forty-fifth thought don’t come to fruition.  Although this seems extreme, many people don’t go past the first two.

I’ve noticed in my world that many people do not think about things.  And then when you admit to it, they shame you with the same disdain they would receive from a doting parent or beloved person they looked up to.  That happens to me and it confuses me: Why should I accept your shortcomings as fact and my own as mere neglectfulness?

I think that people do this to make themselves feel better.  If they can’t understand you, or your thought pattern is too far flung from their own, they make you… convince you… how wrong your train of reasoning may be.  “It doesn’t align with my own,” they may say.  “My thoughts are more reasonable [to me], so your consideration… your explanation… as to why we should even go with yours sound like complete and utter babble.  I disagree.  I disagree because I’m scared.  And what I’m scared of is you being right, me being wrong, and not seeing at all how you could be right ahead of time. Or, at all.  That, would make me feel dumb.  And I don’t want to feel dumb.  So I will get to you, first.”

The anger, the sheer embarrassment that one must feel could be surmounting.  I know this feeling because I had it.  As Randall Munroe said in Thing Explainer, he used “big words” because he felt like he needed to prove to people that he was smart.  I’ll take it even further to say that they could be used to prove that one was far beyond the typical person.  I know.  Because I felt the same thing.  This book opened my mind to me, and I hope it does the same for others, but I digress.

The point of this post is to explain why I didn’t want to be in a place.  And that place depended – hinged – on my multifaceted thinking.  Now, let’s get out of the minutiae of inadequate feelings and progress heavily into the socioeconomic pressures.  Most people are aware of the segregation that happens with minority peoples in this country.  So, how does that play in the ability to think down the line?

I’ve noticed that the majority culture doesn’t have to.  They don’t have to think.  Let’s start at that – Level 1: The High Subconscious.  At this level, people don’t need to really plan anything.  It’s laid out for them to follow, much like the lights of a landing strip for airplanes.  They only need to let their natural instincts guide them right between the lines of lights and they’ll land perfectly with room to stop, turn around, and depart the strip… while being attended to for fueling, maintenance, and whatnot.

Level 2: The Role Fitters.  They’re the ones making sure that even though they may not be quite Level 1, they fit into the globular structure of what’s expected of them.  So they may not be the top airline, but they have plenty of concourses, and maybe even their own section.  They complain about Level 1 and their complete need to be taken care of, but they cannot see that they are receiving the same/similar care, just of a lower grade.  And… more than the next levels. Significantly more.

That brings us to Level 3 through Infinity: The Detailers.  These are like the airlines that struggle for a space on the runway, are often the last to take off (often being bumped by a higher level), and share concourse space with other lower levels.  With each lower level, another layer of pride is stripped. The further away one is from Level 1, the less they’ll receive and the harder it will be to understand and comprehend what it’s like to be working on a subconscious level.  Their moves are pre-planned, almost to perfection.  Every step becomes more detailed and intentional.  If one were to go to their time schedule, it would be broken down into minute sections, whereas the Level 1 would almost not even have one… it would be more of a general rules of thought landscape (emphasis for irony).

The hard part of being anything other than Level 1 is that the world, society in general, is not designed to teach, grow, or cater to any other level.  People born into the lower levels won’t receive the same outcome given the same material.  Socioeconomic status lessons will have to be passed down from other non-Level 1s in order for them to survive.  Otherwise, they get swept in the systematic belief that they didn’t try hard enough to succeed and that is why they haven’t received the same gifts and treatment as the Level 1s.

But there is a problem.  Those lessons have stopped for the lower levels.  There’s a gap in information.  The sharing with non-1s is halted.  Either the people who could teach/pass the knowledge to them are taken away, or a new system has confused the design of disseminating this information and thus breaking the chain of progress.  This break expands exponentially, starting a whole generation of people from scratch, and leaving them with the belief they deserve – and will be – treated as equals.

When it comes to race, gender roles, misogyny, and sexual orientation, each one has it’s own Level.  And even within that level, are more levels – First Class on down to Coach.  Overall, we need to see those Levels in order to fix the problems with them.  The hardest part is admitting that there is one.

PTSDforme

That is PTSD… for me.

PTSDforme

Imagine seeing something in your life.  Imagine seeing it over and over again.  Imagine that you have no control over it.

That is PTSD… for me.

Think about something horrific happening in your life.  Something that changes you, makes you a new person.  Something that changes your perspective of everyday life, and what it means to be human and yourself.

Now imagine someone telling you that it’s stupid, to just change it, be different.  And you try.  You pray.  You get on your knees and ask for forgiveness for whatever you’ve done although you know not what it is that has caused this torture in your life, and you say that you’ll change your ways to whatever you need to do.  You plea.  You wait.  You listen.  You repent.  You wait some more.  You repeat until you can’t hear your own voice anymore.

That is PTSD… for me.

Counseling helps.  But when your counselor says that black people being killed is just paranoia in your mind, it doesn’t help.

Talking to friends help.  But when your friends say that you’re delusional and focusing too much on the negative, it doesn’t help.

That is PTSD… for me.

I woke up this morning, thinking that I had a handle on life.  That for once, I had a grip on what I believed and who I was.  But then, something threw me off.

I thought I had thoroughly explained myself to the people I love, but I learned that my truth only hurts and confuses them and they don’t know why I hide my speech.

That is PTSD… for me.

I thought I made sense.  I thought my truth was clear.  I thought my life was easy.

That is PTSD… for me.

That is PTSD… for me.

That… is PTSD.

Do What You Love, Despite the Fear

MyQuotes_PassionEffort

At first, this blog was going to be about following your passion, and then I read this:

http://blogmaverick.com/2012/03/18/dont-follow-your-passion-follow-your-effort/

And then, I stopped to think.

Where does this cycle start?  Which comes first: the passion or the effort?

It seems pretty clear from the article that effort comes first, but really, to start something you have to have a mundane interest in it.

Take for example my thoughts.  I didn’t know what a computer specialist or engineer was.  So, there was no way that I would even know it was something I wanted to do.

Once I stumbled on it… only once it was shown to me… did I decide that it was something worth pursuing.

Am I the greatest at it?  Am I the most adept computer specialist engineer in the entire world?  I would argue to say that I am not.  However, my efforts to be better have nothing to do with whether I’m existingly good or “the best” at it.

That’s where perseverance comes in.  I keep at it.  And yes, with more practice I am getting better.  But, I have not fooled myself into thinking that because I’m not the best that it’s not worth my time or effort.  I think that’s where people often go wrong.

The fear comes in – seeps in – to the skin and the person’s mind becomes disillusioned on the chaos that is insecurity. You begin to wonder, “Was this mine to do to begin with?”  Insecurity is nothing more than fear appearing real to you and setting you on the wrong path to completing your goal.

I’ve stopped to wonder, as I always have, if my fear has prevented me from doing the best things in life.  I almost didn’t go to San Francisco.  I almost didn’t take a job opportunity.  I almost didn’t do an interview, all because of fear.

When it boils down, fear can be a useful subject.  It keeps us out of physical danger, makes us more aware of our surroundings, and demands our focus and things that need our attention.  Otherwise, it seems to only serve the guise of a fool… waiting for you to fail in a self-fulfilling prophecy.

So, doing what you love despite the fear won’t hurt you.  Passion is real and optional.  Keep vigil, and your rewards might not be great, but getting the experience is more than worth it.

Picture of Me as a few days ago in my NASA costume gear

Origin Story II

Picture of Me as a few days ago in my NASA costume gear

My latest-ish picture

Every hero has an origin story.  They often start out thinking that the only thing they want is to be just like everybody else.  In March of this year, I resigned myself to realizing that my life would never be the same, let alone “ordinary”.  I may not be a hero, but I do see the potential if cosmic rays hit.

It all started when I was 8.  That was when I was whisked away to the Gifted Program.  Back then, you got yanked out of your 3rd grade class and placed with a bunch of kids you don’t even know in a place you are not familiar with because you tested “superior” or whatnot.

I liked the challenge, but I was surrounded by strangers who winced when I said I lived in the projects of East St. Louis.  It was like I told them I crawled from under a cardboard box and stumbled into the classroom and asked them for food, drink, and some money.  This was my first lesson in what would be called bourgeois.

All I wanted to do was build things from scratch.  After getting my hands on my first computer, all I could do is wonder what was inside of it and how it worked.  I took things apart at home.  So much so, that my mother and I had to compromise on what was game to be taken apart and put back together.

Throughout life, I continued to be thrown into classes and courses where I stuck out.  I continued my gifted education into middle and high school.  I had been talked out of going to it in primary school because the teachers frankly didn’t want me out of their classrooms.  Something about the grade average going down or some such thing.

Once I learned programming in high school, the game had changed.  I wanted to make this machine do and say things that I had in my head but didn’t have down on paper.  I wondered at the vision behind the Macintosh computer.  I wanted to be like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates and build something gigantic… something that would change the world, and the way it works.  I wanted it to be glorious, something that would redefine what smart, progressive lifestyles would be like.

But along the way, something strange happened.  Something totally unexpected: people told me that I couldn’t do it because I wasn’t smart enough.  That was the first time anyone told me that.  As a matter of fact, it was often the opposite: you’re too smart for your own good.

I wanted to know what else I needed to know, and I wanted to know desperately.  I felt like I was letting down the thing that I loved so much to do by not knowing enough about it to take care of it properly.  My heart hurt and was burning.  I felt like I didn’t really love it or else I would know what I needed to know already.

I found myself taking a course in college where I was sure that I would be the only girl.  I didn’t care.  I had been the only one in my high school’s blueprint/drafting class and one of a few that stuck around for two computer programming courses when I was refused the boy-heavy computer building one.  What I didn’t anticipate was that I would be the only black person.

The societal pressure in college was unexpected.  After battling with severe depression, returning home degree-less, and feeling all sorts of failure, I embarked on what would be my renewed mission and stepping stone to where I am now: Technical Help Desk.

I remembered how every superhero turns the story from being ordinary to being extraordinary: do something different in a situation where you would normally run and hide.  I would not let depression get in the way nor my fear of doing something wrong.  I didn’t want to look stupid, but I didn’t want to stay that way, either.  I went back to school, back online, and refreshed every little piece of knowledge I had.

I built a computer, from scratch.  I’m talking parts (my solder game isn’t on point, yet): case, motherboard, PCI cards, modem (this was back in the day), network cards, hard drives, CD/DVD drives, cables and wiring, power supply… the works.  And I did it.  All before I had an A+ certification.  The computer still worked for a long time, more than most who bought their PCs the traditional store-bought way.  And as a bonus, I could swap out my parts for cheap and override the repair fees.  I ended up building, fixing, and maintaining computers for others.

I went to a meetup, that landed me a job squarely in the technical field after I had all but given up.  I told one of the staff (who I didn’t even know was recruiting me at the time) that I had tried to get jobs in the technical field but no one wanted me, that I had the best offers in the Help Desk field because I “had a really nice voice”.  It’s like the equivalent to the joke where someone telling you that the blind date they set you up with has a really awesome personality.

Fast forward to now.  I’ve worked as an engineer, tacked on an applicable server engineer certification, and am taking over some duties from former coworkers.  But even more so, I gave myself another shot at taking a chance to be the programmer that I once wanted to be when I left high school all those many years ago.  The funny thing is back then, I thought of it as a side job until I got my computer and OS/software empire up off the ground.

I guess I’m still learning how to fly.

The State of Blackness in Today’s Society

BLACK LIVES MATTER

There, I’ve said it.

If you feel a sense of uneasiness, it may be the latent racism hidden within your bones.

It may be the uncomfortableness of the lump within your throat, telling you that you need to leave or not say anything.

WHITE PRIVILEGE

That’s a thing that is real.

You can not wish it away, say it doesn’t matter to you.

You did not create the rules; it applies to you.

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Picture of Me as a child and mom, sepia tone

Origin Story

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Every hero has an origin story.  A beginning of sorts.  Something to tell the masses so that they can get comfortable with the fact that you’re a regular human being with even more insecurities than they have.  Mine started out innocent enough.  I mean, God, look at that picture!  Those cheeks! Anyway, here we go:

I grew up in East St. Louis.  That’s been well-established.  Poor? Check. Demeaned/bullied? Check.  Pushed around and not fitting in? Check and check. Exposed to radioactive poisoning and growing fur, teeth, and an unknown superpower that isn’t released until after the start of puberty? Maybe… I think I’m still going through it.  When does it end? 40? Then I still have one more year.

I was a smart kid.  I advanced some grades… well a little, if you count skipping preschool and going straight to kindergarten.  Anyway, I was ahead of my class, smarter than most, quicker to get things and concepts, yada yada yada.  What I really loved was spaceships and space, in general.  So, imagine my sadness when most of my “science” lessons consisted of “science exists, it’s real, here it is, okay now on to social studies”.  Damn it!  Can’t we just ruminate on the moon landings for a bit? And how awesome it is that the computing power of my little desk calculator got us there?!  No? We need to talk about how people like and don’t like people because of the made-up societal structures that they live in.  Oh, okay… I can see how that’s going to forward humanity as a whole when we’ve got awesome freaking spaceships that I could be in.  Yeah. REEEALLL important.

Needless to say, I was a bit bored in class.  And by a bit, I mean I tried not to fall asleep until something exciting was mentioned.  It wasn’t the teacher’s fault, just that schools were arranged to teach you to be a factory worker, not an independent thinker.  So, you can imagine how hard it was for me to stay awake for that kind of mess.

Fast-forward 30 years later.  Nothing has changed.  I still want to learn about spaceships and people still think that their small-minded worldness is WAY more important than the future and science.  I understand being locked in to a mentality that you just can’t get away from.  I have depression, I know that feeling all too well.  But I can’t get why people are jumping in the way and stopping people like me from going forward and bringing a better world to us all.  What is it about doom and gloom that makes people want to steal someone else’s thunder and joy?

I would think that the best way to get someone to ever think about the future is to immerse them in it.  Let them feel all the woes of losing, and the cheers of winning.  Let them experience how it feels to walk through the dark of frustration and the light of awareness.  For without those things, you never learn to learn anything.  People don’t know how to learn, and science teaches you how to do that, everyday.  There’s nothing I hate more than keeping a person from learning, and then hindering their growth, and following that by asking them why they haven’t done anything with their life.

In my origin story, I’m learning the character-building techniques to make me a superhero.  I’m still in the middle of mine.  I don’t know when or where or how I will reveal my powers, I don’t know what time they will appear, but I’m here, waiting… for the perfect moment to arrive.

#SuperHeroInTraining

#HappyBirthdaySallyRide

Giving Up on Being Perfect and other nonsense ramblings.

Quote from Anna Quindlen posted on wall.

Courtesy of LoveWarriorCommunity.com

Not too long ago, I wrote a long Facebook post on how I gave up on perfection and gained all these wonderful experiences.  It started with my trip to San Fran and ended with a miracle trip to DC to see the president.  I could not have asked for a more magical moment.

But then, I returned back to civilization, to the fairy-tale of the Cinderella worker who once was and wanted to be at the ball again.  I enjoyed the limelight for what it was: the glamour, the fantasticalness. But then, I wanted it to all calm down again.  I wanted to be a normal… a nobody.

I thought that I could slip back into irrelevance if I kept quiet and my nose to the grind.  I wanted to prove to my coworkers that I was no mere flash-in-the-pan success story that interned their way into a major corporation… that I really did, and am, a good worker, fast learner, and a true techie at heart.

But reading people has been difficult.  I see the faces, I hear the stories, but I search for deeper inside and I see nothing there.  Not that they’re empty, but that they have no more stories or passions to share.  Maybe it’s the dreams that were missing, never there, or died off.  Maybe it’s the settlement that I’m not familiar with in my own life as I reach for “too much”.  I admit that I’m a seeker.  I haven’t been satisfied with the complacency of just having a job, I want a career and a life goal – something to make me want to wake up in the morning and help people do what I did.

Overall, I’ve heard people say that I would make the perfect [insert here non-technical role].  Yes, as a woman, a person of color, and a leader, I have the audacity to lead a group through the bowels of hell, but that doesn’t mean I want to be a full-time paper-pusher-cum-manager. I only want to push people through glory to see their own dream fulfilled.  I don’t understand those that don’t want to.  Maybe they have given up.

I decided to give up, too.  I gave up on being perfect.  I would plan something to do, only to stop short because I wasn’t in the right condition or frame of mind to do so.  Come to think about it, that is what depression is in and of itself.  It’s when you plan something to do, and you want to, but you have this yearning to not do it because something awful can happen to throw your whole life off.

I decided to go to Six Flags merely days after bowling in a volunteer organization effort.  Now, normally I would have said “No.”  I wasn’t in the right space.  But I just thought, “Maybe, just maybe, I could just do it and see what happens.  No expectations.  If I get tired, I get tired.  And I’ll be sad, but at least I did try and if my body gives out, so be it.”  I ended up being alright.  Not fantastic, but not awful either. Livable.

I wonder if this is the same tenacity that drove the astronauts forward to the moon, or who made the racer take the last lap, or propels a starving man across the desert to see his children again.  The hope that maybe, one day, you will make it and live to tell the story.  And that if you don’t, then so be it.  At least, you tried.

I see the same thing with my future.  I see that someone wants to slow me down, say “woahhhh”, and tell me that they’ve been there and that I need to take my time.  Nothing infuriates me more than a person holding me back because they think I can’t handle it.  But maybe they can’t.  Maybe they won’t excel because they are convinced there is a timed pace that is supposed to outline their lives.

I keep pushing forward, taking breaks to rest my tired soul, and then I keep pushing forward.  I’m not perfect, but I won’t get anywhere if I don’t try. What am I waiting for?