Sunday, December 17, 2006

Six weird things about me: the home game!

I have been tagged in the "6 weird things" game in which I am to post six weird things about myself before tagging six others.

There seem to be only two rules:

1) You can be retagged

2) The only way not to be retagged is to add an additional rule.

On to weirdsville!

Number one: I’ve never kept Xmas. Originally this was because, while I was growing up, my parents never kept Christmas due to religious beliefs (which basically amounted to: if it ain’t in the old testament, we aren’t doing it – so no Hanukah either). So as an adult, I have no warm and fuzzy memories of late December, no family gatherings, no presents and no emotional connection to a day even the Christians must know has nothing to do with Christ’s actual birthday (throwing the odd coincidence of Saturnalia aside, the pageants combining events at least a year apart like the birth with the arrival of the “wise men” should be some indication?). My general experience of Xmas has been: customers in retail who get angrier and angrier as Christmas approaches; a level of tension manifesting itself in parking-lot road rage; the hypocracy of cards arriving from people who won’t talk to me the rest of the year and people “caring” about the strata of society they walk over (exemplified when I volunteered to help serve a homeless dinner put on by a corporation my partner worked for. The corporate head started the dinner by saying to the homeless, “It’s so good to see so many familiar faces here again.”)

My favorite carol is the Coventry Carol, a 15th century carol about Christmas genocide. It’s not that popular because I guess people don’t like to be reminded that the same “wise men” who show up with gifts also helped sparked a fear in a paranoid king (Herod) which resulted in the death of tens of thousands of infants. Jesus was greeted in this world, not by singing and goodwill, but by dead bodies of children, stacked like cordwood. One artist’s video captures some of the theme in what is the all around creepiest Christmas Carol video I have ever seen (a goth Christmas), linking the Coventry Carol to the Holocaust (singing kinda of odd, video....very creepy).

Weird number two: I sometimes suffer from Sleep Hypnopompia Paralysis – which is, I think, the official third circle of hell. While you sleep, when you enter REM sleep and dream, your body does something (they still aren’t quite sure what) which paralyzes your body from moving so you don’t act out your dreams. With Sleep Hypnopompia Paralysis, you wake up and become conscious, but are still completely paralyzed from REM sleep. You can hear but you can’t see (because you can’t lift your eyelids) and you can’t move; not even the twitch of a pinkie. It’s a lot like waking up inside a corpse. I would spend my time trying to scream. No dice; no grunts, no whispers. Thankfully, Linda became quickly attuned to my breathing patterns and when they changed from sleep to awake but under paralysis she would wake up and start touching and moving my body until whatever switch that kept the paralysis going switched off. Go Linda! Sleep paralysis used to be called, “Old Hag Syndrome” on the basis that there was some evil spirit or thing sitting on your chest; the Chinese term indicates it is an evil ghost keeping you from being able to move.

Weird thing number three: I’ve read over 10,000 books. This is because a form of dyslexia separates my phonological section of my brain from the visual and linguistic. What this means is that my speech and reading vocabulary are different, and not phonetically shared. It also means that when I read; I am not limited or linked to “sounding words in my head” like most people, in fact, a study of similar “compensated dyslexics” showed the visual part of the brain being used in silent reading. When I read (about a page every 15-20 seconds), my brain usually uses the shape of the words to construct a visual image, and so I tend to see a type of movie in my head. And since I read the book faster than watching the film (about 60-90 minutes a book), that is what I used to prefer (until I figured out that if I turn on the subtitles, and put the speed at 4X on my laptop, I can read AND watch the about 25 minutes). However, because of the separation, I often cannot often read a page aloud; particularly when I run into words where I might know what they mean and what they “look” like, and how they “feel” inside my head but I have no idea what they actually sound like. This isn’t to say I’m not articulate, it is just my vocabulary comes from words others have spoken, not what I have read. This is sometimes awkward when I try and talk about something I have researched or blogged about and cannot even come close to pronouncing the word or subject I have just written 2000 words concerning.

Current treatment for people with my condition to make them read aloud a lot to try and link the two sides of the brain together. I am thankful I escaped that. While it was difficult as an English teacher to be constantly misspelling words on the board, and my reading aloud skills in junior high were at a third grade level, but by the age of 7 I was reading and comprehending at a high school level and by 9th grade I could read 1000 pages on a school night. So when other students were reading one book to write a paper, I was reading EVERY book on that subject (Entering high school I had loaning privilages at a university library), which would normally get me an A, except my spelling and grammar would reduce that back to a B. All I can say is "Thank God for spell check!"

Okay, number four, I have a fear of phones and when I moved away from home, didn’t get a phone until Linda moved in with me. To this day, I still have a difficult time actually calling someone. I can’t really explain it, sorry. Letters are okay, emails are okay, face to face is okay – phones bad! Needless to say, I don’t have a cell phone.

Weird thing number five is that I collect anthropological accounts of cannibalism. I have found OTHER people think this weird, I think it is normal. I became shocked in university that certain, shall we call them, taboo subjects meant that original accounts of human behavior which showed up in societies around the world were not being recorded or preserved. In an attempt to preserve what I see as a sort of universal human social trait and its meaning, I started to collect any original accounts of cannibalism, particularly culturally connected cannibalism. For instance, there are Amazon Basin cultures which require cannibalism to enter heaven – which was a real problem for the Christian missionaries trying to convince relatives to not eat their loved ones to help them pass into heaven but instead to stick them in the cold earth and let bugs eat them instead. Indeed missionaries are a great source, even if sometimes their cultural innocence gets them into trouble; like when one Micronesian tribe required human sacrifice to the Gods for the dedication of a long-house, usually supplied by slaves captured in raids from other tribes. In one case, the chief was looking at a difficult task, as the long house was complete, yet there were no slaves and he was going to have to choose among his own tribe for sacrifices when suddenly three men with white skin walked into the village and through hand gestures indicated that God had sent them specifically to that village. And who says prayer doesn’t work?

Okay, last one; Linda says this is weird. I become increasing anxious the longer someone points their feet at me. That’s it, nothing rational or medical about it that I know of, I just really disturbed when people point their feet at me, including when they cross their leg and then their foot is bobbing, bobbing, their toe pointing right at me. Ahhhhhhh! (if you are trying you “chat me up” and you talk about licking my feet – I WILL hurt you)

Whew, done!

I now nominate:

Quaker Fencer
Daniel, the guy in the desert with lot of pics of hot guys


Daniel, the Guy in the Desert said...

Yay! Thanks for tagging me. As I'm incurable needy, every mention of me reassures me that I do indeed exist, after all.
You know, I read on my own freakishly early. I was reading those little "Golden Books" before the age of three. Some of those are still almost memorized.
But my reading vocabulary and speaking vocabulary developed separately. It took me years to learn that the word I was pronouncing "I diet", was actually pronounced like "idiot", which reflected my feelings at the time.
In junior High my reading comprehension tested at Grad school level, but my verbal and math skills merited tutoring. Like Moses, I'm a man of "stammering lips". I guess I need to save this for my wierd meme.

GayProf said...

But I just did this meme! Good to see, btw, that you are keeping up with my blog. ;-)

My second-grade Christmas marked the first time that I heard the story of Herod and the slaughter of the innocents. It was probably also my first questioning of religion. So, if God is all-knowing, shouldn't he have known that sending his son down would prompt this? If so, shouldn't he have intervened so that, you know, people wouldn't kill babies. To be honest, God always seemed like a dead-beat dad. I mean, Mary had to flee to EGYPT! Where was God? Huh?

Annnyway, I share the phone thing (which you would know, if you had read my version of this meme, which I had just done).

In terms of cannibalism -- Everybody needs a hobby.

Elizabeth McClung said...

gayprof - you did this TWO WHOLE weeks ago - I mean, please, that's like an entire first date, second date, moving in, engagement, selecting future house, first arguement, second arguement, unreconsilable differences, splitting up, fighting over custody of the cat, learning to accept each other and "agreeing to be friends" in Lesbian Time.

And though I know this is all about you, you, you - maybe you should realize this is just a sad demonstration of how few humans I really know....

Jim said...

Now I have to figure out how to point my feet at you on strip and possibly turn a phone into a bell guard.

Sober @ Sundown said...

You are a very interesting person and funny person, Beth. Thanks for playing this silly game.

I tried to find my Princess Bride DVD, but can't find it anywhere. I was looking forward to watching that tonight. I might have to rent a copy......

tornwordo said...

Maybe you were Thai in a past life. Foot pointing is taboo in their culture.

lol gayprof

Wiccachicky said...

Aw crap! I don't know if I want to tell people 6 weird things about me! :P

Anonymous said...

I'm working on it.... let me get back to you in a bit... (grrrr)

Elizabeth said...

Wow about the sleep thing!!! I never knew it actually had a name. It sounds very familiar to what I experienced as a child. It scared the shit out of me.

I knew I was awake but I couldn't move. It was if something was on top of me pushing me down. I would try to move but couldn't. I would try to scream but couldn't. I would try as hard as I could to wake up even though I knew I was awake. I found that when I was sleeping on my back it always happened so I tried to always sleep on my side.

I finally confronted it head on, as if I was in a waking dream. Instead of forcing myself 'awake' I just let it take me. I'll never forget it. It felt as if my body was being thrown about the room but I was awake the whole time.

It never happened after that. I think I was 14 or 15.

Elizabeth McClung said...

yeah, for some people sleeping on your back, stress and other changes can cause it - since they aren't sure exactly why it happens, having it during your teens makes sense to me

Sober@sundown: no Princess Bride, That's inconcievable!

Anonymous said...

Okay - I did it. There are too many Elizabeths hangin out here - my head hurts.

Elizabeth said...

There can never be too many Elizabeths. We're poised to take over the world.