Some psychology, some sadness, some funnies.

Saturday, November 26, 2011


As it turns out, he's married. Which is exactly the kind of thought-stopper I was looking for, though I expected it to be more along the lines of "girlfriend" or "I'm not interested". Instinct or pheromones knew he wasn't quite right, but his curly blond hair, gentle lisp and large vocabulary enticed me otherwise. It was that nagging presence of an anything triggering the circuits wired for a something. Respectable guy.

I've come to know...I need a certain level of immaturity. If you can't recognize a sexual innuendo when it presents itself or are especially focused on things like property taxes I'll inevitably find myself bored.

That guy just said "balls". Come on, that's funny.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Rat Pies

There are a lot of entities in this house. Four people, two dogs and two rats. The rats are tucked in my room, repetitive existence, and I keep calling them mice. And I can't stop referring to them as male when they're not.

I'm babbling about this because my conceptualization of the rats, and the titles that help form it, has been a continuous consideration of mine as I become accustomed to their moods and find out where they sit in my heart.

Have you heard about "mirror neurons"? We have specialized nerve cells that are equipped to sense and replicate/reciprocate others' physical expressions of emotions. We are wired to empathize. Those in the mental health field love this concept because it's occupationally validating and also makes incredible sense with regard to what we see as human observers. Physiology so often follows instinct.

Autistic children will show a deficit in social learning such that they don't engage in those reciprocal moments with their caregiver...that is, they tend not to be inclined to share their joys with others or to make eye contact and recognize the emotions of people around them. It must be difficult for the parents of autistic children in that they don't receive loving, reciprocal feedback from the child. It can come with practice and learning, but those parents are initially fueled by love for a being they've created; filled with dedication but pained by the dearth of connection.

So it is with my rats, sometimes. They were lab rats (an amusing choice for a psych major, I thought) and weren't socialized well as pups. Getting them used to me has felt like a chore much of the time, and I've felt guilty for that. You get angry at them. Like when one hides under a dresser for a full twelve hours until you have to force it out by prodding it with whatever object you can find.

Since autism is a spectral disorder, different levels of functioning and different areas of impairment manifest for each child. The literature strongly suggests that initial levels of impairment play a large role in how much progress can be made. From the beginning, it was clear that Finkle was a more curious and adventurous rat. Einhorn (aptly named, with its linguistic approximation to Eeyore) tended to be less active and more fearful. Finkle has made a lot more progress since October 30th when I first got them, and frankly, I'm not sure I have the patience to do the things that will push Einhorn toward comfort. An active person like myself has difficultly sitting in one place, hands still as winter trees, waiting for a rodent's natural curiosity to override its fear. We're talking up to an hour of loving persistence when I have homework to do and finals to study for. Add to that the depressive's fear that when I slow down, I stop.

And yet, they're my beautifuls. They're my obligation and my annoying reason for taking action each day. Those tiny paws...they rest on your index finger while they survey the array of thoughtfully chosen munchables arranged in your hand. They let you see their faces while they scan the terrain for danger, heads weaving side to side like they've developed some kind of neurological disorder. Fuck the rats. And they're mine. And they reject me. And I'm their world now.