Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith

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Notes for "Like Hugging an Alley Cat"

These are the notes for "Like Hugging an Alley Cat."


"Loving someone who doesn't love you back is like hugging a cactus. The tighter you hold on, the more it's going to hurt."
-- Unknown

This shows the outside of Blues Moon with the main floor and two layers of apartments. The smaller building on the right also belongs to the Ebonies & Ivories, used as storage space for artwork and furnishings which can be used in any of the apartments above the jazz joint. The two floors above the club have apartments similar to these. The hallway extends all the way to the back stairs. The central stairwell and elevator is instead a common lounge area with public bathrooms. On the lower floor, the front right "open" apartment is a flop room with multiple beds, which can sleep a total of 12 people. The front left "Mies" apartment is furnished normally, but not permanently assigned, used as temporary housing or extra function space as needed. Shiv gets the back left "standard" apartment, with the bathroom protected inside the bedroom. Popgun has the right middle semi-open apartment. On the top floor, Boss White has the back left "standard" apartment, and Lieutenant Brown has the back right semi-open apartment.

The basement contains the working part of the lair. The largest office below the lunch room belongs to Boss White. The one across from it is the guest room. The accounts/manager and board room offices are shared space. The big corner office in the upper right is the patch room. They actually don't have an exercise room in their own lair; instead they have a group membership at a nearby gym.

Shiv's dining room has a quote above the table. In his living room, the black-bordered blanket is spread over a large futon. Decorations include a photoprint of saxophonist Mark Turner, several pieces of Shiv's papercut art, houseplants, a mail sorter made from old records, and decals over the light switches. Shiv's bedroom has one of his own saxophonist pictures done with creme pastels.

Shiv's bathroom has a Frozen theme with a large Elsa decal, Elsa bath mat, Elsa bath towel, Elsa drinking glass, and assorted other snowflake accessories.


This is the Smek House in Bellevue, near Omaha. See the back door and garage. This is the back door. Shiv hated the family next door because they had a deck, a picnic table, a swimming pool, a trampoline -- and it was all fenced off, nobody else was supposed to use any of it. But they only had one child, and he didn't have any friends, so most of the time it just sat there. See the basement door with kitchen light off and with it on. Here is the basement showing the door to the root cellar which is mostly empty. This area holds the hot water heater, washer, and utility sink. See a closeup of the washer and sink.

On the first floor, this is the living room showing the front door. The staircase goes up between the door to the dining room and the door to the kitchen. Here is the kitchen. The wall opposite the appliances has the basement door. The seasonal porch faces the back yard.

The stairs go up to the second floor. There is a full bathroom upstairs. Shiv slept in the boys' bedroom. This bedroom has a door to the upstairs seasonal porch. The master bedroom also opens onto the same porch. This is the girls' bedroom. Here are the stairs to the attic. and a view inside the attic.


Scaling recipes requires multiplying or dividing the amount of ingredients. There are calculators for this purpose, but Edison and Cook are discussing how to do it on the fly. That is way over Shiv's head. Furthermore, not everything necessarily scales the same way; main ingredients usually do, but spices and other flavorings typically don't.

Enjoy recipes for Rye Gingerbread, Dried Apple Cookies, Sugar Cookies / Snickerdoodles, Cardamom Pistachio Log Cookies, and Fruitcake Cookies.

Holiday creep happens when stores put out materials for a given holiday earlier and earlier. It's most dramatic with Christmas but happens with others too. This causes a number of problems. For anyone with holiday triggers, it's downright nerve-wracking. For children or people with sequencing issues, it undermines their ability to tell when they are. Terramagne does a much better job than here when it comes to keeping holidays in sequence; many establishments have a rule about waiting for each holiday to pass before opening anything related to the next. At Blues Moon, Christmas music may not be played until December. This minimizes the tendency for people to get tired of it, which is a problem that a music venue absolutely cannot afford. Again, Terramagne does better at introducing new songs, whereas local-America sticks to old ones, but that can only compensate for so much airtime. "I Want a Robot for Christmas" debuted in 2010 and is already a favorite, but in combination with Shiv and Edison, it raises some issues.

Originally devised to explain physical disabilities, the Spoon Theory also adapts well to mental disabilities like traumatic stress that similarly drain people's energy. For Shiv, dealing with people is expensive, and holiday stress steals spoons.

(These links are intense.)
Consider the spectrum of consent and assisted decision-making for people with (temporarily or permanently) impaired consent. There are short and long resources for helping people make good decisions.

(So are these.)
Abuse survivors have an impaired sense of boundaries and thus need help managing healthy ones. Boundaries are necessary for good relationships. Understand the difference between healthy and unhealthy boundaries.

(Some of these links are difficult.)
Personal boundaries come in different types. Ideally, people understand how to set and maintain boundaries which are flexible and semi-permeable. Child abuse damages boundaries, causing many problems that can linger into adulthood. Survivors often struggle with setting appropriate boundaries. Shiv's awareness and handling of his boundaries is patchy at best. You can see Dr. G trying to talk Shiv through the necessary steps, but Shiv's ability to follow even good instructions is limited by his past damage. It's very much like this article about consent and autism: when someone's boundaries are violated routinely, they cannot learn healthy boundaries. Here's a more detailed exploration of boundaries and psychology.

(Some of these links are awful.)
Repressed memories often result from child abuse or other trauma. This can happen due to state-dependent memory, which in this case means that someone touching Shiv's body while he feels anxious would be risky. Contrariwise, another thing that brings up lost memories is feeling safe enough to deal with trauma that was too overwhelming to handle when it first happened. During Shiv's childhood, he had few if any resources for coping with all the abuse and neglect, but now he has a lot more. Know the signs of repression and how to handle it.

Shiv's body language shows discomfort, defensiveness, anxiety and sadness. A child hugging his knees and rocking is showing extreme upset. Abused children often become touch-averse, so you can't just do the instinctive thing and hug them. However, Shiv's comfort-seeking later drives him to lean on Boss White.

Emotional flashbacks are intense, wordless memories of traumatic experiences. Because they are overwhelming and yet difficult to recognize, they can rank among the worst symptoms of traumatic stress. Shiv has no idea what's really happening to him, but at least now he has a therapist who does, can explain it clearly, and knows how to talk him through it. Here are some ways of managing emotional flashbacks.

Childhood flashbacks are particularly common among abuse survivors. Because children are nonverbal or minimally verbal for the first several years of their lives, these appear prevailingly as emotional flashbacks. That contributes to the different symptoms of post-traumatic stress in children, and to the development of developmental trauma disorder. Here are some ideas on handling childhood flashbacks.

Visualization is a useful tool in personal development, pursuing goals, and therapy. Learn how to use visualization. There are text, audio, and video scripts for guided meditations. Shiv excels at this because of his visual and tactile orientation.

PTSD metaphors include the linen closet. Dr. G's use of a basement serves a similar purpose.

In this context, hyperconscious means being primarily or exclusively aware of nonphysical planes, such as supersenses or mental venues. Duoconscious means being aware of both nonphysical and physical planes. Hypoconscious means being aware only of the physical plane, shut off from the others. Ideally people can shift among different levels they can typically access, but it's possible to get locked into or out of a certain state of awareness.

For people with a traumatic past, mental issues, physical disabilities, etc. it is helpful to reconsider what "accomplishment" means. Setting small goals and celebrating partial successes can help them feel less anxious and more satisfied. Even though Shiv melts down more often now, that's because he's working through past trauma that he couldn't process before. His everyday emotional state is a lot healthier now than it used to be.

Here is a video of Shiv's memory about a man throwing a Christmas tree at the woman harassing him.

(Messy medical details below.)
A mattress stitch is the strongest type of suture, a loop of thread creating two parallel stitches tied together. They are often used to close large wounds under stress, or to anchor the ends securely with ordinary stitches in the middle.

Enjoy a recipe for Chicken Rice Soup. Shiv has a set of soup bowl mugs.
Tags: cyberfunded creativity, family skills, fantasy, fishbowl, holiday, life lessons, poetry, reading, safety, weblit, writing
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