Yesterday morning I had to stay home for nearly two hours past normal time in order to ensure that Thing 2 got to school, to which he refused to go. This is a culmination of a protracted struggle that has worn his mother completely out and frayed me by making home a constant battleground. He's perpetually late, and uncooperative. He's in trouble with and at school so much that I jump every time the phone goes off. Pygment fields the majority of these calls so I'm often getting forwarded emails with the latest disaster story. He hasn't hurt himself or anyone else (recently) but the aggressive, confrontational, and hostile behaviors are a constant drain of emotional energy. I did blow up at him during the morning struggle, after keeping my cool for two-plus hours. I've been trying not to blow up and sometimes I succeed. Sometimes not.
I also blew up at his brother Sunday when he decided to correct me, loudly, in front of a house full of guests. For the same thing that we've discussed four times in the past. Yeah, not so much. Sunday was also D&D, which I GMed with some ability despite how bad off I was. I had energy in 2-3 hour spurts and kind of sagged in between. Also I ate too much sugar OHAIHALLOWEENCANDY.
Saturday was a surprisingly bad day for me. I woke up so completely drained I thought I might not have slept or might be getting the crud. I just could not function, and particularly could not face going back to MIT no matter how much I wanted to. The amount of effort it would have taken to move the kids and myself and drive and park just seemed overwhelming. I was actually having muscle tremors from a combination of fatigue and anxiety, plus dizziness that seemed to be a really good sign I should not get behind the wheel.
Pygment was all the love and support EVAR and helped me understand that maybe I had just overdone myself and since I had game the next day maybe it was OK just to stay at home and cancel even the tentative plans we had wanted to try that night. I did manage to get some energy back by night, and we got Thing 2 out to TorT with friends. Thing 1 was a lumpenteen and stayed home. I think his basic antisocial nature is coming back to bite him and he's unwilling to admit it.
Friday was the MIT Media Lab's 30th anniversary. I live-tweeted it, which led me to find some of my old ML friends on twitter and to an encounter with whacky climate-change deniers. Apparently they have alerts so if you use that phrase in your tweets they see it and start trying to debate (or insult or troll) you. Mute and block were used liberally for a while there. If you're not on my twitter stream and want to be, drop a note.
The event itself was fun. I saw lots of people I hadn't seen in 5 or 10 years and did the kind of reminiscing one does at these things. The event was HUGE. Each five years there are that many more people who've passed through the school and who come back. I did not see some folk I'd hoped would be there but I did catch up with lots of people and met a few new ones. I am unabashedly proud of my alma mater in many ways, and the people are a big part of that. The program was (justifiably) critiqued for being ridiculously top-heavy with old white men. But if you're going to review the early days of the Lab (or even today) then you're staring that problem right in the face. The morning program featured an aging Marvin Minsky and a number of famous old geek names.
The afternoon program managed to take some serious moves toward addressing some of these issues, including a passionate appeal from Megan Smith to bring everyone into our meritocracy, and some remarkably optimistic remarks from Kofi Annan (who I had forgotten was also an MIT alum). Then Nicholas Negroponte took the stage and opened his remarks by talking about his own privilege - I nearly broke my jaw bouncing it off the floor.
I also got to meet Neri Oxman, whose recent TED talk blew me away and I managed not to fanboi at her TOO hard, I think. She continues the Lab tradition of finding scary-smart people and setting them loose. I was also impressed by just how nice a person she was and the fact that she also continues the Lab tradition of taking seriously remarks people will make just coming up to you to talk about your work. Props also to Nicholas who has about a million times more experience at these things than I do but still gives me a fair listen. The entire event was steeped in the intense intellectual atmosphere that I miss the most from my Lab days.
It was a long day - I got up and out and down to Alewife for something like an 8AM train and then stayed at the event until nearly 10. Apparently that was more spoon-consuming than I'd expected. I felt somewhat physically tired during the evening reception but I didn't anticipate the degree to which I would be completely wiped out the next day.
Some of my wipeout may have come from the social energy I expended earlier in the week. Thursday I had a lovely dinner (second) date with a new person. About whom I am reluctant to say much right now except that they are very much Not One Of Us. When I found silentq on OKC I knew pretty immediately she was One Of Us - coder by day, punk/goth by night, serious cyclist. We had an immediate foundation of shared vocabulary and even some friends in common. The new person is not at all one of the geeks. But there may be enough mutual interest to keep things going - we shall see. But being "ON" for a date for several hours tends to be draining as well as energizing for me, so that was a net use of spoons.
The night before that (last Wednesday) I was also out being social - haircut refresh at DHR and then dinner that turned out to be dinner-in with mizarchivist and family. The kid is still super-cute and the spouse is great but a dinner at someone's house resonates in my brain differently from a 1:1 dinner out. Just how I'm wired I guess.
The next time I schedule myself three social activities in a row I think I'm going to make sure (a) one of them isn't an all-day thing and (b) I don't pretend I'm actually going to have ANY social left on Days 4 or 5.