Prompts for the Promptless: Qualia (single form, quale) is a term that refers to the individual, conscious, subjective elements of experiences. Examples of qualia are the pain of a headache, the taste of wine, or the perceived redness of an evening sky. In other words, qualia refers to “the way things seem to us”.
I’ve been procrastinating and avoiding this subject because I like to think I’m perfectly normal. Who isn’t reluctant to admit the possibility of some sort of inner weirdness. But I suppose if I never admit it, I’ll never know if there are other people out there who experience the same thing. I have made vague references to it in conversations, or given out random hints, but the reaction is always confusion and skepticism, and then we just talk about the weather.
I’ve already admitted elsewhere that I think of spider webs when I spritz my perfume. My honey yogurt soap to me smells exactly like the beach, although when I’m at the beach I never think of that particular soap. Large bodies of water make me want to stop breathing. I have to remind myself to inhale and exhale and stay calm and think about something else. My moods are associated with colors. When I’m happy I’m yellow. Green is super charged. Pink is perfectly lazy.
All of that is curious enough I suppose, but there’s something else I’ve felt several times in my life. I will tell you about one of my quale experiences, and then you can look all confused and skeptical and go check out the weather channel.
At some kind of Christmas party or dance (I don’t remember exactly what it was) many years ago, W and I were saying goodnight to my brother-in-law and his wife when I was suddenly hit by a thunder-clap of doom. There was no noise, but it was deafening. I was knocked off my feet, but I didn’t fall over. The feeling was black and overpowering, like a severe electric shock with no physical pain. It lasted only seconds and then it was gone. I hugged my brother-in-law a little too hard, and held on to him a little too long, knowing that something really bad was going to happen to him, although I couldn’t have said what that might be. I remember telling him I’d see him again because those felt like magic words to ward off some terrible disaster. He laughed and said of course we’d see each other again, we were all going to be at his parents house the next day.
I felt like crying, and sat in stunned silence on the drive home, thinking they might be involved in a car crash, or their house would burn to the ground, or they’d be abducted by aliens. I also thought that quite possibly I’d had way too much to drink and was being completely ridiculous. But I did tell W about my bad feeling, almost like a premonition, that something awful was going to happen to his brother. Then I reminded him of that a few months later when his brothers headaches had become unbearable, and he was diagnosed with a brain tumor.
Now here’s the strangest part, if that’s not strange enough for you. When we got the phone call with this sad news, I felt almost euphoric. That was the bad thing that was going to happen, but it wasn’t that bad after all. The surgery would go well, and he would be fine. I knew this. I kept saying, amidst all the worry and the sadness, he’s going to be okay. And he was, for a lot of years after that.
This was not the first or last time for me, having this bizarre experience, but I don’t think it can be called an ability when I really have no control over it. The feelings are always extreme. I don’t know where the crazy joy or the devastating sadness comes from, but when it happens I think those few seconds will kill me, but I don’t die. Or haven’t yet anyway. It has made me try to put up a sort of invisible shield around myself when I’m with people so that if they are sending out bad vibes I won’t get them. It has made me stay away from places I should have been where I might have given comfort because to me, ignorance of the bad things is equivalent to bliss. It has made me try hard not to feel anything too deeply, or get too involved, or be too empathetic. But inevitably this avoidance seems to build up to my quale, my personal internal sonic boom, the explosion that shatters me and no one sees me break.
This was all so hard to admit, because, like I said, I prefer to have people think I’m normal with normal quirks and eccentricities, with qualia that might be considered a little out to lunch but not psychotic or insane. I don’t tell anyone any more when I have the gloom and doom experience because I don’t understand where it comes from or what it might portend. It could be nothing. I always hope it’s nothing.
So what’s the weather like where you are? May your whole day be nothing but shades of pink and yellow.
For a couple of days I have been under the weather with a summer cold. Why do they always seem to be ten times worse than the colds we get in the winter? My head is full of sawdust. All day today it has been pouring rain, but that just gives me an extra excuse to stay inside and moan and sniffle and generally feel very sorry for myself. I have also been taking naps. I am embarrassed to say how many of them, so I won’t even try to calculate that. Let’s just say over 50% of my day and leave it at that.
There’s no one around right now to care how quickly and often I fall asleep, but if there were, here’s a list of nap excuses I’d use to make myself seem less of a sleepy head, or an old grandma who nods off mid conversation. Maybe I wouldn’t do that if the conversation was interesting, but I’d advise you not to place any bets on it anyway.
1. I was just resting my eyes for a minute. (My own grandma used this one a lot, and you’re right, no one believed her.)
2. I was doing some mood lifting, by bathing my brain in the neurotransmitter serotonin. What? You’ve never done that? I thought everybody did that.
3. I was meditating. It was very deep.
4. Those were my deep breathing exercises and you’ve made me lose my place. Now I’ll have to start over.
5. Recharging my batteries. They were at less than 20%.
6. Doing some horizontal rejuvenation maneuvers.
7. Practicing my person in a stupor role in case I ever have to play that part in a movie.
8. Experimenting with dream phenomenon.
9. Catching up on my adventures in slumberland research.
10. I always close my eyes when I put my brain in neutral. Too bad the same thing rarely happens with my mouth.
I suppose a nap by any other name is still a nap. Power napping is supposed to be good for you – increases your creativity and intelligence – in which case I must be verging on brilliant by now.
I’d write more, but I’m feeling the need to rest my eyes again. I was a cat in my last life. I think I may consider that option again the next time around.
…..April, June, and November. Except in 2013 when Mother Nature decided to skip the month of April altogether and put a super long extension on to the end of March instead. By my calculations it is now March 61st. We had a lovely little blizzard on Monday. I have a funny feeling March may continue to hold on for another couple of weeks. I don’t know what month it’s going to be next. Hope we don’t jump straight into October.
This is the scene that greeted us from our kitchen window on Monday morning. Where has all the green grass gone? Ah well, no point in obsessing about the weather, right? Might as well make a pretty picture and carry on.
I have good news and bad news. The good news is:
1. There’s green grass here. Really! I saw some.
2. The snow has all but disappeared where I live. All that’s left is what remains of our backyard snow mountain. And it’s looking pretty pathetic.
3. Today it rained! You might even say poured! For roughly 45 seconds. Hey, it’s a start.
4. The wind picked up and blew stuff everywhere. Sorry, I can’t remember why I think that’s good news.
5. I now have two days off in a row. Be still my heart.
The bad news is:
1. My eyes are itchy and weepy.
2. My sinuses are giving me grief and we will soon be out of kleenex if this keeps up.
3. I am trying to sneeze my face off.
4. My throat feels all scratchy.
5. Snow mold is brutal.
It seems like such a shame to have to close all the windows when the weather is finally getting nice. I go through this to some degree every spring. I look a mess for several days and then suddenly, as fast as it comes, it goes.
Allergic rhinitis – harbinger of spring. I would prefer birds, actually. But whatever heralds spring this year is fine with me – I’ll take it and be glad.
This reminds me of the suggestion to change my password to ‘incorrect‘ so that when I can’t remember it, the prompt will say ‘your password is incorrect’.
No, I don’t know why two such dissimilar things seem to me to be connected but there you go.
We spent an excellent weekend with kids and grandkids, and although I hate to say so and jinx it, the weather was BEAUTIFUL! It’s actually still beautiful today. We were sitting outside on lawn chairs beside our snow mountain watching the kids try to pummel it into submission, but it’s a pretty hard packed hill that will be around for a while yet. There was also a dog catching snowballs. Entertainment like that is hard to find.
When I got home from work today there were three messages with gorgeous artwork sitting on the pillows of my bed, and another one on top of my computer. See how well these kids know me? Those are the two places I would be certain to find stuff, that’s for sure. And my fridge is completely papered over once again with delightful works of art.
I hope everyone had a great Easter weekend and a fun April Fools Day. Think Spring.
Yesterday was a bright sunshiny day. It was also day 5 of a 6 day work week for me, and about -17 Celsius with a brisk wind. I looked outside in the morning and said EFF THIS, or words to that effect. This is March for the love of all that’s holy, not January. It wouldn’t have been so disappointing to get all this snow if we hadn’t been seeing bare roads and snowless walkways and little tiny hints of spring. Now they’ve disappeared again.
I know I should not be saying bad words, not only because they don’t sound very nice, but also because they have no power to change the weather.
I will blame being tired of working, and maybe also the fact that muttering ‘oh dearie me’ like a proper grandmother just doesn’t cut it sometimes.
So for future reference, I have strung a few Eff words together and tried them out for effect:
Efface yourself you effete efficacious effigy of effusive effluvium!
Nope, it doesn’t make any sense, but neither does the real F word in about 99% of the ways in which it gets used.
So if I can just remember to repeat that little sentence with a lot of feeling, maybe kicking something at the same time, and without having my top front teeth go through my bottom lip, somehow I think the situation will seem ever so much better. And as an extra bonus, I won’t have to be so careful about what comes out of my mouth when there are small children about.
I want to wear my effing effusively fun spring coat. Really, is that too much to ask for the middle of March for crying out loud? I promise I will be in a better mood once I’ve had a couple of effectual days off. But right now, if it’s spring where you are, I effortlessly don’t like you very much.