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The Scientist in Me Needed to Make a Graph….

My lack of blogs has severely affected my writing skills. In fact, I feel that they have already deteriorated and I am remorseful about the fact that I haven’t written. I have created a simple line graph to illustrate the phenomenon of my reduced compositional output: 

 

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Fig.1. Although the scales are completely bogus, it is clear to see that as the amount of bloggable material occurring increases, the time available to blog about the bloggable material decreases. Conversely, when the amount of bloggable material is small, the time in which to blog about it increases. 

 

 

 

 

 

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My nose remembers more than my eyes, but my eyes can create meaning from my world

Photo on 13-01-14 at 6.13 PM

Of the five senses, smell evokes the most distant and the most vivid memories. The olfactory bulb in the brain is very close to the hippocampus and the amygdala, which are associated with memory-forming and emotions respectively. Strong links are often forged between memories, emotions and scents. In Dementia patients, it has been documented that certain smells can trigger accurate memories of childhood.

Being here in this house is both familiar and alien. It is not my house and it will never be my home. I created many memories here, but no memories of me have lasted.

This house has sections that smell the same, and my brain remembers how I used to feel and the things that I used to do, but the differences in the scents are also striking. The people who live here have changed in my two-year absence, as have I, and many things about the house are new to me. New perfumes, deodorants and colognes. New cleaning chemicals and regimes. An ageing dog. The layout has changed. The routines have changed. The office that used to be a bedroom smells like an office, and it feels different. The people have different routines now and they use different chemicals and undertake different activities. They wear different clothes. Everybody’s smell has changed. One fewer person living here. Six ageing people, including me. This house smells different, so I feel different.

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Smell can tell me about the similarities and differences between this house and the image of this house that exists in my memory. My eyes capture the light that is refracted and reflected from the objects and the people in the house. They transmit the light to my brain so that I can read faces. I can read photographs. I can read furnishings and decorations. I remember some of the decor and some of it is new to me. I see some items and I remember the long-standing arguments and drawn-out decision-making attached to them. I see photographs and I remember looking at the people in them on the night that they were taken, but I cannot remember what I looked like on those nights and I cannot remember how I felt. I know that if I stumbled across the perfume I wore then, I would remember more about myself and less about others. I look for things in this house that were brought by me, and owned by me, but there are none. They are gone because I took them away two years ago. When I smell a remembered scent, it gives me pictures, colours and emotions. My eyes take information and create meaning in the form of an internal dialogue. This house is telling me that it is not my house and it is not my home because it looks different, so I feel different.

I take in the subtle cues from my environment through olfaction and vision. Although vision is the strongest sense in humans, others would be different to me, I am sure. Perhaps they would listen carefully to their world and remember sounds and voices. Maybe they would remember the contours and textures of fabrics and the shape of other people through touch. Eating certain foods or ingredients might remind them strongly of places they’ve travelled or people they have eaten with. I suffer slightly from industrial deafness and I’m not a tactile person, so most of those memory jolts and eerie feelings come to me when I smell something or see something. I actively look to make links from these senses as my way of interpreting and remembering my world.

I have always found it particularly interesting that a scent-triggered memory can elicit direct emotions from me, but that a vision-triggered memory is dialogue with no pictures.

Being here in this house is both familiar and alien. I have aged. It is not my house and it will never be my home. I created many memories here, but no memories of me have lasted. We look different, and we smell different, so I feel different. This house and I, we are not the same as we once were. 

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How do YOU medicate?

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Everyone has had a fat teacher before. In fact, it is rather rare to get a skinny one, and the skinny ones you do find are either health nuts, or they haven’t been teaching very long. I remember being a  prac student and looking at how unhealthy the majority of teachers were. I must admit to commenting that there must be a positive correlation between years spent teaching and weight in kilograms. Even the leaner teachers I observed looked overtired and sick. I remember being embarrassed for them and wondering why they didn’t bother to look after themselves as adults. 

Now I know why.

STRESS

Teaching is very very stressful, and non-teachers sometimes struggle to understand how it can be. Teaching is emotionally draining, the deadlines for creating and marking work and writing reports are continual and at the end of the day, even driving requires more brainpower than you wish to expend. Additionally, your popularity is important. Parents, students and other staff members must perceive you as reliable, competent, knowledgeable,  reasonable, fair and consistent. I possess none of these attributes when conversing with people I consider to be deliberately ignorant, and unfortunately it is not only  students who fit into this category. 

I know there are healthy ways to burn off this stress, and in fact I usually do find healthy, helpful ways to release stress and invigorate myself for the following day. Exercise is the easiest and most effective stress-reliever and it also lifts my mood a great deal. Taking some ‘me’ time to go indoor rock climbing with friends or to attend a yoga class once a week can keep me happy throughout dealings with the the most belligerent of work refusers.

 

Here’s the catch: exercise DOES take time, and time is in short supply. So when I can’t manage to squeeze anything else into an overloaded schedule, I turn to many unhealthy and addictive substances and pastimes.

1. Coffee

2. Chocolate

3. Tea

4. Chips

5. TV

6. Shopping

 

Keeping a blog is my new attempt at stress-relief that will not directly make me fat and poor. Again, it’s time-consuming work, but my current goal is more: 

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and less: 

 

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How do YOU medicate?