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City Neighborhood Maps: a new side project

Last year, when some of my friends moved to New York City, a universal concern was learning city geography. In particular, the question of “what neighborhood is this?” came up frequently.  I started creating a map of NYC with neighborhood boundaries drawn on to help them learn (and also to learn them myself).

The initial intention was to fill in Manhattan, Brooklyn, the south Bronx, and near Queens. Eventually I got so into the process that I filled the entire city in.  I figure there are probably other people out there like myself and my friends who would be interested to see the map, and possibly some people who could offer corrections or additions (please send these types of messages here).

Since finishing the neighborhood outlines NYC map, I have started work on a few others with still more on my ‘hopeful’ list.  I also hope to eventually add small blurbs and even photos to each neighborhood.  I’ve started a separate site to keep track of my intermitent progress on all these maps, Cities by Neighborhood.

To see my NYC map, click here.

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Marriage Equality, Pride, & Refusing to Be Invisible

NYC Pride as seen looking east on 5th Ave, between 12th and 13th St.

A few weekends ago, a couple friends and I went to the NYC Pride Parade.  It had been ten years since I had been to an LGBT event.  I’m not afraid of being out, nor am I suffering from internalized homophobia, but I do get exhausted by the internal politics of gay culture, and for awhile it was less uplifting and more frustrating to participate.

This year we had more than our usual annual pride.  We saw an undeniably historic SCOTUS decision.  I remember well when gay marriage was legalized in my home state of Massachusetts — I was 12 years old, had recently come out (or rather, been outed), and I ended up writing a paper for my English class on the issue.  At the time of writing said paper, I saw the issue, and the community, as fairly black and white.  Gay people and straight allies were categorically good — it was the kind of immature and dichotomous thinking that is characteristic of young teenagers (and that we see so often in Tumblr-brand slacktivism).  Later that same school year I attended my first pride parade in Northampton.  And it was one of the most depressing days of my young life.  The participants were all very homogenous: butch-adjacent lesbian couples in hiking mandals with young children.  The parade was for gay marriage and gay adoption rights.  It was — and there’s really no other word for it — conservative.

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Technology & Couture Meet at Paris Fashion Week

A week ago, Fashion Week was in full swing in Paris.  Fashion Week, whether in Paris, Milan, London, or New York, has always been known for a display of cutting edge notions of what beauty can look like.  Those who follow both Fashion Week and Apple’s releases might remember last year’s London Fashion Week, where the iPhone 5S’s slow motion video capability was debuted with an Instagram video of a Burberry runway show (video here).

Still from Burberry's iPhone 5S slow motion video of their Spring/Summer 2014 runway show at London Fashion Week.
Still from @burberry‘s iPhone 5S slow motion video of their Spring/Summer 2014 runway show at London Fashion Week.

Apple has been working to be seen as “fashionable tech” arguably since the clamshell iBook from fifteen years ago, which featured bright colors and rounded corners — a significant departure from the existing design of laptops.  As mobile phones became common place, so did phone cases and charms.  A fashionable person’s cell phone was not complete without a shiny cover or sparkly charm.  In the 90s, merely having a cell phone was a status symbol, but by the time Motorola introduced the RAZR, it was clear that the kind of cell phone you had was as important as simply owning one.  And this trend has skyrocketed since the invention of the Smart Phone.

As technology seeps deeper and deeper into our every day lives, it makes perfect sense that it becomes a part of our fashion aesthetic.  We carry our Smart Phones with us everywhere, and for many of us, they are constantly in our hand.  It functions in many ways like a clutch purse, but it is not limited to a feminine look and is far more likely to appear in a professional setting.

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Here on my own blog, I write primarily about my favorite topics:

I am interested in the intersection of aesthetic design, human communication, and innovative technology.  I try to define this intersection through my hobbies.  The name of this blog “Our Lady of Self Integration” pokes fun at the wide range of my interests and how I integrate all these parts of myself into one life.

Massive Eyeliner Collection Review

Full list with links and prices at bottom of page.

Pencils are arguably the oldest and most common form of eyeliner.  It’s possible to find cream and gel formulas in pencil form, and are usually in a twist up container or a traditional pencil that needs sharpening.  Pencils provide a familiar tool and if the formula is smooth, the liner should glide on easily.  Pencil liner can be applied to the top and bottom lids, the lashline, and the waterline.  Because pencils are a familiar tool and can be applied anywhere, they tend to be best for beginners.  The only con I can think to mention is when it comes to precision.  Even a twist up pencil needs to be sharpened to stay precise, and sharpening pencils means you lose some of the product.  Even when sharpened, their precision does have a limit.  Some products are so creamy they can slide on oily skin, but I find that gel pencils don’t have this same problem for me.

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Habits of Self Abandonment

30 Rock: Season 3, Episode 10. “Generalissimo” Tracy Jordan accidentally roofies himself.

Healing from abuse is in many ways a grieving process.  There is grief for the loss of time, sense of safety, sureness of self, and trust in the abusive person.  Especially if the abuser is a parent or significant other who should have been trustworthy, there can be a lot of grief for what the person should have been.

When it comes to an abusive parent, such as a narcissistic one, some come to the conclusion that the abusive parent was never really a parent.  The grief then is less for the behavior of the abusive parent, but for the realization that the parent was never a real caretaker.  There is a growing internet forum on Reddit specifically aimed at children of narcissistic parents called /r/raisedbynarcissists, I mention it here because the forum’s name plays on the expression to be “raised by wolves” which seems an accurate comparison to me.  To be raised by an abusive parent (or parents) is in many ways to be abandoned by the people who are supposed to be a guaranteed support system.

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L’oreal Infallible Eyeshadow, Neutrogena Healthy Volume Mascara: Review + Look

I recently made an order from Drugstore.com to get birthday gifts for my good friend Lizzie Lee, and to tip my order into the free shipping zone I bought two small things for myself.  Lizzie has been recommending Neutrogena’s Healthy Volume Black/Brown Mascara to me for a while so I picked up the waterproof version (my eyes run like a faucet when I get tired).  I had read many good things about L’oreal’s Infallible 24 Hour Eyeshadow and I am always interested to try new textures so I couldn’t resist buying one for myself as well as one as a gift.  This post is a quick look and review from using the mascara and eyeshadow a few times.

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Narcissists & Vampires

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 2, Episode 11. “Ted” Buffy is right, vampires are creeps.

Using the metaphor of an emotional vampire to describe some manifestations of personality disorders is not a new concept.  I think the comparison makes for an interesting discussion, but I am not trying to paint with a broad brush and say that all people with personality disorders are vampires.  Instead, I will write about the abusive behaviors attributed to personality disorder traits that some individuals display and light-heartedly discuss the similarity to vampire mythology (not sparkly vampire mythology, Buffy vampire mythology).

Both vampires and narcissists come from dark beginnings.  Vampires are born when their human self is murdered and narcissists are born through childhood abuse.  The human the vampire was becomes trapped beneath the demon that takes over their body, just like the real personality of an extreme narcissist is trapped under the personality disorder that has taken over their thoughts and behavior.

Like many descriptions of vampires, some narcissists are very charming and seductive at first.  Classic vampire characters like Dracula are often described as having powers of mind control, convincing their victims to do things they normally would not want to or altering their memories and perceptions.  Thankfully narcissists are not as cool as Dracula, and while their gaslighting and lying can be painful, they do not have superpowers.  Vampires famously thrive on sucking blood from humans, while narcissists thrive on their narcissistic supply, sucking the energy out of those around them.  Here I do not mean energy in a spiritual sense, but a very literal sense.  It is exhausting to deal with an emotionally abusive person, and narcissists can be exceptionally draining.

While vampires seek to kill their victims, abusive narcissists will settle for killing their spirits.  As I mentioned in my post on Complex PTSD, the helplessness and hopelessness that comes with enduring long-term emotional abuse is often described as a “death-like” feeling.  Some victims of vampires are merely killed, but others are transformed into vampires themselves, similar to how narcissistic abuse can create new narcissists.  A vampire forces the human to feed off their own demon-contaminated blood and usually chooses to make a new vampire for their own agenda.  Narcissists do not create new narcissists quite so consciously, but it is necessary for the narcissist’s venomous behavior to be absorbed by the victim to turn the victim into a narcissist, much like a human must consume a vampire’s tainted blood to be changed.  Narcissists, like vampires, try use the monsters they create for their own gain.

For a narcissistic parent, the victim most likely to be transformed into a narcissist themselves is their golden child.  Though not all golden children fall into the habit of behaving like their parents, many are not only allowed, but encouraged, to be narcissistic.  On the other hand, the victim most likely to be pushed to the “death-like” sense of helplessness and hopelessness is the scapegoat child.  Some professionals I’ve talked to have even described the way scapegoat children are treated as the abusive parent attempting to psychologically kill the scapegoat — destroying the person they see themselves as and replacing it with a false narrative of failure.  The narcissist views all their children as extensions of themselves, and just like vampires who kill all their victims regardless of turning them into vampires themselves, being a golden child or a scapegoat to a narcissistic parent can result in the same feeling of a “death of self” in place of the identity created by the narcissist.  But unlike vampire victims, emotional abuse victims can break away from their narcissistic abusers and find their actual self.

In Buffy’s world, people lose their soul when they become vampires, which is what allows them to feel no guilt for their actions.  Many vampires take great pleasure in the violent acts they commit.  Narcissists are often described as people with “a hole in their soul” and by definition lack empathy, unable to see their behavior as harmful.  Narcissists consistently seem to find glee in the pain of others.  A classic example of this that I have experienced is parents that will outright laugh at a child for crying or feeling other reasonable emotions, which serves to teach the child that their feelings are a joke to you and less important that others’ feelings.

While most vampires in the Buffyverse are soulless, the phenomenon of a “vampire with a soul” comes up exactly twice.  Once the soul has been returned to a vampire, they begin to feel guilt for all of their previous evil behavior.  Like vampires, narcissists rarely feel guilt for their actions, and while it is possible for a select few narcissists to become self-aware and feel guilt, it is very rare.  Narcissism is a disorder based on the belief that the narcissist is without fault and the narcissist will go to any lengths to protect this image.  By definition narcissists are unable to be honestly self-critical.

How vampires and narcissists come to their lack of guilt and empathy is quite different.  Vampires feel no guilt for their evil behavior because they just simply don’t care.  The complete disconnect from others is more similar to sociopathic behavior than narcissistic.  Sociopaths understand that others see things as right and wrong but do not care if their actions are wrong.  Narcissists also know right from wrong, but care deeply about other’s impressions of them, and will go to extreme lengths to repress their wrongdoing.  A sociopath cheating on a partner might openly admit to it and brush it off as “their partner’s problem” while a narcissist cheating on a partner might deny it to the point of gaslighting their partner and even themselves.

Perhaps the most helpful concept I have found in the comparison of vampires and narcissists is the extent to which narcissists rely on their narcissistic supply.  Keeping up the facade of perfection and repressing their bad behavior requires a lot of psychological effort on the part of the narcissist.  The more people they can rope into this delusion to enable their distorted reasoning, the easier it becomes to maintain their image.  While there’s no part in the vampire/narcissist metaphor for enablers, they are a key component to emotional abuse, and something I will definitely be writing about.

Apparently it’s a week for vampy posts here at Cognitive Caribou, as this discussion of emotional vampires falls in the same week with my photos of black lipstick.  I wanted to keep this post short and sweet, since taking this metaphor too far gets weird fast.  My plans for upcoming posts related to emotional abuse include an overview of some fMRI studies on both personality disorders and PTSD, more in my series about “Things Dysfunctional Parents Don’t Teach US”, and as mentioned above, some discussion of abuse enablers.  If you’re reading this and have thoughts on or stories about narcissistic vampire types, please don’t hesitate to comment and add your view!

Wet n Wild Eyeshadow, Eyeliner, Bronzer + Fergie Collection Products Review

wet n wild products

Wet n Wild is a brand I have walked by in drug stores for years, but in my current area the selection is limitted so I had only picked up a couple products.  After spending some time on their website and acquainting myself with their awesome moto (All Access Beauty – a concept I love for a brand that sells such affordable and quality makeup) I decided I needed to give the products a try and placed an order.

Take on the Day Primer from Fergie Center Stage Collection [For my Primas]

For a $5 primer, this stuff is amazing.  I prefer it to the $7 Milani Eyeshadow Primer, which is both more runny and more yellow.  Wet n Wild’s Fergie Colleciton primer is a lighter neutral color.  As compared to the infamous Urban Decay Primer Potion, I think it is less tacky.  On days where I am lazy about my skin care routine, and thus have oilier lids, I find the Wet n Wild Primer doesn’t do as well, so for those with very oily lids it may not be a good choice.

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Weather Integrated into Wallpaper: A GeekTool Widget for Mac OS

geektoolweather

You will need:

GeekTool is an application available for Mac OS that allows the user to create widgets embedded in their desktop.  These widgets commonly display time, date, to do lists, weather information, and images.  I’ve played with GeekTool on and off over the years — sometimes using it for practical reasons, like an easily visible record of uptime on older machines, and sometimes for frivolous ones, like the GeekTool I’m going to share with you today.

While displaying weather widgets with images is a common GeekTool, I have yet to see one integrated into a desktop image, so I decided to give it a try.  To accomplish this, you’ll needed to use two GeekTools, one image and one shell.  I used two small scripts, one written in bash and the other a line in python, but you could easily write all of this in one script, splitting it up was just faster for me in the moment.

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