The Last Post

This is my last post on The Last Classic until August.

While the blog URLs have changed repeatedly, the title of the blog, and my username have remained the same. The Last Classic is my anchor. My source for comfort and advice. A place where I can tell stories, my stories.

This is the end of a giant chapter in my life. I hate change. I truly, truly hate change. But this is what I want. This Summer I turn eighteen, Heather gets married and I leave the state. I’m leaving because I want a clean slate, a fresh start.

This whole thing started for a lot of reasons, but I can’t deny it started simply because I was a kid with some time on her hands, a computer nearby and a knack for writing.

Ya’ll know how to get in touch with me – I have a Twitter, and my e-mail address is on my Gravatar profile (contact me any time!). I’ll probably comment on your blogs throughout the Summer using my other blog account, so just look out for Hannah-Elizabeth, instead of Classic. My other blog, unlike The Last Classic, is not going to be a secret from my family, so I won’t be writing as freely as I do here. I will be posting and continuing the People Who Read People series on the other blog. As soon as some recent personal difficulties have cleared up, I’ll start posting on the new blog and tell ya’ll the URL.

I’m sad. Today I’ve reached the point of no return. I hate change – have I told you that? I hate knowing how soon I’ll have to say goodbye. And I’m afraid of how scared I’ll be to leave everything behind on my own. It’s one thing when it’s all just an idea, just a notion, just a pleasant thought to escape to on difficult days. But when it’s real, when there is no turning back, it’s easy to just wake up in the middle of the night from a nightmare, and just keep looking around my room at familiar things. Over and over and over. I know that wall. I arranged the books on that shelf. I stared out of those windows for hours during the last heavy storm. And I begin thinking about how one day I’ll wake up, and I can’t look around at familiar things. I can never again wake up to the sound of my alarm and tell myself I need to get ready for church, because Heather will drive up soon to take us there. I can’t be annoyed at the sound of my brother playing his guitar at two in the morning. I will be alone, but I have no regrets.

Until August,

–Hannah-Elizabeth/Classic

Changes & Going Places

Just a quick note before this post begins. Longtime readers will notice several changes in the blog during the next week or so. I am going to be marking the “Chapters” of my posts. I’ve noticed I write in the exact same pattern for every post, and I have felt that my posts the past few months have been lacking in images and overall zest, so I figure ‘why not?’ Also, I may be changing the background, header and the way my posts are set up… In other words: change is coming, roll with it.

~Hannah-Elizabeth

We took turns taking bites of the world’s greatest quiche at The Cafe, breaking into personal and casual chats in between bites and sips of coffee.

Myself and a dear friend from my Kohl’s days (previously mentioned on my blog) by the name of Cali were in Downtown Keller for a few hours of antiquing. Cali Madame is one of those young ladies who can wear not a spot of make-up and still look beautiful. Her hair was braided on the side in a classic Cali style, and she wore a classic unusual-but-extremely-stylish outfit. In an odd way, I felt like being around her made everything simple and normal, in comparison to the rather hectic and stressful day-to-day routine I’ve fallen into. There was nothing to worry about or ruin a peaceful moment – there was just Cali, Keller and the kind folks of the stores surrounding us. Simple.

It reminded me how much I crave being around people who make things simple. No underlying dramatics or unresolved conflicts, just being present in the moment as it occurs.

Something I’ve noticed about Cali Madame’s presence, too, is that the simplicity of the conversation and her endlessly kind words and demeanor make her into sort of an instant, free-of-charge therapist. As if everything you say is safe and won’t be judged. Especially since Madame doesn’t build an emotional wall around herself and shares personal information, too. As a result, I found myself repeatedly opening up to her about the most personal moments and facts of my life. My struggles with my mother, my eating disorder, the whole Josh mess, my feelings of lack of support, ect., and, remarkably, she took it all in stride. Even when I ended up crying nearly bawling in her car, she immediately said, “Hey, you’re allowed to cry here. I have tissues in my purse if you need ’em.”

But, I’ve skipped quite a bit of yesterday’s story.

After the cafe we went to my favorite antique store in the potential multiverse, that I’ve mentioned millions of times in this blog. That’s right, say it with me: Whistle Stop Antique Mall. Madame bought a cute little white elephant key chain charm and oversized pink bow. After Whistle Stop we went to The Pecan, and then to a baseball game where I met a lovely human being by the name of Erin. Because of Madame’s persistence, I was talked into borrowing a pair of her shorts (I was wearing a red dress with lace tights and high heels with a grey cardigan) and changing into a brown blouse I had purchased at The Pecan. I’m convinced if I hadn’t changed I would have ended up dying of heat stroke, or worse – I would have ruined the dress and my shoes. It was my first time being at a ballgame in over eight years, and several times I actually reviewed my emotions to see if they matched up with what psychologists claim folks typically feel in the middle of a crowd at a ballgame – they didn’t, but I suppose the fact that I had no idea what was going on and the only emotional bias I had for a certain team was due to the fact that Madame’s boyfriend was in it (his parents were sitting behind us – very friendly, kind folks), so I suppose I’ll just have to learn more about sports and try again sometime. Or otherwise try to hush my inner psychologist more often.

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After going to church this morning with Heather Madame, we went to Chili’s for a couple of hours of coffee and french fries. The place didn’t seem very busy for a Sunday afternoon so having a conversation wasn’t the challenge I had feared it would be. It was business as usual – equal parts what’s new with her and with me. We’ve gotten into a rather comfy weekly routine. Church, coffee, lingering at the park, Starbucks or a restaurant for an hour or so, and filling the time with talking about her wedding plans and my college plans. Mainly, how on earth I’m going to get to the college I’m going to (still top-secret for ya’ll, I’m planning to drop hints soon). As the scheduling figures at this point in time, I’ll have to leave right after her wedding to…well, that’s where it gets tricky. There’s the Amtrak, which is expensive. A plane, which is expensive. Or driving, extremely expensive. Not to mention the challenge of shipping my items to myself. It has been settled that about 90 percent of any money I make over the Summer is going into my savings account for the sole purpose of getting me from point A to point B.

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Now, let’s go on to the part where I tell you what I’ve figured out. I’ve noticed it has actually been a while since I’ve written in a post something that has completely changed my perspective.

While I was speaking to Cali, during the pleasant brunch at The Cafe, nibbling on scones and sipping on coffee, and while I was sitting in Madame’s car, crying and trying to explain myself in brief spurts of coherency, I discovered several things about myself that Cali Madame opened my eyes to.

  • There are some things (and people) that I haven’t moved on from. I’ve just mentally swept them under the rug and assumed that means they don’t exist. When truly, how could that sort of Descartes-esque justification of ignorance do me any good?
  • Just like when I lived in the mobile home and I used bulimia as an anchor when things felt out of control, I use vanity and false confidence to control how I look so I’ll feel like I still have something to hold onto in the face of lifeless support and extreme discouragement from the people I’ve come to rely on the most, instead of turning to God in the face of the discouragement.
  • I handle things that disturb and emotionally harm me by ignoring them or turning my back to them. And respond to negativity by shutting people out.
  • It is, indeed, possible to get a good picture of me outside (as long as Cali is the one holding the camera and telling me how to pose).

I’ve never mentioned this on my blog before, but every time I feel any amount of stress or sense any tension or negativity, even if I’m not going anywhere, I’ll spend a couple of hours doing my hair and make-up and dressing up. The feeling would just come over me to look pretty when things got ugly. I can’t believe I didn’t make the connection until yesterday.

So, just like with anything, now I must take it one day at a time and attempt to ‘rewire’ the way I think about myself and how I handle stress.

I heard once that it is impossible for a psychologist to heal themselves of mental malady, just like a doctor shouldn’t first attempt to diagnose their own illness. In a way I’ve come to think that my knowledge of human behavior would have torn down some of the one-way glass that is my perception of myself. That maybe knowing what makes people tick would help me to stop a bad habit in its tracks before it was too late. But it takes outside input to get the full view of anything. We’re all looking at the same box, just from different angles.

All of that to say, I may shut down The Last Classic for the Summer.

I would bring it back in August, in time to document Heather’s wedding and the trip to- well, you’ll find out. And I’ll just use the two other blogs I keep open in times of boredom, work on new readers and subscribers before returning to this one.

I suppose we shall see. But I will certainly inform all of you before I vanish.

Until I Write Again,

–Hannah-Elizabeth/Classic

The Eyes Have It

Post Four In A Six-Month Series On People Reading

I’ll save you the typical rundown of clichés about the meaning of the eyes, and instead jump into some simple, to-the-point tells that can be found in and around the eyes.

The Pupils

Dilated pupils mean one of two things: pleasure or stress.

Pleasure as in something the subject enjoys looking at (experiments have shown women’s pupils dilate the most when looking at pictures of a mother and child) such as someone they hold affection for, an object they admire such as a painting or something of value. Pretty much strong positive emotions = dilated pupils and an easily read facial expression. Your pupils will also dilate when you’re on drugs and experiencing a ‘good trip’.

Stress can mean hatred towards someone, or simply stress from a situation. It’s obviously very easy to distinguish why someone’s pupils are dilated. You’ll never find yourself looking at someone with dilated pupils and thinking, “Hm, I can’t tell if they like me or want to strangle me…”

Though someone may have a false smile and dilated pupils, in which case figuring out if the smile is fake will not be challenge, as I will show you below:

It’s All In The Orbits

In medicine and body language alike, the area around the eye is referred to as the orbit, or, if you’re referring to both eyes, the orbits. The muscle that controls facial expressions of emotion around the eye is called the orbicularis oculi (I’ve heard it pronounced every which way, but the most common is simply ‘or-bick-you-lare-is oke-you-lie’).

Orbicularis oculi seen around the eye. Directly above it you see the muscle that covers the forehead, known as the frontalis.

When a smile is genuine, the lower outer corners of the eyes raise, sometimes causing tiny lines around the eyes.

Genuine and false smile shown by the master himself: Paul Ekman.

In case you’re wondering – no, you cannot make the orbit muscles imitate a genuine smile, you’ll see too much action around the nose and it’ll be downright obvious to any observer who knows where to look.

Remember: some facial muscles cannot be sufficiently activated unless they are expressing genuine emotion.

Therefore, you can temporarily display ‘smiling eyes’ by thinking of something that makes you happy, but only momentarily, because you can only hold onto the happiness from a memory for so long before you must endure the present reality and the muscles have no choice but to tell the truth.

Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP)

Countless times I’ve seen on television shows, in blogs, in books and in magazines a common gargantuan lie. A lie about the eyes and how they reveal deceit. In a nutshell, the notion goes that if someone looks down and to the left while they’re speaking, they are fabricating their story and therefore lying.

Noooooooooooooooo!

But, there is a factor of truth in this – you can get an inkling of where someone’s thoughts are as they speak by noting eye movements, but it will never never never never be as simple as ‘Down + left = lie’. This inkling of truth comes from a concept known as neurolinguistic programming, or NLP. NLP is really much more than a guide to eye tells, but for this post, we’ll only be looking at NLP’s explanation for eye movements.

The basics of NLP go like this:

Someone remembers something they saw: eyes go up.

Someone remembers something they heard: eyes go to the side.

Someone remembers an emotion: eyes go down and to the right.

Someone is talking to themselves: down and to the left.

The problem: while we are speaking, our mind is bouncing all over the place, retrieving information, organizing thoughts, planning on what vocal inflections and volumes to use to get our point across. When we talk, our eyes will bounce around no matter what. So while NLP may be accurate and useful, remember that these signals come in clusters and happen in a fraction of a second. I can tell you from personal experience that after three years of attempting to master these signals, you just have to focus and eventually develop an intuition for it. You may not catch a lot of the signals (they are extremely difficult to catch as they’re happening, more difficult than micro-expressions), but eventually your subconscious will start looking out for them for you and you’ll find you get a lot more ‘gut feelings’ about people and what they say.

But! A note about lying and eye contact:

Despite popular belief, people who are lying will maintain eye contact longer than someone who is telling the truth. Like I said, someone who is talking will have a million things happening at once, one of these things is information retrieval, while a liar will be watching your reaction and will not require certain cognitive functions that a person telling the truth will be using.

Also, a fun trick that I use when I’m addressing a group of people or trying to hold someone’s attention while I explain something (and Heather, if you read this, I wasn’t manipulating you – just attempting to anchor your admirable, occasionally cocker-spaniel-esque attention span…you know I love you!), is using a pen, stick, pointer or any like object when explaining an idea (only when a visual aid of some sort is nearby, like a map, article, object ect.,). It goes simply like this – when explaining an idea, using the pointer to, well, point to the article, and when explaining an important part, bringing the pen up to near eye level, which automatically causes the other person to give you direct eye contact. It works every time, and no one can deny the first few times are extremely fun and amusing and sort of make you feel like the Mentalist. (I learned this trick from books by Bernard Asbell and Allan Pease.)

The Mentalist.
Must…steal…suit…and hair product…

Blinking

The average relaxed blinking rate is 6-8 blinks per minute. When we’re under pressure, feel stress and anger, or otherwise a sudden burst of emotion, our blink rate will increase dramatically.

Darting Eyes

As I mentioned in my post about Harold Camping’s body language during an interview directly after the passing of one of his latest dooms dates, eyes darting from side to side can indicate someone looking for an escape route. I’ve had this happen to me on several occasions, and understanding what the signal meant let me know it was time to wrap up the conversation, lest the image they have of me in their mind become slightly negative and unpleasant.

Gazing

Social Gazing:

Experiments have shown that this area is the area most commonly focused on for 90 percent of the time during social encounters. Some researchers believe this is because we feel that not looking directly into someone’s eyes will make us appear nonthreatening.

Power Gazing:

This gaze is often used in power plays among businessmen – sort of a tool of intimidation. The effect of this gaze, according to Allan Pease, “…has to be experienced to be believed.” It creates a serious atmosphere, and if used unwaveringly, can make the subject feel very uncomfortable.

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Like anything in body language, in order to really be able to get accurate reads, you need to:

1. Not read too much into signals.

and 2. Practice, practice, practice. Eventually you’ll develop a reliable ‘spidey sense’.

And, apologies for not giving you much to think about for this one. As I said last time – I promise the next post will be better!

Until I Write Again,

–Hannah-Elizabeth/Classic