22 December 2011

on saying goodbye

The following is my final blog post for my Off-Campus Study blog. I'm kind of using it as a coping mechanism for now, at least until I can figure out how else to express myself. Being home is so weird.

The task of writing this final post has been looming over me for the past week, but the guilt that I have generated from not doing it has far surpassed my unwillingness to begin, so here I am. At 2 in the morning.

The thing is, it still doesn’t feel real. And by it, I mean both my experience in Stockholm and attempting to resume my life at home. I still can’t fully process just how lucky I am to have lived in such an incredible city. However trite it may sound, Stockholm will forever hold a little piece of my heart. Cheesy and simple, I know, but the truth isn’t always groundbreaking and dramatic. It can be found in the little things, like walking through Gamla Stan’s Julmarknad on Sankta Lucia, glögg in gloved hand. Or laughing as the Swedish children on the Tunnelbana demand that their mothers pay attention as they pull faces and struggle to stay standing. Or even sitting in a Swedish apartment, reading by candlelight.

It’s funny to look back at the beginning of last semester and think about where I stood. Coming in, I was reminded of former experiences I had had as a child, going to sleepaway camp or something similar. I thought that I would be forever changed upon coming home, unable to readjust to my former life. But I always did.

So I lost hope in becoming forever changed, and accepted the fact that, while certain events have an impact on my life, there is no singular event that could completely shake up my perspective. As a result, I became cynical, jaded. I didn’t think it was possible to make lifelong friends in such a temporary situation, nor did I ever want to refer to something like this as the best time of my life. It just wasn’t realistic to think that one small period in my life, riddled with dramatic events, could fundamentally change me as a person.

In a way, I was right.

Yes, the major events are the ones that are the most documented. But the minutiae of daily life in Sweden are the ones that I am going to miss the most. The change has been gradual, barely perceptible. Friendships were formed organically and developed over time. I warmed up to my surroundings and took the time to appreciate them.

The ways I’ve changed are more sustainable. They didn’t have the explosive intensity that comes with immediately establishing a best friend, the way we all did as kids. I just hope that the half-life of these changes is longer than they have been previously.

As I write this, fueled by jetlag and nostalgia, I urge you to remember the little things, the things that happened so often that they would be weird to photograph (and no, smartphones don’t make it any less awkward). I am beyond grateful that I was given this chance to change. Maybe the change won’t last forever, but I’m okay with that.

Tack, Stockholm. Jag älskar så mycket dig, och jag ska längta efter dig.

14 November 2011


I’ve written a lot about writing before. And I’ve written about not being able to write, too. But the thing with me writing is that when I actually do sit down and write (which is, unfortunately, becoming less and less frequent), I do so with an idea in mind. A thought, most commonly. Something that I have intellectualized and analyzed and considered in various ways before committing to putting those thoughts into prose.

But then something happened last week.

I had been feeling like shit for a while, so I finally decided to have myself checked out by a nurse at the university. She found some lumps in my throat and recommended that I see a doctor immediately. Before you freak out, it turned out to just be a viral infection back there. Sure, it sucks, but I can handle it until it goes away.

But at that time, I was so freaked out, and so frustrated with everything that when I got home, I sat at my computer and wrote. Because I was so exhausted, my normal filters weren’t up. I wrote what I felt.

When I re-read what I had written, I was taken aback. Those pages were full of things that had been lingering in my head, not daring to come to fruition or unable to do so because I couldn’t find the right words. I had gotten to a point where I couldn’t have them in there anymore, and when I saw them all spelled out, I was scared. Shit got dark.

I did something that I had never done before. Instead of publishing, I sent the document to my mom, who, after reading said document, almost cried. What sort of person wants to make their mother cry? Needless to say, I didn’t upload.

I believe in expressing oneself. But I also believe in discretion. There are some things that I don’t feel comfortable sharing with strangers on the Internet. So sue me.

Reading that document made me realize something. I didn’t realize how much was actually getting to me. Yes, my first instinct is to think rather than feel. I may put on a tough act. But I am not invincible, and no one (besides me) expects me to be. I am not impervious to the sudden darkness, or to being alone in a foreign country, or to being frustrated with a body that can’t keep up with my mind.

But I am not fragile either.

So bring it on, Swedish winter. I can take you, mind, body, and soul.

Maybe posting this after a week’s worth of analysis on the incident is counterproductive. But hey, at least I’m writing.

06 November 2011

fortress of solitude

So, for some inexplicable reason, I am currently enjoying the second break of this semester. Not that I’m complaining. Stockholm University gets me. But, while my peers whisked away to various locations around Europe, I decided to stay put. Except, it wasn’t an actual conscious decision on my part, but rather an absence of a decision. My point is, I am here. And it is amazing.

I have this entire week to see Stockholm with fresh eyes. I walked around Central Stockholm as a tourist again yesterday, eyes wide open. I didn’t have to rush to class or to meet anyone. I got to be selfish and do everything at my own pace. I was planning on going to Gamla Stan today, but I decided that I woke up too late, so I read and cleaned my apartment. My life is terribly difficult.

While being alone is among my favorite things, I couldn’t help but notice that it emphasizes certain characteristics of mine that are a bit disturbing. For starters, I’ve been wearing the same shirt for the past two days. Of course, pants do not accompany this shirt. I have also found that it is entirely possible to subsist on coffee, but I know that I’m going to have to make a change soon.

But the most disturbing things about being alone is that all I hear are my own unfiltered thoughts.

A couple days ago, I noticed that there was the unpleasant sensation that something was lodged in my throat. It wasn’t painful and didn’t constrict my breathing, but it was annoying and even now I am very aware of its presence. No matter how violently I coughed or cleared my throat, the feeling persisted. I drank hot tea with honey, swallowed large quantities of bread, and even gargled with warm salt water (which can only be described as leaving the feeling of drinking hot ocean).

Finally, I inspected the back of my throat with a handheld mirror and my desk lamp. Then, I realized that I don’t exactly know what a normal throat should look like, so there is a possibility that something could be wrong but I simply wasn’t trained to spot it.

In a panic, I googled possible medical reason why I would feel this way. Biggest. Mistake. Ever.

Correction. Using Google Image search was the biggest mistake ever.

I was bombarded with images of strep throat and throat cancer, as well as lists of symptoms for the aforementioned that may or may not correspond with my condition. Of course, one website mentioned that it could be due to stress, so the best course of action would be to not think about it and calm down. Clearly that person does not understand how a hypochondriac functions (or does not function). I cannot stop thinking about whatever the fuck is back there, and I am far from calm. And, since there’s no distraction from it, I keep chugging tea and eating bread with the hope that it’ll just go away.

In the meanwhile, I’m going to do some more reading and figure out what I want to do for the rest of the week.

30 October 2011

is this good?

Caution: I am about to toot my own horn a teeny bit.

I have been told I am a good writer. To those of you who have said this to me, thank you.It really means a lot.

But as I sit here, writing this piece instead of one of the two papers I have due on Tuesday, I have to wonder: what constitutes a good writer? How do we know the difference?

If a good writer is determined by writing habits, then I doubt I qualify. I mean, I’m using this bit of writing here to procrastinate on writing something that will actually be assessed and graded. I do not exactly have my priorities straight at this moment in time. Also, as I am sure you have noticed (or can see by the pattern in the archives of this blog), I am not consistent. I write in spurts,and then am negligent for a while until I find inspiration or motivation or something. When I am compelled, I write. Otherwise, I fill my time in another way. Not exactly the most sustainable way to be a good writer.

If a good writer is determined by subject matter, then my qualification is also debatable. When people ask me what I write about, I am always at a loss for words. How would you answer? Life? My thoughts? Nothing? Everything? I cannot answer the question appropriately because I don’t know what the answer is. As a result, I either sound like a pretentious douchebag or an oblivious idiot, neither of which (I hope) accurately describe me. Is it possible to be a good writer when I don’t even know exactly what it is I write about? Jury’s still out.

If a good writer is determined by voice, then I guess I am okay. I know that there are very few people who share my point of view, and there are even fewer who articulate themselves in the same way. My word choice and syntax are uniquely my own, and for that I am grateful. But just because I have a distinctive style does not mean that it is any good. Valley girls have a distinctive style, but that doesn’t make them any less irritating.

So where does this breakdown leave me? Exactly where I was when I started—unsure of myself and my abilities, yet somehow still eager to persist. Maybe being a good writer is being a little bit stupid, intensely self-critical, and extraordinarily caffeinated. If that is the case, then I think I may have a bright future ahead of me. I may even be able to develop into a great writer. Of course, there is the possibility that I might spiral downward into a mess of frustration and hindered social skills. The two are not mutually exclusive. But hey, if I’m a great writer, people will be able to understand me regardless,and may even cite my idiosyncrasies as lovable quirks.

18 October 2011

the lens


Let’s be real. I’m not above being a little bit petty sometimes. I still find myself feeling resentment for no justifiable reason and doing stupid passive aggressive things about which I am not proud at a later time.

That’s not to say that I’m a terrible person. I swear I can be nice sometimes. Sweet, even. But these instances are not relevant to this post, so I’m going to move along.

Wait. Actually they might be. There are instances when the degree to which I need to make other people happy surprises me. I think that because I don’t exactly have the best track record when it comes to friendship, when I identify someone with potential, I jump on the opportunity.

For example, I align myself with the other person, consciously or unconsciously, in terms of cultural consumption or opinion, in the hopes of receiving some sort of validation. Sometimes that alignment manifests itself in the form of picking up certain mannerisms, which is just as creepy and unsettling for me as I imagine it would be for the other person. But, because I like the other person, I’m okay with assimilating.

Conversely, when I decide I dislike someone, I find myself resorting to childishness as an active attempt to further my dislike. If someone that falls into this category were to say something that I legitimately found funny, I would do my best not to laugh because I wouldn’t want to give that person the satisfaction.

Yes, I realize that this behavior is irrational and immature. But try and tell me that you have never done the same thing.

Thinking about my perception of certain people and how that established image affects the way in which I interpret their actions made me think of a little game I have played walking around in Stockholm. The rules are simple: identify a person whose actions are inherently inoffensive, then imagine that that person is a rapist/murderer.

With this simple change, those seemingly innocent actions have a projected motivation, and are therefore tainted. That man walking down the street listening to his iPod? That old lady sitting on a bench? The dude browsing an aisle in the grocery store? All of them are demented, and everything they do reflect their deranged way of thinking. I mean, I understand that those observations are not necessarily true (though they might be). But it’s fascinating to see how someone can change so drastically without any action on their part.

Playing this game has made me wonder what sort of impression I give to strangers. How much do I give away with the way I walk or talk? Through what sort of lens am I viewed? Do other people think about things like this with as much frequency?

My guess is probably not. 

Also, I don’t mean anything by “give away.” There isn’t anything wrong with me that I need to hide. I promise.

11 October 2011

first impressions (again)


I think we’ve established that I do things that don’t make a ton of sense. Also, we know by now that things that shouldn’t make people uncomfortable make me uncomfortable.

Last week was fall break, which means that everyone sort of split off and did some exploring around Europe. As previously mentioned, I went to Berlin then London. I had fun. I have no problem saying so.

But, for some reason, when someone who I haven’t seen for a while asks me how my break was, I panic. I guess part of it can be traced back to this post, which is alarming in its implications of how little I’ve grown since third grade.

Also, part of that discomfort could stem from my tendency to let other people dominate the conversation and only contribute when necessary (usually in the form of a snarky comment). So when all the focus is put on me, I don’t know what to do, or how long it is acceptable to talk uninterrupted. Plus, I don’t know if the other person actually cares about the minutiae of my trip or the details I tend to notice. Do other people care about bricks? Does anyone else find the way people walk in train stations fascinating?

I always feel like I’m boring the other person, so I usually end up mumbling something along the lines of “It was so much fun, except I got sick. But how was yours?” then listen while they recount their trip. Maybe it’s cynical of me, but when I talk I feel like the other person isn’t really listening, but is just waiting for a break so they can talk. Someone once told me that the key to getting another person to like you is to let that person talk about himself.

Another thing I never look forward to after a break is the first day back. I know it sounds stupid, but after being separated from other people for a while, I feel pressured to make a good first impression again, even though they already know me and nothing about me has really changed. I’ve learned that dressing for other people usually ends with me wearing something that feels like a costume, but my logic takes a backseat to my need to remind people that I still exist. Luckily, I was feeling terrible yesterday, so I saw no problem wearing a sweater that looks like a blanket on the first day back. Besides, the tissue rash on my face was doing me no favors.

I figured that if I looked as miserable as I felt, people would stay away for fear of infection. Crisis averted.

09 October 2011

little girl lost

If you haven’t been able to tell, writing has not come easily for me recently. In fact, my writer’s block was so intense that I feared I would remain in a state of permanent stasis.

Which was why I was so excited for the first break in my semester. A group of my friends and I were going to Berlin, then I was splitting off from the group to visit family in London. I was sure that the change in location would jolt me out of my dormancy.

Oh, Berlin jolted me, but not quite as I anticipated.

With my writer’s block and all, I may have been wordless before. But, in Berlin, I was rendered completely speechless. Every other moment was marked by a “wtf?” from someone in my group. There were so many contradictions, so many incongruities, and so many moments of sheer lunacy. To me, Berlin will always evoke a strong sense of confusion.

Greatly dismayed, I was pushed even further into my silence. It wasn’t until we visited the Berlin Wall that I felt myself re-awakening. I was acutely aware that I was witnessing the aftermath of events with monumental historical significance, but in the midst of it all, people were just trying to live their lives. All of a sudden, I had an epiphany. There were people whose voices were permanently snuffed out. Mine was just hibernating.

Yes, writer’s block is an occupational hazard that comes second to paper cuts in terms of agony (especially when I find them via hand sanitizer), but it isn’t the end of the world. This little girl might be lost right now, but she still has access to words. Sure, they may not flow as nicely or articulately as she is accustomed, but they still have potential. What matters is that the words don’t stop.

After the jarring experience of seeing a site of terror firsthand, it was good to spend time in London as a palate cleanser. Of course, there has been bloodshed and horror all over (on a side note, the Tower of London was easily my favorite tourist site). But the wounds were less fresh, and the rawness I felt from Berlin was not present there.

So what did I learn from this trip? Nothing I didn’t know before: life goes on. Sometimes I might feel stuck, but it’s up to me to keep on moving. The present will someday be part of history, and it’s up to me to poke my head out and be part of it.

I guess I just needed to be reminded.

14 September 2011

a matter of tact

Yes, I realize that this title is terrible, even for me. My sincerest apologies.

As I was getting ready for class today, my mind wandered to the subject of the Jim Carrey film, Liar, Liar (as it is wont to do). When viewing this film for the first time as a small child, I was taken in by the slapstick humor and elasticity of one Mr. Carrey’s face. But, since that initial viewing, questions about the film have plagued me, finally spurring me to write about them today.

The premise of the film is simple enough: a pathological liar loses the ability to lie for an entire day, thanks to his son’s birthday wish. Hilarity ensues.

But, at least from my point of view, it doesn’t have to. Sure, that version of the film would have been far less entertaining, but it also would have been less infuriating.

Let’s suspend disbelief and deem this involuntary bout of honesty a possibility. Carrey immediately spews his honest opinions about those around him, performs horribly in court, and has a memorable interaction with a pen during the course of the movie.

All of these things make for great comedy, but logically, I have a problem with the plot. Was there a clause of the wish that somehow went unmentioned? Did he lose his filter completely? My point is, it was as though every thought he had needed to be verbalized, regardless of social convention. Why couldn’t he have just kept his thoughts to himself? He didn’t necessarily have to tell his boss that she was repulsive, nor did he need to scream that his client was guilty. He could have thought it, but rather than lie outright, he could have just opted not to say anything at all.

My argument could be invalidated, however, if the filmmakers were taking a stance on honesty, equating withholding the truth with verbally lying. Then, not only would they be questioning whether honesty is the best policy, but they would shatter the foundation of what constitutes a lie. This film could have had the potential to alter social conventions forever.

But, since I don’t know the filmmakers personally, nor do I know anyone who would be willing to discuss such matters with me, I won’t know for sure. These questions will simply persist in my mind, among other queries (How can I get my hair to behave? Why is everything so expensive in Stockholm? How did I manage to chip off such a large portion of my nail polish without noticing?)

I do think that honesty is important in any relationship, but I also value the silence that comes when something doesn’t need to be said. In fact, I think that the sign of a true adult is one who knows when to shut the hell up.

12 September 2011

on manrepelling

For those of you unfamiliar, please go here so that the rest of this post makes sense to you. Or not. I’m a writer, not the police.

As a quick recap, I am in Stockholm. Stockholm is fantastic: the food is yummy, the buildings are gorgeous, the language is entertaining. But my favorite thing about Stockholm so far is the people. Not only are they gorgeous, but they dress incredibly well.

Which brings me back to man repelling. As a young woman, I recognize that now is the prime of my life, at least, in terms of looks. I also understand the importance of utilizing what I have to my advantage. Even though I get it on an intellectual level, I am driven towards dressing like a crazy person. On a regular day, it is safe to assume that fifty percent of whatever I am wearing is intended for men, and the rest are usually made for someone outside side of my age demographic (from toddler to old lady; I tend to swing to the extremes).

After stumbling upon the Man Repeller, I realized that I may or may not have found a kindred spirit. Someone who dresses to make herself happy, and does not necessarily adhere to normal standards of beauty. In fact, she often puts ensembles together just to see what happens.

This is how I get all the men.

While I appreciate her efforts, I have to wonder about the legitimacy of manrepelling. Even though she prides herself on her sartorial freedom, she still (for the most part) looks nice. At least, the individual pieces are nice. Other times, however, I feel like she puts in serious effort to look as ludicrous as possible, just for the sake of looking ludicrous. Those posts are entertaining, but I find them less genuine, and therefore not in the spirit of dressing to make oneself happy.

Thinking about manrepelling reminds me of what elementary school teachers used to tell me: “Just be yourself and people will like you. You’ll make friends eventually.”

The thing is, a saying like that is way too idealistic. Growing up, I’ve learned that people lie all the time. Call me a cynic, but being yourself doesn’t mean that people will like you. Your self might be crazy.

By being a manrepeller, I get to express myself and know that I am happy and comfortable in my skin. However, it also means that I will not be attracting any males any time soon. Should I just give in? Sacrifice a little bit of individuality so that I may be happier later on?

Judging by the fact that I am sitting in my apartment wearing mens boxer briefs and a shirt whose name is White Tiger Stalk, I don’t think that that sort of sacrifice is going to happen any time soon.

I suppose I’ll just have to wait for someone to actually like me for me. Lucky me. And lucky him.

30 August 2011

the gamble

Although it seems like much longer, I arrived in Stockholm about three days ago. With delay after delay, I thought that this arduous journey could not get any worse, until all of my frustration culminated in the loss of all my luggage. Needless to say, it sucked balls. What’s important now is that I’m here and happy.

Now that the obligatory introduction to a new locale has been completed, I can move on to the point of this post.

I am not the gambling type. Considering my track record, I think it would probably be better to bet against me. But taking gambling advice from me would be a bad idea.

Living in Sweden requires me to take huge risks. Before you groan about a stereotypical inspirational blather about being open-minded and proactive to make friends and learn about the culture, know this. I am talking about something with way higher stakes: food.

I went grocery shopping for the first time yesterday, and was immediately overwhelmed by how little Swedish I knew. Sure, the pictures on the labels were semi-helpful, but at the end of the day I just wanted everything to be simple. Is it so terrible to want to buy a bottle of still water with the confidence that it won’t be sparkling? Is it so wrong to want to take a sip of juice with the confidence that it is, in fact, juice? Am I so unreasonable to want to know what granola package contains straight up granola?

I really hope that these are strawberry/raspberry yogurt and crackers. We’ll see.

But that isn’t even the biggest fear I have with food.

Once, I went to a bakery and ordered a chocolate croissant, mouth watering at the thought of its potential for deliciousness. However, the universe had something different in mind. When I took my first bite, I was bombarded with ham (which I detest) and cheese (which is actually okay). Maybe the ham and cheese croissant wasn’t terrible, but since my mindset was fixed on the notion of chocolate, the incongruity between my expectations and reality was jarring.

In other words, this.

Back to Stockholm.

I was ready to buy milk, but remembered someone mentioning that sour cream is often in a nearly identical package to that of milk. The labels even resemble each other.

Sure I can navigate the Tunnelbana (Stockholm subway system) and find my way around Gamla Stan (Old Town Stockholm) without any trouble. But read and make a decision? Preposterous.

Can you imagine pouring sour cream over some cereal? Unfortunately, I can, and far too vividly. I left the store without milk today. If I muster up the courage, there may be some in my future. But yesterday? I made a safe bet.

24 August 2011

the mary-kate philosophy


Recently, I conducted another little social experiment, this time involving a very dear friend of mine. This lovely girl, who shall be henceforth referred to as Subject H, is notoriously bad at textual communication. To make plans with her required me to actively seek out her current situation, then call her to make sure she was awake during our specified meeting time. No spontaneity with this one.

It started innocently enough. I wanted to talk to my friend. But as I became frustrated with my uninterrupted string of displayed text messages on my phone, the researcher in me emerged with a diabolical plan.

Since we have been separated since the end of last semester, I decided that I would test what exactly I would have to text to her to illicit a response or, god willing, a conversation.

I began with simple texts, nothing too serious, that said something along the lines of “hello how are you I miss you,” except less desperate and more friendly. Subject H responded rather infrequently, and when she did, her texts were often mono or disyllabic. None of these warranted the response for which I had hoped (a conversation with a friend).

I then took the next logical step and upped the ante. I texted increasingly outlandish things to receive some sort of validation. I referenced inside jokes, made comments with which I was sure Subject H would agree with my opinion, and emphasized how much I value her as a friend.

What finally caught her attention was this text, verbatim: “there’s a smudged spider carcass on the ceiling of my bathroom. i left it there as a warning to the others.”

This carefully crafted narrative was perfect in ways that I only realized after the fact. Yes, it was crazy. But it was also true. This text message contained enough normalcy to be plausible, but it was also riddled with a wtf factor that was as undeniable as it was alluring.

Which brings me to the title of this post.

If you know me, then it’s possible you are aware of my unhealthy obsession with Mary-Kate Olsen. Yes, I’ve seen her various film and television projects, I’ve lusted after her clothing lines, and follow a few fashion blogs devoted to her sartorial choices.

After conducting this little experiment, it occurred to me that that same philosophy applies to other things in life as well. For me, the most apparent example lies in my fascination with MK.

Sure, her normalcy isn’t quite as obvious. Her upbringing certainly doesn’t help my hypothesis. But she does normal people things: she drinks Starbucks, she goes to the airport, she does yoga. Likewise, her clothes are fundamentally normal: pants, shirts, heels. But she also has that wtf factor that makes me ever so curious. Why is her coffee so comically large? Why are there so many superfluous layers on such a small frame? Why would she decide to wear six-inch heels on a flight?

The reason why MK stands out in my mind is that she’s not completely normal, but also not completely batshit. She straddles the line, and sometimes errs on the latter side, but she isn’t on either extreme. She doesn't seem to be dressing like a crazy person so that other people with notice how alternative she is. She looks to me like she genuinely enjoys herself, which makes her all the more compelling. I look forward to what she comes up with next, with the hope that she will remain creative to satisfy herself and not just to be crazy for crazy's sake.

It is for this reason that my spider text sparked a conversation. It wasn’t a mundane catch-up, but it also wasn’t a plot to murder someone or something else equally insane. It was a true story with a hint of lunacy that was interesting enough to start a dialogue, but not so extreme that it was inaccessible as a starting point for discourse.

It has been nine days since you last texted me. Your move, Subject H. Unless you want me to go all MK on you. I don't mind; I actually kind of like it.

All photos courtesy of Olsens Anonymous (not so anonymous anymore).

18 August 2011

social experiment: pacing and spacing (or walking, for normal people)

Before you go on about how walking doesn’t seem to be that difficult, do me a favor. Next time you’re walking around, pay attention. I mean really pay attention. Notice the order in which the parts of your feet make contact with the ground. Listen to determine whether or not your breathing and footsteps are in sync. Feel the role your arms play in propelling you forward. If you can maintain a normal stride while being painfully self-aware, I commend you. Apparently, I cannot.

For most people, walking is a process that requires very little thought. But upon further inspection, there are certain rules one obeys, and, more often than not, does not even consider their existence.

I’ll begin with the most basic rule: pace is important. I noticed that I tend to walk with a purpose, regardless of whether I actually have one. As a result, I keep a brisk pace. I suppose my upbringing plays a large role in my pre-set rhythm; my mother walks fairly quickly, so if I couldn’t keep up I would be left behind. But walking around in a city has undoubtedly contributed as well. There isn’t a predetermined pace for the sidewalk per se, but it is very easy to tell when someone is going above or below the speed limit.

Likewise, there is an unspoken decorum about spacing. Of course, I think my personal space bubble may be larger than the average person, but most people will agree that there is a certain threshold when it comes to spacing on a sidewalk, both laterally and longitudinally (?). Spellcheck tells me that that is a word, so I am going to continue. Spellcheck is apparently not a word.

Anyway, there is a safe distance that must remain between strangers, and therefore people must adjust accordingly. There are some instances that cause confusion for yours truly, like revolving doors (is it okay to share a segment with someone if you know the person? I mean, I wouldn’t feel comfortable with a stranger, but I also don’t like being cramped in there. Also, I am uneasy about the idea of having my heels run over by the partition or being knocked over in general. I usually just wait the awkward amount of time for the next available space and go at it alone.), but in general people act without giving it a second thought.

Despite my fairly rigid ideas about what constitutes “correct” walking etiquette, I decided to play around with other people’s concepts of propriety. Also, I was hopped up on caffeine with no productive outlet. Naturally, I resorted to testing the patience of those around me.

I began by messing with pacing. I tore down Powell, making sure not to disrupt anyone else as I wove expertly between groups of milling tourists. I didn’t really elicit any response, but I was thrown the occasional dirty look as I bypassed some of the larger groups, who were not unlike grazing cattle. Not that they were fat or anything.

I then tried the other extreme: I moved at a glacial pace, espresso in hand, with a complacent if not slightly spacey expression on my face. I could feel people losing their patience around me, but since I was alone, it was fairly easy for people to walk around me, quickening their pace noticeably, as if to admonish me and set an example for how I should behave. I had to wonder whether this act of passive-aggression was intentional. I had to stop, however, because I was becoming annoyed with myself. It is surprisingly difficult to defy what one was hard-wired to do.

After recording my findings, I moved onto spacing. This portion was much more difficult than the pacing portion because of the amount of external factors over which I had no control. The lateral portion proved the most challenging by far. It was almost impossible to walk alongside someone without the other person changing pace almost immediately. Ignoring my overwhelming feelings of rejection, I put the situation in perspective and realized that I, too, would be creeped out if a random person (no matter how cute) started to walk alongside me. I would quicken my pace, which is what most people did. I guess it’s a subtler means of escape than exaggerating the walking motion to slow down. It would have been funny, though.

I had more success with the longitudinal test. I found the threshold at which people started to notice there was someone behind them with relative ease, as indicated by the person in front looking back, but after crossing that line, the results varied significantly. More sensitive folks altered their pace upon realization that I was trailing them. Others looked back, and, realizing that I posed no physical threat, continued their consistent speed until I got too close, then changed. One woman didn’t even look back, and I was three steps behind her for about five blocks until she turned in the opposite direction of where I was headed. Either her peripheral awareness was lacking, or she didn’t care that I was following her rather obviously.

So what have I learned today? People, myself included, like their personal space, and make adjustments, either consciously or unconsciously, to maintain that space. There are unspoken rules that only come to people’s attention when they have been violated. Creeping on strangers can be fun when executed considerately. In other words, I have learned nothing.

10 August 2011

spoiler alert

Warning: This blog post contains spoilers for the Sailor Moon series. Not that any of you guys probably care. But just in case...

While I was bedridden, I was sure to make use of my time productively. I mean, I literally had to be horizontal, so I took advantage of my disability. I watched all two hundred episodes of Sailor Moon, an activity that I had not done since I was in elementary school. Despite my usually impeccable memory, parts of the storyline were fuzzy. After all, Sailor Moon was such a complex, nuanced series. I was shocked at just how useless Tuxedo Mask was, how mean Sailor Mars was, and just how much Serena's character developed.

But as I was watching on YouTube, I noticed that some of the episode numberings were off, leading to confusion and frustration on my part. Naturally, I consulted the authority on all things Internet-related: Wikipedia.

People like me should avoid Wikipedia. Not only are there endless ways to become immersed in the content until I can't remember my original purpose for visiting the site, but there are also spoilers. Lots of them.

Yes, I did manage to figure out why there were discrepancies in the numbering (it was a matter of what was released here versus Japan, as well as what was dubbed versus subtitled). But because I am composed of equal parts curiosity and stubbornness, I couldn't help but read the spoilers about the general plot. Even though I didn't want to, I learned about the whole Queen Serenity plotline (it was super obvious how that one was going to turn out).

I had unwittingly learned the synopsis of the entire series. Luckily, I had the self control to ignore the descriptions of each individual episode.

At least, I did on Wikipedia.

But as I was watching on YouTube, I developed the nasty habit of reading the comments as I waited for the video to load. There was one episode I regret doing so in particular. Because I hate myself and enjoy ruining things, I read the comments as usual, only to read one that said something along the lines of "Rini is Serena's daughter from the future?!?!?!?!?!"

If only you were present to hear the colorful language that erupted forth from my outraged mouth.

I had completely forgotten that detail. I was angry at a complete stranger for ruining a surprise that I had forgotten. But I was even angrier with myself for being weak. Also, for not learning my lesson. I spoiled Serenity for myself (Spolier alert: Wash dies). I spoiled the first season of True Blood for myself (Spoiler alert: Rene is the murderer). I even spoiled Dexter for myself (Spoiler alert: Dexter and Rita have a baby. Although, technically it was Netflix's fault because they showed the cover of the dvds and the third season had Dexter with a baby. Also, Rita dies). I cannot tell you how many books I have ruined for myself when flipping to the last page to find out how I can evenly divide the pages among a certain amount of time.

It probably doesn't help that Spoiler alert is usually written in bold, thus drawing the eye toward the words.

07 August 2011

a benevolent dictator?

Perhaps I am alone in this, but I have often wondered what would happen if I were given complete, omnipotent control in a world without restraints. Luckily, for like-minded people of my generation, there is an outlet through which we can see just what kind of ruler we may be. I am talking, of course, about the Sims franchise.

I have been an avid player since the inception of the game; my first exposure to this experiment occurred at the tender age of ten. I didn’t realize it at the time, but by playing, I was beginning to answer the age-old conundrum: does great responsibility necessarily come with great power?

She looks pleasant.

At first, I was purely pragmatic. The choices I made affected the lives of these people in concrete ways, and so I did everything in my power to make it as easy for me as possible. Did I want them to die of starvation? If not, I should probably make them build their Cooking skills. Similarly, it made sense that they should pursue careers in which the skills necessary were skills that the Sims would need to survive anyways. Hence, during the first phase of my gameplaying years, my Sims were all chefs.

But that quickly became boring. And, as you probably know, a bored me is a dangerous me.

It should also be noted that my game experienced a glitch around this time, permanently disabling the save function. In other words, there were literally no lasting repercussions to the actions I decided to take. There were no consequences and no responsibilities.

Sure, I would do my best to make my Sims the best they could possibly be. But, after a couple of hours of succeeding without any challenge, my Sims would ultimately find themselves in a tiny carpeted room with no windows or doors being forced to play with fireworks for hours on end. Or, if I decided to draw the inevitable deaths out further, I would simply remove the ladders from the pool (before the Sims creators upgraded the game so it wouldn’t matter) and watch as they circled the metaphorical drain. Also, I considered it an achievement to have a social worker take away the children or for the Tragic Clown to attempt to ameliorate the situation. The levels of cruelty I exhibited were unprecedented, and luckily, have yet to reappear.

Once I upgraded my game, however, my sense of responsibility returned. Instead of committing horrifying acts of sadism, I devoted my energy to making my Sims extraordinary. They strove to master every skill, befriend every citizen, and reach the top of their careers as the indisputable best. Not only were they capable of taking care of themselves, but they were cultured and interesting to other Sims. Some even became Celebrities. These SuperSims were the fruit of all my efforts and wasted hours. They were no longer my playthings. They were individuals, and they deserved the best.

I have to wonder, now that I have a bit of distance, if the change in my attitude reflected what was happening in my development. As I matured, I put increasing value in merit, and less in senseless violence that I knew would be absolved the next time I logged in to play. I suppose I figured that being pimped out was a much more favorable option than dying repeatedly with no recollection of the previous death.

I know I’m not the only one who has subjected their Sims to oddities. But I do know that I am far less inclined to do so presently. It is quite upsetting to watch a Sim to whom I have dedicated a large amount of time fry from electrocution. Especially when that Sim was just about to achieve her Lifetime Goal. I’m not bitter.

I really must be growing up.

05 August 2011

it's a bit early in the night to post something that makes this little sense

As I was lying in bed during yet another sleepless night, I thought to myself, “Welp, now’s as good a time as any to write.” So here I am.

Students who desperately need money are a cliché, but that doesn’t make us any less real. Hell, clichés have to come from somewhere, right? Unfortunately for me, being out of school also means I’m out of a job (unless someone out there needs someone to archive historical documents or make snarky comments. call me!). But that doesn’t mean I haven’t tried. Here are some tips I have, based on my personal experience, on how to be a failed entrepreneur.

Step 1. Be lazy.

That’s all I have so far. You can’t expect me to be consistently brilliant in the middle of the night.

Sweet dreams! Salvatore is watching you.

PS I'm working on a new bracelet.

PPS It's less cute as a mustache.

Ignore the almonds.

02 August 2011

this post is not for the faint of heart

I realize that my morbidity may make a few people uncomfortable. As a courtesy to those people, I have written this disclaimer. If you don’t necessarily enjoy reading about the often graphic inner workings of a young mind, please consider perusing this website for something less obviously messed up. I wish you well on your endeavors.

This is my muse, Salvatore. He’s sassy. And before you ask, why yes, I do love unicorns.

For those of you who decided to stick around, hello. I am now going to share with you a thought process that I experience nearly every day.

Maybe I read too many books in my formative years. Maybe I spend more time in my own head than in the real world. Maybe this kind of behavior is completely normal. But sometimes, my vivid imagination gets the best of me and I have to stop and take a second to remember which is reality and which is fiction.

For example, when I’m sitting in a car, I often have to overwhelming urge to open the door and unbuckle myself. I know that it’s dangerous and I’m not supposed to do it, but I’ve always been so curious about what would happen if I did. At times, the urge has been so severe that I’ve had to lock the door and sit on my hands so I don’t do anything stupid. Or gruesome.

Although I’m not a mathematical person, I find myself considering the probability of being injured on a daily basis, and marveling at the fact that I have somehow beaten the odds.

Think, for instance, about how many times you may have walked through tanbark in open-toed shoes. Or ran through a thicket of trees without any protective eyewear. Or stepped on one of those bumpy yellow things at the corner of every intersection (I don’t actually know what they’re called, but you must know what I mean) without consciously deciding where to put your feet.

There were plenty of opportunities for the universe to flip you a huge middle finger and lodge an errant piece of wood under one of your toenails, stab you in the eye, or twist your ankle so you fall into the street.

But it didn’t. For something so horrific to happen, the circumstances would have to be exactly right (or exactly wrong, depending on whether or not you’re the recipient). And, if I can trust my mathematical skills, the odds of that happening are very slim. I suppose that also depends on the frequency with which one performs these tasks.

Even though I understand the logic, I know that I will always tread carefully on tanbark, extend both hands in front of me to catch tree branches, and place the heel of my shoes exactly between two yellow bumps on the ground. No matter how curious I get, I will lock the door and occupy my attention with something else (my phone). I’d rather not tempt fate. We’ve hung out before, and we don’t exactly get along. Fate was the one who gave me a papercut between my index and middle finger on my right hand so that I couldn’t type properly. Fate was the one who gave me a mosquito bite on the inside of my left nostril, just out of reach and making it look like I was digging for gold.

29 July 2011

if a quiz is quizzical, what is a test?


In a none-too-rare moment of procrastination, I took a personality test. Normally, I don’t take these things too seriously. I mean, there are personality tests in magazines like Cosmo. But after suspending disbelief, I started noticing patterns. Namely, to what extent my paranoia dictates the way in which I think.

The medium of the test truly makes a difference. I know I can’t be the only one who, when taking a personality test in a magazine, has peeked at the results then tried to engineer my responses so they align with my perceived ideal. It’s fairly easy to tell which are the “correct” answers. For example, the responses to the question “What do you do when you see a cute guy across the room?” are something along the lines of a) avoid him like the plague, b) make eye contact for a few seconds and smile, or c) take off your top. The person is immediately determined to be cold, “normal,” or kind of skanky.

But taking a test like this online was a completely different experience. First of all, the subject matter was less trivial. Instead of focusing on dating etiquette, or trying to determine what type of man is best for me (nerds or artists. how groundbreaking.), this quiz was about my work ethic and habits. I had to actually stop and think about what my honest response would be.

The method for answering complicated my process as well. There were ten bubbles for each statement, and I would have to rate the statement’s relevance to my personal philosophy on a scale of one to ten. The thing is, some of the statements had multiple clauses, and some were more relevant than others.

Therein began my struggle. How do I compensate for any discrepancies? As a result, there were not many responses on either extreme. Not everything can be distilled as simply as “exactly like me” or “exactly the opposite of me.” Plus, my responses could vary dramatically depending on my state of mind or time of day, but that does mean that my response would be any less true. As I was looking over my responses, I realized just how noncommittal I came across.

Then the paranoia set on. What if my test was being live streamed where someone could tell how long it took for me to respond? Could someone see how many times I changed my answer before I settled on what was as close to the truth as possible? Was that part of the test? If I were to conduct this sort of experiment, I would definitely take these factors into consideration.

Of course, I know that it would be incredibly impractical for someone to carry out what I have just described. I also know that my tendency to overcomplicate things plays a large part in this caffeine-fueled rant. I mean, I sort of know. A part of me still wonders if someone is as dedicated to being a creeper as me.

26 July 2011

work in progress

I am currently working through a new idea, but as I was procrastinating, I stumbled upon a personality quiz at http://psychcentral.com/personality-patterns/. Here are my results. I don't think they will surprise anyone.


You are thoughtful, rational, and comfortable in the world of ideas. People find you interesting to talk to. You're the living embodiment of the saying "You learn something new every day." In general, those with a high score on the "intellectual" trait are employed in such fields as teaching and research, and are enthusiastic about reading, foreign films, and classical music. You do not avoid abstract conversation, experimenting with new ideas, or studying new things. It bores you to stick to the straight and narrow of what you already know.


You are thoughtful, rational, and comfortable in the world of ideas. People find you interesting to talk to. You're the living embodiment of the saying "You learn something new every day." In general, those with a high score on the "intellectual" trait are employed in such fields as teaching and research, and are enthusiastic about reading, foreign films, and classical music. You do not avoid abstract conversation, experimenting with new ideas, or studying new things. It bores you to stick to the straight and narrow of what you already know.


You feel it's important to work according to a plan and finish every task, to do things correctly and thoroughly. You are not the kind of person who abandons a project before finishing it, or slacks off when you've lost interest.


You appreciate art, beauty, and design; you know that they are not superficial but absolutely crucial to living the good life. You have good taste, and you're proud of it. Those with a high score on the "aesthetic" trait are often employed in literary or artistic professions, enjoy domestic activities — doing things around the house — and are enthusiastic about the arts, reading, and travel. You don't think it's pretentious to be moved by art and beauty. You're not one of those who believe it doesn't matter what something looks like as long as it does its job.


You strive to master everything you undertake. You tend to learn quickly and do not shy away from challenges. You are not a "que sera sera" type of person, nor do you go easy on yourself when attempting to master a new skill or get a job done.


You are an honest, fair person. You don't lie or cheat to get ahead. You treat others with respect and hope for the same in return. You do not feel that you are above the rules that everyone else follows; you are definitely not willing to do whatever it takes to get ahead.


You like to think a task through before you embark on it. If it's the slightest bit complicated, you make a list (even if it's only in your mind) and methodically work your way through it. When you have a goal in mind, you're not satisfied until you reach it. You are not one of those people who ignore the details, and you don't understand how anyone can get anything accomplished without thoughtful planning ahead of time.


You are a quick study. You generally don't need to have things explained to you more than once. When presented with a problem, you will often have an instant understanding of where to look for the solution. You do not take your sweet time when presented with a new task to complete or problem to solve. You don't avoid assignments that require you to learn new skills.


You like to get to the bottom of things. You're not content knowing what someone did; you want to know why they did it. You don't simply take things as they are and move on; you're not content skimming along on the surface; you don't feel you're wasting time by digging for the meaning of things.


You enjoy teamwork, play well with others, and prefer getting along to winning. You're not compelled to win every contest nor to be right all the time.

Normally, I would end this post with some sort of conclusion about what I have learned about myself. But not today. I'm tired.

24 July 2011

relational paranoia


I know that I write quite a bit about not being self-conscious, touting its advantages and preaching self-confidence. But, writing about that got me thinking about times when I feel self-conscious, and, conversely, times when I do not feel self-conscious. My brain is a vicious chocolate and vanilla swirl.

I can tell when a relationship is successful by the frequency with which I don’t feel self-conscious. That statement is in no way revolutionary. But I know that we’re solid when we can be in complete silence and it’s not weird. In fact, as horrible as it sounds, some of the best times I’ve had with my friends are when we’re not talking at all. You should know that you mean a lot to me if I like to simply be with you.

But then I got to thinking again. What if I had completely misinterpreted all those interactions? What if what I considered blissfully quiet car rides and relaxing afternoons were actually horribly awkward experiences for the other party? While I was perfectly content, the other person may have been suffering in silence, struggling to break the tension I failed to notice. Now I’m the asshole who stared out the window the whole way to the restaurant. I’m the creeper sitting on the floor with her nose in a book. Great.

The risk of misinterpretation extends beyond physical encounters. As some of you may know, the easiest way to communicate with me is through text. They are called CrackBerries for a reason; mine never leaves my side. Although texting is convenient, I can’t help but worry about each one I send. Funnily enough, my biggest challenge is punctuation. The irony of a prospective writer tormented by punctuation does not escape me.

If I am excited about my response, I will include an exclamation point. But, the more I include, the more disingenuous (or creepy) my message comes across. Likewise emoticons. “Hi!” “I’m so excited to see you again!” “That was so much fun!” :] :] :D

In addition, I don’t like texting fragments, so most of my messages are punctuated with commas, periods, and even the occasional semicolon. I know that the inclusion of these punctuation marks makes even the most casual text seem formal, but I can’t break myself of the habit. A dangling text makes me uncomfortable.

The trouble is, someone who is not familiar with the way in which I speak and write might misinterpret my messages as stuffy or even standoffish, of which I am neither. I’ve tried combating this problem by omitting capital letters, but I’m not sure about the degree to which I’ve been successful. I’m concerned that my texting looks more disjointed than ever. Or like I have issues with typing like an adult.

Of course, there’s a definite possibility that I’m overthinking the situation, as usual. Maybe no one else dissects every social interaction like me. And if I've made you feel uncomfortable in any way, I'm really sorry. I understand.

22 July 2011

social experiment: making life difficult for others


This post was supposed to be published days ago, but, ironically, I experienced technical difficulties.

12 July 2011

i suppose i did this to myself

As it is summer, I now have time to do things that I cannot during the school year. Unfortunately, this newfound freedom has given me the opportunity to rekindle a relationship that I classify as tumultuous at best. I’m talking, of course, about my relationship with arts and crafts, which I lovingly refer to as DIY (do it yourself).

I don’t remember when I realized that I was crafty, but as a child I always found myself fidgeting, perpetually seeking something to do with my hands (insert inappropriate joke here yourself, because I’m not going to). Over time, I have taught myself to sew, knit, crochet, embroider, and cross-stitch. In other words, if my previous post about being an old woman didn’t convince you, these tidbits ought to do the trick.

These little hobbies may seem harmless to you, but you, my friend, are wrong. Arts and crafts can consume your soul faster than you can ask me why my bedroom smells like craft glue and sadness.

It all starts with an introduction. A fleeting glance, a bit of hearsay, maybe even online research, for you modern folk out there. When I come across something I like, something doable, I am instantly attracted. I have to know more about it. How can I do something like that for myself? I find the way that makes the most sense and, while the pace varies depending on my initial interest, I pursue.

Once I figure out exactly what it is I need to do, I begin to feel myself being drawn in. Out of curiosity, I ask around about similar experiences, taking mental notes about what to do and what to avoid. I invest both time and money into preparing to take the plunge. All this preparation builds until it spills over and I have to do something.

Before I know it, I’m hooked. I spend every waking hour devoted to my new hobby/obsession, neglecting to eat, sleep, and converse with less insane people (I still have time to talk to myself). I have to finish this, dammit.

After the first project is finished successfully, I become insatiable, immediately moving on to increasingly more difficult tasks, sometimes working on multiple ones simultaneously. Anything to get my fix.

Inevitably, this whirlwind phase must come to an end. I realize that my fingers are now blistered, and there is superglue under my fingernails that will probably never come off. Either that or I lose interest and seek something else to do.

Eventually I stop altogether, and may or may not return. In the meanwhile, I’m going to continue making friendship bracelets and painting my nails. Not simultaneously, of course. They would ruin each other.

Yes, it is taped to my laptop. And yes, that is a unicorn murdering ponies in front of a rainbow.

01 July 2011

foucault and twitter: analyzing the author function

Or, How Twitter Inspired Me to Change My Life. Except, not in an earth-shattering way. More like in an “oh, well this is an interesting way to think about a social networking site” sort of way. Come on. It’s Twitter.

In today’s society, fame can be achieved in a multitude of ways. There are still the tried-and-true methods of attaining this sort of status, such as possessing a talent or acting toward the betterment of humankind, yet with the “advancements” in modern times, these traditional methods are no longer the only manner with which to gain fame, or at the very least, infamy. With the rise of social media like Twitter, it has become more and more difficult for celebrities today to maintain a superhuman image because they do not adhere to Foucault’s “author function.”

In “What is an Author?” Michel Foucault emphasizes the inextricable link between the author and his or her work. Foucault first distinguishes a “writer” from an “author,” in that “[a]n anonymous text posted on a wall probably has a writer—but not an author.” In other words, the author is one who not only produces a work, but also takes ownership for that work.

Following this logic, in taking ownership of the work, the author and the work are forever associated with the other in what Foucault refers to as the “author function.” The author becomes the creator of a genre unique to his or her name; by attributing a work to a specific author, there are certain expectations about the work that are formed simply because of the use of a name. As Foucault writes, “the name seems always to be present, marking off the edges of the text, revealing, or at least characterizing, its mode of being.” The work and the author are therefore eternally tied.

Forming this link is important in acquiring cultural capital for the name. Cultural capital is, according to Pierre Bourdieu in his essay entitled “The Forms of Capital,” the intangible set of skills or knowledge an individual possess. Cultural capital may consist of education as well. In this case, the cultural capital comes in the form of reputation. If an author has been established as esteemed in his or her genre, his or her subsequent works will be preceded by that reputation. Readers familiar with the author’s previous works will buy the book based on the name, and will read with a set of expectations.

While this link is often made unconsciously in the reader’s mind, there have been deliberate efforts to maintain the cohesion between author and work as long as written works have been in existence. As previously mentioned, the author’s name becomes a form of cultural capital when associated with its works, and the relationship between work and author forms, ideally, a cohesive entity. Unfortunately for those who enjoy the definitive categorization of work and author, such is not the case.

The challenge, however, emerges when an incongruity within this entity becomes apparent. In writing history, pieces of information (like letters with contrary ideas, for instance) are simply ignored if they do not adhere to the already established image of the author. It has been pointed out multiple times that written history cannot be taken as absolute because of what has been omitted. In trying to keep the singular image of author and work united, historians have oversimplified the author as a person. There is a split, then, between the authors as persona and the author as person that cannot be reconciled.

This problem is not antiquated; it still exists in the form described, but there are also new ways in which this problem appears. A modern manifestation of this problem is visible in celebrities today. Like authors, movie stars create a genre for themselves that associates them with certain types of productions. Katherine Heigl has been branded as a romantic comedy actress, while Vin Diesel is automatically associated with action movies. Like the author, a movie star’s genre is not associated with his or her true self, but rather with the sum of the movie star’s work. If the aforementioned stars were to trade genres, the results would not be quite as well received because of the strangeness that comes with defying the established order.

This problem becomes more complex with advances in technology. In the past, it was much easier to suppress information that does not support the author’s image. If a historian encounters a letter from a branded “progressive” that contains explicitly racist sentiments, the historian could simply omit the letter, or frame the statements in such a way that would absolve the author within his or her historical context, thus maintaining the projected ideal. However, with more and more celebrity Twitters, there are fewer chances for someone to censor the author (or celebrity, in this case) as a person. There are some merits to the ability that technology has afforded for people to express themselves without censors. For example, talent that ordinarily would not be revealed to the world could have a worldwide audience in a matter of hours. But, as is more commonly the case, ignorance can be spread with the same, if not greater, velocity. The carefully constructed persona can be shattered almost instantaneously with something as extreme as a racial slur or as simple as a poor understanding of basic grammar. Once the author is able to interact directly with his or her audience, he or she is no longer a genre or sum of works.

The author is a person.

Is being a person necessarily a bad thing? As a person myself, I am inclined to believe that humanity is not a treacherous thing. And, while it is refreshing to be reminded that the shiny people onscreen are human, part of me still wishes to uphold the sense of mystery once associated with the stars. Call me idealistic, but I like to believe that the people who are in the public eye and making fortunes deserve to be there.

Yet, despite knowing that my youthful delusions can be dashed with one tweet about rapid bowel movements, I recently joined Twitter. From an outsider’s perspective, I saw Twitter as something frivolous. People vomit up mundane tidbits about their boring lives as they happen and other people eat that shit up. Even though nothing seems super important, there is this sense of urgency behind each insipid tweet. Everyone must know that I am eating a sandwich right now. It is necessary that everyone know that my poop is taking forever.

Since joining the dark side, I’ve been able to see things a little differently, especially as a writer. Having a character limit, not even a word limit, forces me to think about what it is I want to say, and how to convey that message most efficiently. Conversely, since each tweet only consists of 140 characters or less, it’s okay if what I say isn’t profound or earth shattering. Above all, Twitter has inspired me to simplify.

I’m not sure if this is a coincidence or not, but after joining Twitter, I began to simplify my life in other respects. I stopped wearing as much makeup. I cleaned out multiple boxes’ worth of clothing from my closet and gave them away. I even thinned out my Facebook page (which is a big deal). I think I realized, subconsciously, that I am in no way qualified to make grand, sweeping statements about the meaning of life. Painting my face a certain way or draping fabric around my body isn’t going to tell people who I am, but instead will offer a projection of how I want others to perceive me. And no one page is able to tell someone about every facet of my being.

So what can I do? I can offer little snippets of myself, and hopefully someone will be able to arrange those snippets into a more complete picture. I know that I’m going to have to shit out thousands of terrible pieces before I write something truly brilliant. This piece is probably one of those shit-thousands. But it’s better that I write little things, inconsequential as they may be, than nothing at all. Unless you think that this was a total waste of time. And maybe it was. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that I’m a waste of time. Does it?

20 June 2011

what do whiskey sours taste like?

I was reading this fantastic article entitled “How To Drink Like Your Favorite Author” when, as expected, my mind wandered, though still tenuously tied to the original topic. Of course, I was thinking about how badass all of these authors were, but true to form, I steered my thoughts toward myself. I started thinking about fame. More specifically, about fame on the Internet, since that seems to be where all my efforts are focused at the moment.

Clearly, I am not an authority on fame. But I have been following several people’s trajectory toward fame on websites such as tumblr, YouTube, and general blogging sites, and I have a few thoughts.

The first step is establishing a presence. Before I started blogging, I had never written anything online before, at least not without trepidation. I rarely updated my Facebook status, never commented on any articles or videos, and used my Twitter account purely as a spectator, until I eventually deleted it after deeming it useless. But I came to terms with the fact that if I want my work to reach people, then I have to have a following. And to have a following, I have to produce some sort of content. And to have content, I have to do something. So I got over myself and started writing. But I still don’t leave very many comments, because Internet commenters can be viciously cruel towards each other. But I encourage you to comment here! I am nice and I want to hear what you have to say.

After establishing a presence, I’ve found that consistency is the key. The most successful people on the Internet crack out content daily, if not even more frequently. I used to be better at this step, but during the summer, not much happens to me, so I don’t have very many topics to discuss.

The linchpin of fame is ??? I really have no idea. Something about amassing a readership and hoping your content spreads like a cat video. I haven’t quite figured this step out yet, but I think it has to do with marketing? I don’t think I’m doing a very good job of this, seeing as my followers are primarily members of my family (who follow because they love me and are nice people).

Ah yes, and there’s the small qualification of actually being talented. I’ll let you know how that bit goes.

After all this contemplation, I have to wonder, what will people have to drink in order to drink like me, assuming that someday I may become someone’s favorite author? I guess it would have to be a White Russian, or, you know, a San Pellegrino. I can be a badass too.

08 June 2011

sleep is for the weak. or, you know, the healthy.

A conversation I had this morning with one of my favorite cousins reminded me that I have been neglecting this medium recently. Also, it makes me really happy when people don’t act surprised when they find out that I am capable of stringing words together to form coherent sentences. But that topic may be explored at a later time.

What I do want to focus on today is the neglect part of the above paragraph. I know how clichéd it is for a blogger to come back from a hiatus, mouth running with the typical “ehmagawd I’m soooo sorry but I’ve been like super busy and stuff and I was sick but I’m here now and I’m gonna be better than ever” then cease to blog, thus creating the endless cycle.

But I swear to you, I have been very busy. And I am now sick. And the previous paragraph will provide enough motivation for me to keep writing, because I am too damn proud for my own good.

Now that my disclaimer is out of the way, on with story time.

It is no secret that I am a hypochondriac. I suppose a weak immune system lends itself nicely to this little quirk of mine, as it results in minor, yet frequent ailments that feed my neuroses. The times when I find myself between ailments, I become hyperparanoid that anything out of the ordinary may or may not be the first symptom of my next ailment (never mind the fact that it is difficult to gauge what is ordinary when one is so often sick. I like to think of it as feeling nothing). And, no, self-awareness does not “cure” hypochondria. At least, not according to my personal experience, nor to the online search I just did on my phone.

So when I do actually become ill with more than the common cold, my paranoia takes on some very strange characteristics. Firstly, it is smug in that it is proven correct, even though it means that I am, in fact, sick. Secondly, and perhaps more logically, it is magnified at least tenfold.

Either in Manila or on the plane leaving Manila or from one of the airports, I managed to contract the stomach flu. I hate talking about the stomach flu, mostly because when people hear that I have it, they imagine me in a most unflattering way. But, as I am a mature adult grown-up, I will move past it. I am sick, and have been since Sunday. It happens to everyone.

Once it was established that I was so stricken, I began to freak out. I found myself wondering whether there were dietary rules that I was breaking because I was unaware of their existence, what the maximum distance between me and a restroom could be for an extended period of time, and what foods would be the least unpleasant coming up as going down.

Last night, during which I did not sleep at all, that anxiety contributed to my already weakened state. My only goal of the night was not to sully my sheets, so I focused all my energy on not moving my body, lest I upset either end. But quieting my movements did nothing to quiet my mind. I lay there, watching the sun gradually climb up my blinds like a ladder, mocking me with its cheery color. When I deemed it late enough (definitely before 7), I pawed pitifully at my mom’s bedroom door until she let me in. Once she left for work, I was finally able to feel the sweet release. No, not that kind. The sweet release of sleep.

Which is why I am posting this at about 6pm. I just woke up.

01 June 2011

things i have discovered while trying to avoid work


Procrastination can yield a multitude of things. Overwhelming feelings of frustration, restlessness, and bouts of self-criticism. But rather than focus on my shortcomings (which I have been doing for like five hours now), I will instead use this as a learning experience. Here are valuable lessons I have taken from today.

I can tie my hair in a knot and it will stay. Since my hair’s so long now, I can wind it in a bun and tuck the end under. Also, it’s really soft. Conditioner was a good investment.

I rock at mahjong. It’s probably because I’m an old woman. Or because of the saying, “Lucky in cards, unlucky in love.” That was a downer.

Taping a piece of tissue paper sprayed with baby cologne on the air conditioner gives the whole room added freshness. Unfortunately, this freshness is not conducive to my productivity. It makes me

want to sit in my chair with my eyes closed and simply breathe.

My godfather makes really really yummy French fries (Filipino fries?). I ate an entire bowlful, washed down with Four Seasons juice. My life is so hard right now.

I was a super cute baby. Legit though. Watching baby videos of myself is such a weird experience. Maybe I’ll write about it in the future. I also now know what I looked like when I pooped. And what my creepy alien voice sounded like.

Making faces at people until they notice is really fun. It’s a skill I’d like to hone in years to come. I consider myself an amateur at this point in time, but I hope to advance to a professional level. Best. Job. Ever.

31 May 2011

quick fix

Need to satiate your craving for [intelligence] but find that I haven't posted anything new? Curious about the quotidian (vocab word!) details of my life? Will you be satisfied with 140 characters or less?

Follow me on twitter here.

I promise that I won't tweet about poop.


28 May 2011

questions i don't know how to answer

I became aware that there are multiple ways to answer a question when I was in third grade. My teacher was sick, so a substitute filled in. Unfortunately, my teacher had been in the middle of reading a book aloud to the whole class, and had therefore left the substitute with the task of finishing it. When the sub asked for a volunteer to tell her what had happened thus far in the book to give her context for where were in the story, my hand shot up, practically propelling me out of my seat.

I should interrupt this story with an anecdote my mom loves to tell. When I was younger, she used to walk four miles a day and take me along with her. And I would talk to her the whole time. For those four miles, my mom would be subjected to my nonstop chatter about books I had read, juicy third-grade gossip, random thoughts that popped into my head. I would just talk and talk and talk. And she would listen, without telling me once to shut up. Or she would just tune me out. I know what I would have done.

So when the substitute asked me to tell her what had happened in the book, I thought she wanted me to tell her everything that was important to the plot (read: everything). Since the author had constructed such a delicate story, every detail was crucial, and therefore deserved to be told.

I must have talked for about twenty minutes (including reenacting all the dialogue) before the poor substitute teacher thanked me then asked someone else what had happened right before we left off.

I was heartbroken and humiliated, then realized that that was probably all she intended to hear, rather than my retelling of the entire novel. Since then, I have preferred to err on the side of too little than too much in conversation.

But back to the original point of this post. There are some questions that I just flat out don’t know how to answer. Questions like:

So what do you blog about? I’ve written on this subject before, but it still doesn’t get any easier to explain. I like to say “Nothing. But also everything.” except that I haven’t found a way to say that without feeling like a total douchebag. So, until I’ve figured that out, I’ll just resort to mumbling or changing the subject.

Are you having fun? If the person asked me whether or not I was having fun, wouldn’t it mean that something on my face conveyed otherwise? Although, my face looks bored a lot of the time, but the glazed-over look can be attributed more to me over-thinking any and all social interactions, and not necessarily to me wanting to leave. Also, even if I say that yes, I am having fun, I’m afraid that it sounds forced, especially when accompanied by a smile. Like I’m overcompensating for having a lazy face. Then, even when it isn’t a lie, it comes off as one. Likewise, “Are you excited about [whatever]?”

Do you care about the children/human rights/ animals? I hate this one. I’m walking down the street and a person with dreadlocks and a clipboard asks me a variation of this question. Saying no makes me out to be a heartless bitch. But saying yes means that I have to listen to this person stumble over some “ums” and explain the petition, culminating in asking me for a signature or some money. I even feel mean just writing that. Either way, I feel bad. I normally smile and say something along the lines of “Sorry, I’m in a rush!” then hurrying off. I still feel bad though.

You don’t have a boyfriend? Why not? The way I answer this question really depends on who asked. I might say something like “Because I don’t have time” or “Because I haven’t found anyone that I like” or something else noncommittal and vague, but a more accurate answer would be something like “Because I am too socially awkward to have a normal interaction with a guy, exacerbated by the fact that I go to a women’s college. Also, I consider man-repelling a sport. Do you want some old lady candy from the pocket of my grandpa cardigan?” It really depends on how uncomfortable I want to make the other person feel.