30 March 2011

social experiment: drunkenness and vampire fangs

*Please note that I will not be intoxicated for the duration of the social experiment. I am underage. Plus, I might end up biting myself with fangs and that would hurt.

Today’s post is a little bit different in that it will be presented in two parts. As you can probably tell by the title, I’m going to do a little social experiment. I’ve been flirting with this idea for a while, and today I have finally collected enough courage to execute it. I’m talking about wearing fangs. In public.

I should probably explain. I got the fangs for a Halloween costume, so they are customized to my mouth and look pretty realistic, if I do say so myself. This week is rush week at my school, which means that the fraternities are throwing huge parties for the new members. Being who I am, I cannot let this opportunity for social experimentation go to waste.

I plan on looking as normal as possible. Sure, I’m slightly paler than your average human being, but that can’t be helped. It can only help my cause at this point. I’m going to go out looking like this:

Pretty normal, right? But, little will people suspect that brewing under this calm exterior lay these bad boys:

I will get back to you with my findings tomorrow. Can you wait? Neither can I.

*EDIT: I will be conducting this experiment at a later time, preferably one with greater visibility and less of a chance that I will be elbowed in the face and inadvertently swallow a fang. It's for my own safety. Plus a vampire in the daylight may cause more panic.

now i am actually curious about my facial expressions during conversations

Today, my blog came up in conversation. The other person was curious about my writing compulsion, and when I mentioned that I write a little bit each day, he asked, “What do you write about?”

Despite my overwhelming urge to correct his grammar so that his question didn’t end with a preposition (an urge that, by the way, drives all my friends crazy. At this point, I wonder how I have friends), I found myself at a loss for words.

The feeling I had was unsettlingly familiar to my initial response to the prompt “How would you describe yourself?” What am I actually doing here? Does it count as comedy? Creative writing? How long can I get away with not saying anything before this situation gets awkward and he wonders what’s wrong with me? What does my face look like at this point in time?

In the end, I noncommittally mumbled something about how I don’t really write about anything, or about a lot of stuff, or something else equally vague. I couldn’t think of anything witty to say, otherwise I would have distracted him with sarcasm and steered the conversation elsewhere. Based on his confused expression, I doubt I conveyed my thoughts very eloquently at all. I justified my writing by explaining that I want to keep myself in practice, and I also enjoy doing so, and it seemed to placate his confusion. But after this exchange, I was removed from the conversation. I wonder if he noticed.

Anyways, my inability to label my writing (and in extension, myself) was confusing. True, I’m not sure how to define my often-maniacal musings. Classification is tricky, even with a mnemonic. But attempting to explain my work was, for lack of a better word, weird. Like I was giving away a part of myself that I wasn’t ready to share. It was in this moment that I realized how personal writing is for me. I mean, I knew before, but I had no idea that my sensitivity reached this extent.

Another thing I noticed was my aversion to a concrete label. As you can probably tell, I don’t really like being confined. I think that people are far too complex to be put into neat little boxes. Doing so does everyone involved a great disservice in understanding the other. In sum, oversimplification sucks.

But the distinctly American school of thought that everyone is special has heavily influenced my way of thinking. By labeling, I feel like I am somehow cheating myself and the other person with the omission of certain details. Then I remembered that not everyone thinks like me, and not everyone cares either.

I didn’t say any of these things aloud, but nevertheless, he concluded our conversation by mentioning that I would be a fascinating subject for psychoanalysis. Was it so obvious that there was a storm brewing in my head? Whatever. It has always been an aspiration of mine to be a guinea pig.

28 March 2011

next to normal


Have you ever gotten to a point in your life where you wonder whether or not you are actually crazy?

What happened to me today certainly was not quite that dramatic, but it did force me to question my ability to determine what is socially acceptable.

It happened in my cultural studies seminar. The girl that sits next to me is an acquaintance of mine, so I thought on some level she understood my neuroses. Especially considering that she lived pretty close to me my freshman year, so she has seen me in action when she visited my room.

She had forgotten to bring the reading for today’s session, so she asked to look on with me. I said yes, of course. There have been times when I forgot to print out the reading, but being too shy to inconvenience anyone else, would pretend that it was in my binder, or even pretend that I had taken copious amounts of reading notes and was editing them in class. I didn’t want someone else to suffer like that.

I moved my papers between the two of us (but still slightly closer to me, just to establish boundaries) and we both leaned in to follow along as the professor pointed out a particular passage. I should also note at this time that I print these documents with multiple pages on one printed page so that they end up looking like this:

I always feel horrible printing out fiftyish-page readings, and adjusting the images and printing double-sided helps alleviate that guilt, even though it's at the expense of my already rapidly deteriorating eyesight.

This particular reading was confusing, so my copy was mainly marked up with underlines and question marks in the margins so that I would remember to bring things up in class. Other pages were blank, simply because I wasn’t sure what exactly I should take away from those passages.

As we were following along, she turned to the next page. I already thought that was crossing the boundaries I had established, but I let it go. Mostly because I am aware of my personal space issues and I know that they are weird. But she kept turning the pages to look, superficially, at all of the pages. She then turned to me and said, “(snort of derision) Nice notes.”

In a defensive panic, I tapped my notebook and made writing gestures with my index finger, indicating that I had taken reading notes (which I had, except that they were mostly quotes of text followed by phrases of confusion). She looked unconvinced, so I put my head down and feigned being incredibly interested in the reading before me. But all I could see was the reason for my shame.

As I sat there half-listening, I started to think about the interaction. She was inconveniencing me, yet had the audacity to judge me. I mean, she didn’t even have her reading. I would never judge someone based on how annotated their readings are, and even if I were to judge someone, I certainly wouldn’t vocalize the judgment. And I have seen people write stupid stuff in the margins of their books. I bought a used book for a class in which, unbeknownst to me or I would not have bought it, someone had written “metaphor” next to every single metaphor in the novel. It drove me nuts.

Besides, I judge myself more than enough. I do not need help from other people.

But what struck me was how quickly I went into defensive mode, deciding in that split second that I had to prove myself to her. In addition, I automatically assumed a submissive position, even though I should have been in a position of power. I, after all, had the reading. Somehow, I had absorbed all the blame for what had just happened, even though I understood that she was being rude to me.

The problem, therefore was not with me at all, but lay with her. More specifically, it lay with her failure to recognize that she was being inconsiderate.

Later on during the seminar, the professor referenced an additional reading that he had assigned for extra credit. I had done it, but neglected to print it out, or even save it on my laptop. Yes, I had taken reading notes. Luckily, I had my laptop in my bag, so I took it out so I wouldn’t be lost when he mentioned specific instances.

But, to access that specific version of the reading, I had to open the email to which he had attached the document. While searching for his email, I noticed that I had an unread message in my inbox. Being easily distracted, I opened it. Then I felt that familiar discomfort. She was reading my email. I turned to her, but she was still staring intently at my screen. I tried to make eye contact, but I could see her pupils moving as she read the words that were intended for me. I said, “You’re reading my email.” She nodded. Then she said, “It’s not like it was anything private.”

I quickly closed the message, found the document I needed, then tried to make sense of what had just happened.

True, the email wasn’t necessarily private. One of my professors sent out a list of awards for which her students could apply. My classmate may have even been on the list of recipients. But I still felt violated that my classmate was so open in her disregard for my privacy, nor did she see any problem with her actions.

Now that I am removed from the situation, I can’t help but wonder whether my perception is so skewed that I interpreted everything completely wrong. The more I think about it, the more concerned I am that I have the problem. Was all the discomfort only in my head? Was the way in which she was behaving normal, but because I was the one on the receiving end, they appeared especially strange? Or, was her behavior really as appalling as I perceived it? Who is the weird one here: her or me?

27 March 2011

sometimes silence is the better option


I have heard people say that they think that their life would be drastically improved with the addition of a soundtrack. A musical narrator, if you will.

I however, think that this is a terrible idea.

Music adds drama to a given situation. I am a dramatic person by nature. I think you see where this is going.

When I am upset with someone, I tend to wait it out for a bit. I am not a confrontational person. I try to avoid conflict at all costs. However, being who I am, I need to know exactly what happened so I can move on. Some people call it closure; other people call it beating a dead horse. Either way, I like to have rational conversations after the fact. Someone once told me that I handle conflict diplomatically. He also called me a robot, so I’m not sure whether it was a compliment or not.

But this strategy is already flawed. Instead of expressing myself at the relevant time (like when I actually feel the emotions), I wait. I wait until I am as close to calm as I can be. I use this time to write out everything that’s on my mind so that I remember every detail that I think is important, and gives me a guide in case I get distracted.

It seems like rationalizing would be effective in this scenario, especially for someone like me. If only it were that simple. Seeing what I write reminds of why I was upset in the first place, which then escalates my anger. I begin to seethe, writing increasingly more volatile things as I sit fuming. I convince myself that I’m right and the other person is wrong and how could someone be so ignorant and look how I have been wronged until I snatch up my piece of paper and head over to give that person a piece of my mind.

But the momentum of that rage wears off prematurely, no matter how hard I try to keep it going. I imagine epic scenes in which I deliver grand speeches to eloquently describe why the other person is a douchebag, usually about three to five minutes in length (with copious amounts of guilt-tripping, of course). I suppose my body can only handle a certain amount of malevolence, and immediately dissolves it once it crosses that threshold.

The emotional comedown generally occurs during my walk over. My clenched fist relaxes and I glance down at the crumpled, sweaty manifesto of anger. I realize that what I have written is probably not going to ameliorate the situation. Besides, even though most of what I have written is true, I no longer have the motivation to deliver that rage-induced speech.

I re-evaluate what I have written, crossing off irrelevant points or ones with particularly colorful language, then have the aforementioned rational conversation. I manage to say everything that I need to say without worrying that I might fly off the handle at any moment.

I take extra care to hide the piece of paper beforehand. Because I don’t want the other person to think I’m weird.

Imagine the above scenario set to music. Now you know why it’s not such a good idea after all.

25 March 2011

new friends?

With this post, I will have surpassed my previous blog in terms of volume of content. In honor of achieving such a feat, I am going to write about something of great significance.

Just kidding.

As I was sitting around a table with my friends, “studying,” a horrible realization hit me out of nowhere.

These sorts of realizations smack me in the fact quite often. When lying in bed during a typical sleepless night, I’ll suddenly bolt upright with wide eyes, thinking, “I’m mortal. That means I’m going to die.” Luckily I’ve gotten fairly good at calming myself down with all these years of practice. But as a little kid I would end up panicking myself to sleep.

But back to the story. So I was sitting there laughing and chugging caffeine when it occurred to me that, next semester, I’m going to have to make new friends.

The reason I need new friends is that we are all, save for a small minority, going to be abroad next semester. Also, two of my friends will be studying at the same institution, so they don’t technically need to make new friends. Needless to say, I am ridiculously jealous.

The problem isn’t with the act of making friends. As shocking as it may seem, I can pretend to be normal long enough to ensnare someone in my trap of friendship. Besides, no one is actually normal, so it’s really just a matter of time before the other person cracks too.

The problem is with learning a new language.

With friendship comes a slew of vocabulary that makes sense to only us. There are certain phrases tied to events or inside jokes. These things become so ingrained in our collective lexicon that we draw upon them without thinking twice. It is only in talking to other people that we realize just how pervasive our language is.

And the thought of having to learn a new one is terrifying.

*Of course, I’ll miss my friends too. That goes without saying.

24 March 2011

the game

As you may or may not know by now, people-watching is one of my favorite activities. As I am more comfortable observing than acting in social situations, I suppose this fascination makes sense. I appreciate the everyday interactions, and I love analyzing the larger implications of such interactions. But what entertains me most is observing people’s methods of extracting themselves from potential awkwardness.

I can assure you that my analysis is not mean-spirited. In fact, I take these golden moments of humanity as opportunities to learn from others—to determine what does and does not work.

Take, for instance, a classic example of highly visible embarrassment. The homecoming football game at my college is the only sporting event I ever attend. I’m not exactly interested in football, but I feel obligated to support my school at least once a year. Besides, large sporting events are fascinating. Emotions are high, and the entire stadium is buzzing with the prospect of public humiliation. Or maybe that’s just me.

One year, as expected, there were a bunch of shirtless guys in the front of the stands, torsos painted with the letters of the mascot. Typical bros. They were obviously intoxicated, and waaay too into the game. Of course, where there are bros, there are gaggles of giggling girls. One particular gaggle consisted of several girls wearing team paraphernalia and short skirts. Probably not the most practical outfits to wear to a sporting event (who knows what has come into contact with the bleachers). After flirting with the guys, who suddenly were not as interested in the game, they began to couple off and have individual conversations. As expected, there was plenty of hair touching and plenty of shoulder shoving.

One couple seemed in especially high spirits. The girl then decided that she wanted a piggyback ride, so she hopped up on his back. Unfortunately for her, he was too inebriated to provide a stable base, so she quickly met the ground with her face.

Keep in mind that she ate it in front of an entire section of the bleachers.

But, instead of getting upset or dying of embarrassment, she got up and pretended that nothing had happened. Of course, she was not very convincing in her charade, especially since she knew that everyone had seen, but she did her best to ignore that we had all seen up her skirt.

Was her coping mechanism an effective diversion? Considering the vividness with which I remember the event, probably not. Her total disregard for what happened struck me as extremely odd, and intrigued me to the point where I continued to watch her after she walked away, curious to see whether she would break character to one of her friends and express her true feelings. But she never did, which made me uncomfortable. Or maybe those were her true feelings. There’s no way for me to ever know.

But when I think about how I would have behaved were I ever to be in such a situation, I doubt I would have done something different. Is there a way to gracefully handle oneself after experiencing something like that?

I suppose one can take preemptive measure and not ask a drunk shirtless guy for a piggyback ride. But taking such extreme precautions may be unreasonable.

22 March 2011


I have an uncontrollable itch. It is located at the top of my left foot at the base of my third and fourth toes. And it is driving me nuts.

Currently, I am in a class that lasts for two hours and forty-five minutes. We’ve just passed the one hour mark. Because of where I am sitting, it will be extremely visible if I take off my shoe to scratch my foot, not just to my professor (who probably already thinks I am strange) but to the majority of my classmates as well. Subtlety is not an option. Plus, my ankle boot is fastened with a buckle, and I am way too lazy to unbuckle it.

It’s okay. I can handle it. Poker face. I wiggle my toes to try to create some sort of friction between my skin and my sock, but to no avail. The itch persists. It heightens. Mocking me and my desire to follow social conventions whilst in the company of strangers. Propriety is ruining my life.

I step on my left foot with my right, digging my heel into the top of my foot. Hoping that the pain will distract from the unbearable itch. It helps a little, but once I return my right foot to its place on the floor, the itching returns. I contemplate keeping my heel jammed into the itchy area, but my right leg is getting fatigued. The flexion is beginning to make my right leg tremble. Plus, my left foot is starting to hurt. A lot. My poker face is wavering and I wince, then shift position once more.

At this point, I realize that my fidgety leg movements may be misconstrued as the uncomfortable shifting of someone who needs to pee. I do not need to pee. I just need to scratch my foot.

I need to pee.

Well, there goes any concentration I may have still had. I sit and wait for the break (we usually break at an hour and thirty minutes). Once the professor dismisses us, I rush to the bathroom. Then I buy coffee.

Class resumes. I sit down.

My foot itches.


Ah yes, the all-nighter. I am quite certain that everyone who has ever been a student is familiar with this concept. All-nighters tend to happen when the person has procrastinated to the point where the person in question has deluded him or herself into thinking that he or she possess superhuman abilities, and therefore will be able to finish an assignment before the deadline despite not having made any progress on that project thus far.

To clarify, by “all-nighter,” I mean a legitimate all-nighter. As in no sleep for the entire night. I’m not talking when people complain to me saying, “Yeah, I pulled an all-nighter last night. I went to bed at like 2.” That is not an all-nighter. That is going to bed slightly later than normal. Actually, for me, that is a pretty decent hour to sleep.

I have never pulled an all-nighter on purpose.

Sure, I procrastinate. I enjoy putting off work like any other normal person. But it has never gotten to the point where I absolutely have to stay up for an entire night to complete an assignment on time. I don’t think my neurotic tendencies would tolerate that sort of pressure.

I pull all-nighters for absolutely no reason. They just sort of happen. I’ll lie in bed, thinking (as I am wont to do), when suddenly an idea will pop into my head that I will absolutely have to carry out. Sometimes it’s a compulsion to paint my nails. Sometimes I’ll really need to pee. But, more often than not, it will be an urge to write.

If the first thought that pops into my head is something mundane, I’ll do it, then race back to the warmth of my bed to think some more. Then I’ll decide that, since I’m up, I should probably do something productive (as if painting my nails isn’t productive enough).

At that point, I’ll reach over to my laptop and open it, blinding myself temporarily with the stark whiteness of a blank word document. Maybe I’ll have a topic in mind. But, to be honest, I probably won’t. So I’ll stare for a while, maybe type a few odd phrases. If this is a good night, I’ll be overcome with inspiration and write for hours. However, good nights are rare, so I’ll most likely be overwhelmed and will decide to take a break for a couple of minutes. I deserve it. I’ve worked hard. I’ll look for blogs to read or TV shows to watch. Or, I’ll google a topic about which I know very little, and somehow get sucked into Wikipedia, clicking links until I have no recollection of how my starting point of Wassily Kandinsky connected to my end point of Gossip Girl.

Minutes turn into hours and before I know it I’ve wasted perfectly good sleep time doing nothing. I suppose I could go to sleep at this point, but I’ve got class in a few hours and I know that if I sleep now, I could run the risk of oversleeping. Instead, I spend some more time exploring the internet, maybe typing a little bit intermittently so I feel like I’ve accomplished something.

It takes a special type of person to lie awake in bed all night without caffeine and no reason to be awake.

I think they’re called insomniacs.

21 March 2011

would ten minutes be excessive?

I am a creature of habit. I always order the same drink from my school’s coffee shop. I take the exact same route to each of my classes, down the way in which I swing ever so slightly on the handrail in the stairwell in my dorm. I even have a chosen toilet and shower stall in my dorm bathroom that I always use.

But none of these neuroses are as significant as where I sit in a classroom. On the first day of classes, I select my seat very carefully. Where I sit is crucial to my behavior in class—it determines how rapt with attention I am. If the chairs are arranged in rows, I generally choose a seat near the middle in the third row. If the chairs are arranged in a circle, I’ll pick one directly opposite the professor. If the chairs are arranged in a square, I will sit on the side opposite the professor, but closer to the corner closest to the door. I’m not sure why I am compelled to pick these seats, but once I have chosen, my seat will remain my seat until the end of the semester. I even get to class exactly seven minutes early to make sure I get my seat.

This systems works well if there are other creatures of habit in my class. We understand each other, and therefore we do not deviate from the established order.

The trouble only begins when there is a person who likes to “switch things up.” As you can probably tell, I am not one of those people. I tend not to like people like that. They make me uncomfortable with their unpredictability. But, at the same time, I am not a confrontational person. So, when I see someone else sitting in my seat, I panic a little. That is my seat. I need to sit there. But my desire to appear normal to strangers always trumps my desire to sit in my chosen seat. Despite the inner turmoil, I sit somewhere else without causing a fuss.

At this point, if the crazy spontaneous person is decent, he or she will probably say something along the lines of, “Sorry I took your seat! Do you want me to move?” And I will always say no, because I don’t want that person to think that I am crazy. I smile sheepishly and shake my head, then select an inferior seat.

The ordeal does not stop there. Because I have been displaced, I in turn have to displace someone else. I have to inflict upon someone else the agony that I am experiencing. I absolutely hate being put in that position. I feel like such an asshole.

But I do it because I don’t want to make a scene, or make anyone uncomfortable. So I overcompensate by putting all the discomfort on myself. Luckily, since I understand that my thought process is not normal, I’m used to confining a flurry of activity to my mind while keeping a straight face.

Then I resolve to arrive at least eight minutes early next time.

20 March 2011

[wo]man in the mirror

I am not going to deny it any longer. Like most people, I am extremely vain. I like to take care of myself and make sure I am presentable. I don’t think that’s unreasonable. It just doesn’t make sense to go out looking like crap. There’s no way of knowing whom you may run into or what may happen during the day. Besides, walking out the front door with mascara running down my face and my skirt tucked up into my underwear is not something I am trying to do.

But there is a phenomenon inextricably tied with vanity: mirror face. We all do it. And it is always hilarious to watch.

For those of you not familiar with mirror face, I will do my best to explain. I have always been vaguely aware of this phenomenon, but my awareness has been heightened since attending a women’s college.

Next time someone is getting ready to go out, or if you are getting ready and are extremely self-aware, pay attention. You can be as creepy as you want during this step, but I have found that observing people is most efficient when the subject is unaware of your probing eyes. That last sentence sounded more normal in my head, but since I have already typed it out, I might as well leave it in. Plus, the advice is sound, despite its stalker-y intentions.

Anyways, from what I have observed, people have a very specific face that they make when judging their own appearance in the mirror. The look varies from person to person, but the objective is always the same: to position one’s face in what they perceive to be their most attractive expression. Some will tilt their chin down. Others will squint ever so slightly. Still others will engage in duckface, simultaneously pursing and pouting their lips. Gets me every time.

Of course, I am not innocent of this crime. I raise my left eyebrow and tilt my chin diagonally down and to the right. No, I cannot explain why I make that face. But mirror face is an intrinsic characteristic in people determined by instinct, not logic. It's science.

See also: photo face, thinking face, singing face, and flirting face

I foresee a social experiment in my future.

19 March 2011

the vault

I was a very impressionable child. I would pick up mannerisms from television and movies that I watched. In fact, I learned my first expletive (fuck, of course) from Jerry Maguire when I was about 3. While my sister was giving me a shower, I asked her to, “Give me the shampoo, you fucking sister.” Clearly my comprehension of the word was not up to par, but I think I grasped the meaning of the word, as well as how to string words together to form sentences, as time went on.

As I grew up, I thought of my head as a vault. Everything that I had ever seen would be stored in this vault, and consequently would influence any future thought I would have. It seems like this concept was highly philosophical for a child, but my logic was not always correct. Perhaps because I had not lived long enough, or perhaps because I didn’t understand how much sensory information I would gather in a lifetime, I thought every memory would be permanently stored, and it would be amazing.

I didn’t think that keeping memories forever would be such a bad thing. At least, not at first. But then, one fateful day in second grade, recess was canceled because it was raining outside. Instead of allowing us to play independently in the classroom, the teacher decided that our time would be better spent if we all watched a movie as a class.

I was already bitter because I wanted to play on the monkey bars, and the situation was further exacerbated when I was told that I could not draw by myself in the corner. As I sulked in my chair, waiting for the movie to begin, I remember thinking that this movie better be worth it.

The movie was part of R.L. Stein’s Goosebumps series. The father turns into a carnivorous plant in the basement and tries to eat his whole family. Needless to say, it was terrifying (little did I know my mom would show me Carrie about a year later because she thought it would be funny). I watched with wide eyes, my body frozen in horrified fascination. When I went home that day, I was even more paranoid than normal. My senses were heightened to a frightening degree to the point where I would assume a fighting position at the slightest rustle.

When I showered that night, I was so petrified that I kept my back to the wall so that nothing could sneak up on me. All of a sudden, I burst into tears. I convinced myself that I would never be normal again because I would always carry this fear with me. The terror was now an indelible mark in my subconscious that no amount of Disney could erase. With that knowledge, I became extremely depressed.

A couple days later, I returned to being happy. When I processed that I was happy, I remembered that I had been unhappy. And then I remembered why. At that point, I was certain that I would live in fear for the rest of my life. It didn’t matter that my house didn’t have a basement. It didn’t matter that no one in my family cared about botany. All I knew was that a giant plant could eat me at any moment.

But what scared me the most was that I could never escape the memory of the movie. I would have to live like this forever. I would be a paranoid freak for the rest of my life.

I don’t remember when I stopped living in constant fear of plant people. I suppose I found something else upon which I could fixate, and therefore could not dedicate all my time to that paranoia. But, even in the years following, whenever I would remember the movie, the familiar terror would come over me again. It wouldn’t last long, but these bouts reminded me that I would never be able to forget anything.

Luckily, I have grown up since then. I am fully capable of forgetting things now at my ripe old age. But one thing that I will never forget is the sheer terror I experienced when I thought that I would never be normal again. Turns out, that fear was justified.

18 March 2011

remember, remember

There are certain pieces of semi-useless knowledge that have stuck with me through the years. These nuggets of wisdom are more often than not attached to a mnemonic.

First of all, the way mnemonic is spelled just looks wrong. If there were a mnemonic to remind me how to spell mnemonic, I would use it endlessly.

That’s a lie. I don’t think I’ve ever typed the word mnemonic before writing this post, and I don’t think I will again. But it would be nice to know how to spell mnemonic for future reference.

Yes, I realize that the purpose of a mnemonic is to aid in remembering something. But the reason people need mnemonics in the first place is because the thing that they are trying to remember isn’t memorable. And with good reason. Usually that information isn’t worth shit.

In physics, we had to remember the difference between volts and amperes while studying electricity. What is the difference scientifically? I have no idea. Something about currents? But I do know that it’s the volts that jolt and the mills that kill. In other words, while voltage may shock a person, the amps (milliamperes, in keeping with the mnemonic) are what will do the most damage.

I admit now that I am not perfect. Sometimes I mistype. Sometimes (gasp) I even forget how to spell words correctly, but thanks to I before E except after C, I will never misspell receive or achieve. I will even remember to make the exception for neighbor and reign.

But, there is another spelling mnemonic that I use quite frequently. I’m not sure why, but at this point I’m not even surprised anymore, but I use the word schadenfreude with alarming frequency. For those of you who are not familiar with the concept, it entails deriving happiness from seeing another person suffer. Yes, this lovely word finds its way into my conversations. I’m not sure what that tells you about me. Anyways, to remember the correct spelling of this etymological gem, I think of the musical, Avenue Q. At the end of one song, incidentally entitled “Schadenfreude,” a character (Gary Coleman), spells schadenfreude, but with rhythm and intonation: S-C-H-A-D-E-N-F-R-E-U-D-E! Whenever I am unsure about how to spell it, I sing it in my head. Or out loud, depending on my company.

Of course, mnemonics are applicable in mathematics as well. When I was an elementary school student, I had issues. Call me a huge nerd, but I had issues staying interested in the material for the duration of the time we were studying the topic at hand. I’d learn the topic, then get bored and antsy until we moved on to something new. I would finish my homework on the car ride home, which of course made my mom incredibly happy because she would have to deal with a Kayla with a bunch of free time. She asked my teacher to assign me extra homework, but I would finish two weeks’ worth of reading in one night.

But, of course, I have my weaknesses. As my fourth grade teacher discovered, it’s rapid-fire mathematics. Every Wednesday after recess, we would enter the classroom to find a sheet of paper face down on each of our desks. After we turned the papers over, we would have exactly one minute to answer as many multiplication problems as we could. All of a sudden, I wasn’t the first in the class. I was second. I figured now was as good a time as any to give up. There was no way I could catch up. I could fill out a map of the United States, complete with capital cities, in less than ten minutes. I could rattle off every president in order. I could color like a boss. But those damn tests had me stumped.

I mean, I knew the answers. But the pressure from the timer and the knowledge that someone was better than me (even though it was marginally so) freaked me out. So I taught myself mnemonics that were tailored specifically to me. They probably don’t make sense to anyone. But I grouped the multipliers and their product together by forming associations. I can’t even put them into words in an eloquent way. The only one that makes logical sense is 7x8. The answer is 56 because, sequentially, the number line follows 5678.

Perhaps my favorite mnemonic is one that literally contributes nothing to my academic career at the present. When I was in high school I was really into taking honors and AP classes (big surprise). I took AP Biology because I legitimately thought that I would pursue a degree in bio in college. Granted, I still had no idea what I wanted to do with myself after graduation, but I thought that going into biology would afford me many opportunities. Then, when I remembered that writing has always been my dream, I realized that I did not want to be a science major. But that story is for another time.

Anyways, the AP asks that students remember a lot of details about classification of organisms via the categories of kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, and species. The categories start extremely broad and narrow in specificity. In that sense, the procession is important. To remember the categories, my teacher threw out a few mnemonics: kids playing catch on freeways get squished, kings play chess on fat green stools, kids prefer cheese over fried green spinach. But the one mnemonic that will stick with me forever? King Phillip called out for great sex.

What has this trip down memory lane taught me? Elementary school nerds grow up to be well-adjusted, mature adults.

word generator

Today’s experiment is brought to you by a word generator. Correction. Today’s experiment would have been brought to you by a word generator. Instead, it is brought to you, yet again, by my neuroses.

Another blogger wrote that she uses one when she’s in a rut and in dire need of inspiration. She’ll see a word that reminds her of a story or inspires her to write a new one, and from there, she’ll take off. I’m not going to concede and say that I am in a rut. But I will admit that I was curious and didn’t see the harm in trying something new.

Ideally, I would have used the word generator to come up with a subject for today’s post. The first word that came up would have reminded me about a funny story or a quirk and I would write furiously. Instead, I sat at my laptop, clicking aimlessly on the “new word” button until I realized that I would never be satisfied. I was looking for something perfect, and “sweat,” “police,” and “cow” just weren’t cutting it for me.

So here I am. The only thing the word generator has generated for me is frustration. I suppose I could analyze why the word generator irked me so (something about unrealistic standards or apprehension about depending on external entities for things I should be able to do by myself).

I could, but instead, I’m going to blame the word generator.

17 March 2011


Lately, something has been bugging me. I’m not sure why this trend has become popular. But whatever the case may be, this trend needs to stop. Maybe I need to find new things to read, or new sources of reading material (aka stuff that isn’t pretentious).

I’m talking about you.

No, not you specifically. I’m talking about the use of “you,” the second person subject, as the point of view in fiction. I indulge in literary blogs, and more often than not, the entries are written in second person. I’m not saying this style of writing is stupid, per se. I understand its appeal. By having “you” as the subject of a story, the reader is inextricably tied to the author. The reader experiences the action of the plot with an intensity that is hard to achieve otherwise. The reader is literally in the story.

True to form, I can’t stand it. I can appreciate the narrative structure from an academic standpoint. It’s cool. It binds the reader to Sartre’s notion that the writer and reader are part of an unspeakable pact in which both parties must be active participants. But as a reader, I don’t like to be told what to do in such an explicit way. I like to observe, either from the narrator’s perspective or as a completely external entity. I’m okay with being led around. I will actively follow the plot with an open mind and curious temperament. But once an author tells me that I walk through a door with a beer in hand at some party, I resist. I don’t even drink beer. And why would I attend a party that seems to be filled with hipsters? Not interested. I’m leaving. I don’t like being told how to think and act. Instead of being engrossed in the story, I feel even more alienated.

These stories tend to be really unique. The experiences are obviously taken from a specific point of view, often with a very distinctive voice. Why wouldn’t the writer take ownership of the story and place his or her self, or even a character of his or her own creation, into it? The story would be so much more effective if told with conviction, rather than having the story unfold as the reader is trying to figure out what the hell is going on. Why would a writer place so much responsibility on a reader? How would the writer know that the reader would uphold his or her part of the pact?

Maybe I’m just reading way too deep into this whole “you” thing. But I am taking responsibility for my opinions. I am active. And I know that I overanalyze things about which most people wouldn’t give a second thought.

You sit at your computer, shaking your head while thinking, “Man, this girl is crazy. No wonder she’s writing, alone, in the middle of the night. She should find a hobby. Or a boyfriend.”

16 March 2011

a social experiment: eye contact

Today, on a whim, I decided to conduct a social experiment, because academia is seriously lacking in the whimsy department. This subject of this study is not exactly serious either. It was just a chance for me to quell a curiosity I have had for a while. Also, it gave me the chance to be a creeper.

I have nothing against big cities. I grew up in one, I'm studying abroad in one, and I'm planning to live in one permanently after graduation. With that said, I do think that life in a big city has contributed to my paranoia. When I see someone sitting on a sidewalk, I instinctively look away. I don't engage easily in conversations with strangers, and I most certainly don't permit people I don't know very well to come into contact with anything on my person, let alone my body.

While I was wandering around downtown today, I was thinking about public transportation. More specifically, I was thinking about the way in which most people behave. Even though a high concentration of people are in a confined space with very limited sources of visual interest, people's eyes (mine included) wander nonetheless. Perhaps these people are bored and are seeking something at which to look to pass the time. Maybe they find the map of subway routes fascinating. But the bottom line is that people avoid eye contact. It's funny to me how much effort people take to make sure that they don't lock eyes with a stranger. So, true to form, my curiosity got the better of me and I decided to see what would happen if I tried to make eye contact with as many people as possible.

Rather than ride bart aimlessly for hours (and also because I didn't want to pay for this experiment), I walked around San Francisco with a purpose: to observe people's response to my attempts to make eye contact. There was an inherent flaw in this plan: there are so many visual stimuli in a city--store windows, street signs, crazy people--that aren't there in a crowded subway car, but I wanted to try anyways. Besides, it's not like I am a scientist.

I started my journey in the financial district, hugging Chinatown before heading over to tourist central: Westfield Shopping Centre.

At the beginning, it was challenging for me to even conduct my side of the experiment. I hadn't realized how ingrained this behavior was until I actively tried to break it. I felt vaguely voyeuristic, even though I can assure you I was only trying to make EYE contact. After I got over myself, I started participating for real.

To avoid bitchface, I made sure to keep the eyes soft and my mouth in a pleasant smile, not a soulless frown or a maniacal grin. I didn't want anyone to think I was challenging them, nor did I want them to think I was undressing them with my mind. Or plotting their bloody murder. I was just trying to be friendly.

For the most part, the experiment went as expected. The vast majority of people kept eyes their fixed straight ahead, regardless of the fact that both of us knew that I was staring. It's not like ignoring me would make me stop. In fact, in these instances, I stared harder, often slowing down so I could prolong the awkward.

Other people acknowledged that I was staring by (intentionally or not) darting their eyes to lock with mine, then quickly shifting their eyes back to a forward position. I could sense a lot of nervousness with the rapid eye movements, and a lot of people gave me awkward shrugs before snapping their eyes back to their previous position.

Others met my probing eyes and returned my smile, often accompanied by a slight nod or a vocalized greeting. These cases were mostly men and women in business suits, and it was pretty easy to tell that they were natives. My favorite case was an old man who tilted his fedora at me. Where are all the classy guys my age?

Still others looked at me like I was crazy and/or ready to pounce at any moment. I am by no means a threatening person. I am five foot three, weighing in at a whopping 115 pounds. I don't exactly have the physique of a person who could mug another person. Also, I had a latte in one hand and my purse in the other, so even if I wanted to start a fight, I would have to find a place to put down all my stuff, and that would take a while because there is no way in hell anything but the soles of my shoes would touch the sidewalk. Regardless of these facts, I was met with a lot of fear. Even though I made sure I looked as nonthreatening as possible, some people, mostly tourists, stared at my face with widened eyes and looked like they were holding their breath. Sometimes they would take active measures to increase their distance from me. Because someone like me could do a lot of damage.

I was surprised to find that natives were more receptive to my experiment than tourists. I suppose people from here are used to antics of random people on the street. Just today, I tried to make eye contact with a man wearing a medical gown who was singing and skipping down Powell, but he didn't make eye contact with me. I get the sense he was a little preoccupied with his own affairs.

Also, the tourists were probably already antsy about being in a big city, as evidenced by them clutching their bags to their chests or holding hands with everyone in their party, so I doubt a creepy girl smiling at them would do much to ease their anxiety.

So what did I learn from this experiment? Actively making eye contact with strangers is hard. Making people uncomfortable (to a certain degree) is fun. Chai lattes are delicious.

On the train ride home, there weren't enough seats for my mom, my sister and me to all sit comfortably. So, I sat on my sister's lap. An old man sitting across from us smiled and sighed, "That's nice." Needless to say, I stood immediately and avoided eye contact with him until he left.

15 March 2011

thoughts from a place: home (more specifically, the dining room)

During breaks, I can go an entire day without saying a word. Today is no such day because I called my mom to ask if anything in the fridge was off-limits for me to eat (nothing was). But I have definitely had days like that before. What strikes me is how easy it is. If I lived alone, I would probably never speak. Save for whatever album I happened to be obsessed with at the time, I would live in silence.

When I remain silent for extended periods of time, I start to worry whether or not I would be able to speak normally when the need for such action arises. I know that this anxiety is completely unfounded, but I can’t help but wonder.

Strangely enough, I never break the silence on purpose. Even though I am worried, I don’t test my abilities. It always happens by accident. I will become so enmeshed in my thoughts that hearing the words in my head will not be enough. I close my eyes and visualize them. Even that is not sufficient. I mouth them, then progress to a whisper. Before I realize it, I have ruined the pristine silence. The words flow out of my mouth like a tap, and suddenly my head is no longer overflowing.

Or someone will call my cell phone and I’ll answer.

14 March 2011


At this point, I’m not sure whether I am qualified to make assumptions that everyone in the world thinks like me.

But rather than dwell on the potential isolation I face when I realize that no one will love me because I am a crazy person, I will try to explain myself. If I can write logically about an illogical subject, maybe I can convince others that the way in which I think is completely normal. Except, now that I’ve revealed my crafty little plan, it is no longer crafty. Disregard what you have just read.

I have writer’s block.

Having writer’s block is completely normal. Show me a writer who has never experienced writer’s block and I will show you…well, I’ll show you all the literature that person has been able to produce.

I try to keep my idiosyncrasies under wraps, especially when I am around people I don’t know very well, or when I’m around a lot of people in general. But, when I’m alone and my creativity is stunted, then I can offer you no such guarantees.

One of my writing professors told me that a foolproof way to bust through a stage of writer’s block is to type random letters. The act of typing stimulates the writing portion of the brain and, eventually, ideas will flow forth. I’m not saying that this method is a complete fallacy, but it has never worked for me. In fact, it hasn’t worked for anyone I’ve spoken to besides that professor. To each her own I suppose. I am in no position to judge.

The first step I take to alleviate writer’s block is to put on my glasses if they are not already on my face. Glasses make you smarter. It’s science.

Next, I change my soundtrack. I always write to music, and when I hit a wall, I like to blame it on outside forces first. The reason I can’t find any words is because these lyrics are shite. At this point, I will usually switch to classical or Sigur Rós. Sexy European wooing noises. God bless Iceland.

Then, I decide to change locales. I’m a fidgety person in general, so I tend to become restless fairly easily. If I come to a halt at my desk, I transplant my workstation to my bed. Or the couch. Or the floor. Or one of my friends’ rooms. If the blockage is serious, I’ll go to the living room in my dorm. If it is catastrophic, I’ll head to the library.

If none of these external remedies help, I know that the writer’s block is serious and I need to make some additional changes. So I drink caffeine. My go-to source is sugar-free Red Bull. It tastes like ass and gives me the shakes, but it gives me the sense of urgency that I need to propel myself forward. If I don’t have any of that miracle (ha) elixir, then I’ll buy a coke from the vending machine downstairs and call it a day. Note, the mere act of walking downstairs often ameliorates the situation because of a change in scenery.

If the caffeine doesn’t work, then I try to be productive in other aspects of my life. I’ll do my laundry, my dishes (sometimes even my roommate’s dishes), and tidy up in general. That way, at least I can say that I managed to complete something. However, doing these tasks is not a guaranteed method in conquering writer’s block.

When I get to this point in frustration, I think about Sarah Jessica Parker.

Just kidding. I think about Carrie Bradshaw. Maybe I watched too many reruns of Sex and the City during my formative years. I wonder if I can attribute my affinity for puns and couture to that show. Whatever the case, when I am deep into writer's block, I recall images of Carrie, typing with the light of her laptop screen illuminating her contemplative face. Sometimes her brow is furrowed. Sometimes her mouth is twisted in an I-know-I-am-being-clever half-smirk. She can write, I tell myself, so I can too. I wind my hair into a messy topknot. Of course I am pantsless. But I pile on layers of rings and necklaces over whatever comic book or band shirt I happen to be wearing at the time. I sit, cross-legged, on my bed. Or, if I was already on my bed, I’ll sit at my desk with my knees pulled up to my chest. I type the phrase “I couldn’t help but wonder…” and imagine my voice reading what I have written thus far over a montage of me typing, pacing my apartment filled with clothes that seem unreasonably expensive for a newspaper columnist.

And then I write.

13 March 2011


I firmly believe that if my personality differed slightly, my academic interests would be completely different. I am a humanities major, which entails an interdisciplinary study of culture. Culture isn’t just what people produce (art, literature, music, architecture, etc.), but the way of life that makes the production possible. While it sounds daunting, I think it fits me. First and foremost, if I didn’t like to read and write as much as I do, then I would be screwed. Or a science major. But, as a result of studying culture, a strange phenomenon has occurred.

My major has turned everyone, including myself, into experiments.

I can’t help it, but I find myself analyzing conversations before I can stop myself. Sometimes, when talking to my friends, I take an awkward amount of time to respond because I am testing ways in which I could steer the conversation in my head and what those different paths could potentially tell me. Reality TV has become a nightmare, and not in the way that most people mean it. For me, Jersey Shore overloads my processing capabilities to the point where I often find myself reaching for a pen and notebook so I can take notes.

But, the worst part of my studies being inextricably linked to my life lies in my self-analysis. I am my most available subject, and a willing victim.

One trait of mine that has been honed in my academic pursuits is my tendency to draw connections between seemingly unrelated things. While finding connections can be endlessly entertaining, I have found that looking at the contradictions can often provide even more telling information.

I am by no means faint of heart. I watch horror movies on a regular basis and often find myself laughing at the gratuitous gore and horrible production quality. When I was four, my inner thigh somehow got caught in a bike chain and was bleeding everywhere and I had the presence of mind to clean and bandage myself.

I have a sick fascination with abomination. Over winter break I had knee surgery. While the bandages were still on, the anticipation of removing them was killing me. I was so curious to see how it looked, felt, and even smelled. I became fixated on my knee, counting down the days until my doctor’s appointment. When they were finally removed, I could not stop poking the stitches, noting how a light tap made my entire knee tingle. I studied the way in which my skin accommodated the new scar tissue when my leg was straightened or bent. Plus, the incision was such a strange color. A combination of yellow, brown, and purple that I had never seen in nature. It was so awesome, but of course I couldn’t tell anyone how amazing I thought it was. I know that people think I’m morbid enough as it is.

With that said, I am not a woman without contradictions. While typically scary things do not faze me, I am frightened by insignificant scares. When I am engrossed in my reading (or playing Tetris), the world around me melts away. When a reminder that the outside world still exists, like the sound of my phone buzzing upon receiving a text message, I can’t help but let out a tiny scream. Obviously, I try to muffle it, even if no one else is around, but a scream escapes nonetheless.

No matter how hard I try, the toaster will always get the best of me. There is an indicator on the knob that says how much time is left. I stand, staring, in front of the toaster, fully aware that the appliance will ding within the next ten seconds. I can see the timer count down. I know exactly what’s going to happen. Doesn’t matter. I jump every time, without fail.

So, from an academic standpoint, what does this incongruity tell me? It tells me that I would probably survive a zombie apocalypse. I would be that badass that wouldn’t be afraid to shoot a few heads off or run around with a machete. But if someone so much as sneezed behind me, I would probably pass out. Or shoot myself in the foot.

11 March 2011

challenge accepted

Today is the first day of spring break. In honor of this momentous occasion, I have decided to give you yet another peek into my crazed psyche. Yes, to celebrate my pseudo-vacation from work (I still have tons of homework), I will write. Sometimes I worry even myself.

In keeping with the theme of this post, I am going to talk about packing. Packing seems like the kind of activity I would enjoy. It involves planning, thinking logically, and making lists. But rational behavior on my part would be too easy.

Packing turns this neurotic young woman into a crazed competitor.

When packing, of course I begin by thinking practically. I know that I will be somewhere for a certain amount of time under certain weather conditions. My brain can process these facts.

However, once I have established these concrete things, my mind begins to wander. As I start to set aside items that I know I will need, this feeling of inadequacy takes over. I feel threatened.

I’m not saying that I have an insufficient amount of clothing. I am blessed with more than enough clothing to keep me warm and decent (except for when I’m at home. then all bets are off). But, when I pack, I feel like I need to prove myself somehow, either to the people I am going to see or even to the location itself. Because obviously Palm Springs will judge me if I forget to bring a pencil skirt.

So, as expected, things get out of control. I reach for items that I haven’t worn in a while with the hope that their resurrection would make my wardrobe revolutionary once more. I put together ensembles that I think will shatter the way other people perceive clothes. I need to prove that I am creative. No. I need to prove that I am the most creative person ever. My suitcase becomes inexplicably filled with crap that I probably won’t even wear. I recognize that I am being ridiculous, but I can’t seem to edit myself.

As I was packing for this trip, I had to keep reminding myself that no one was challenging me. I think I packed the appropriate amount of stuff for the week, but at this point in my life I’m not even sure that I am a reliable judge of appropriateness. I figure, as long as I can lift my suitcase, it’s probably okay.

This is why I can never work out. Recalibrating the way in which I judge my luggage would require way too much effort.

higher power

I’m not superstitious, but sometimes I feel like the universe is trying to tell me something.

About two weeks ago, I had to send some paperwork to my study abroad program to let them know that I am planning to attend, as well as give them information about my entire life thus far. I double-checked that everything was filled out, signed, and answered (including the dreaded question: How would you describe yourself?). Yes, everything was completed, so I sealed the envelope, and, with butterflies in my stomach, dropped the envelope into the outgoing mail bin in my school’s mailroom.

Just as a quick sidebar, I always get butterflies in my stomach when I send mail. I think the potential for everything to go horribly wrong freaks me out. Also, the fact that the outcome of this event is completely out of my hands terrifies me. And rightly so.

After I sent the paperwork, I forgot about it. I figured I had done everything I could, and since the postmark would indicate that I had met the deadline, I thought I could relax.

I sent these papers out on a Monday. On the Friday of that week, I received a curious text message from one of my friends while I was at work. Apparently, the envelope containing my paperwork had somehow ended up in her mailbox. Being who I am, I took the news calmly and continued writing.

Just kidding. I freaked the fuck out.

After apologizing profusely to my friend for no logical reason, I thanked her for re-sending my envelope while making a mental note to buy her an extra nice birthday present next year. Then, I hastily emailed my study abroad program to explain the situation, again apologizing profusely and assuring them that I was still interested in attending.

I spent the weekend waiting with bated breath for their reply.

On Monday, probably sensing how frantic I had been, my study abroad program assured me that they had not given away my spot. Also, it didn’t matter when my paperwork arrived, as long as it arrived. And with that, I forgot about it again.

Imagine my surprise when, on Wednesday, I found a suspicious envelope peeking at me through the window in my mailbox. Upon closer inspection, I realized that the envelope contained my paperwork. Well, despite the initial shock of the matter, I maintained my composure and collected the rest of my mail.

Got you again. Of course I panicked.

Why was this happening to me? Does the universe want me to stay put this badly? Instead of wallowing in self-pity, I re-mailed the envelope.

I’m not taking this harrowing turn of events as a sign that I shouldn’t study abroad because I’ve heard superstitious people say that bad things happen in threes. My envelope has only been returned twice.

On a related note, Fate, if you’re reading this, please know that I am not trying to tempt you. Return to your regularly scheduled program. P.S. you’re looking fabulous.

10 March 2011

rebel with a (valid) cause

When you look at me, I know the first thought that crosses your mind.

That girl is rebellious.

Clearly the face of an anarchist.

The thing is, I don’t rebel in the ways most teenagers do (I just realized that I am almost out of the teenage demographic. Minor panic attack). My rebellion, like most aspects of my life, takes place entirely in my head, usually without any indication to the outside world that I am, in fact, rebelling.

I’d say that when it comes to cleanliness, I am fairly good at keep things tidy. Of course, during periods of stress, my living space becomes ripe with what I like to call “controlled chaos,” but otherwise, I like things neat. Such was not the case when I was a kid. But that story is for another time.

In general, I am good with chores. I will help out. But, when I am feeling rebellious, I become difficult.

Sometimes, on a whim, I’ll decide to do the dishes or vacuum or clean the mirrors or do something else banal that still counts as productive. Right as I am about to start said activity, someone, usually my older sister, will ask me to do the task that I had already decided I was going to do.

One would think that someone asking me to do something would provide the extra incentive to do it (another thing to put on my to-do list!). If you haven’t guessed it already, this is the point in the story where the rebelliousness kicks in.

I nod, say that I will do it, and then do it. Simple as that. Maybe I’ll grumble a little to express my displeasure.

But it is in no way simple in my head.

When I initially decide to do the deed, I feel happy. I have a concrete thing to do that I can accomplish and cross off of a list. I daresay I am even excited. But once someone asks me to do the same task, the magic is lost. No longer am I embarking on a journey by my own volition. No, that freedom has been taken away. I am demoted from explorer to oppressed. That former enthusiasm is replaced by rage.

At this point, I realize that I am crazy, and there is no possible way to explain this phenomenon without confirming suspicions that I should be locked up. Yes, sometimes even I am self-aware.

Rage. Right. I am brimming with incendiary anger (flames, on the side of my face, heaving, breathing, etc.). But, because I realize that this rage is irrational and therefore cannot be blamed on anyone but myself, I keep it in to the point where I am seething.

So what do I do? I rebel. I procrastinate. I'm not going to do the thing you wanted me to do at your earliest convenience, even though I was literally about to start it. Then, when I feel like I have rebelled enough, I take my frustration out on the chore. The chore started it, and therefore must be punished. I mean, I’ll still do the chore. Of course. But I won’t like it.

09 March 2011

about me

As you may or may not have guessed by now, I tend to focus on minute details that no one else seems to notice. But that’s what makes me so special. Or, at least, interesting enough to keep around.

But the insignificant does bog me down from time to time. When a person sitting in front of me has a white hair or a tag sticking out, I feel like that person put it there on purpose. To taunt me. To see how long I’ll be able to stare at it without my left eye twitching or before I have to sit on my hands to physically prevent myself from doing anything. Even though I may be crazy, my scope of crazy will not extend to breaking all social rules and touching a stranger. Plus, that would be gross. Who knows where that person has been?

On an unrelated note, I have this inexplicable rage against those stupid floppy bows girls wear in their hair. Not little girls. I think bows on little girls are adorable. I’m talking about girls on campus who parade around under those bows that look like they’re capable of taking flight, propeller-style, usually while wearing the entire stock of American Apparel at once. I understand that it’s a fashion choice. I get it. I went back to wearing six-inch heels a week after I had knee surgery. But for some reason, whenever I see a girl wearing one of those giant ass bows, I want to calmly walk over to her, rip it off of her head, and stomp it into a pulp on the ground. Probably while keeping a straight face the entire time. Yes, I know I am a horrible person, but at least I have never acted upon it. Yet.

I was recently accepted into a study abroad program. Among the multitude of paperwork I had to return was a housing form, in which I was to describe in detail my sleeping habits, dietary restrictions, and any allergies for my future roommate. All of these questions were manageable. I like questions that have clear answers. That way, I know exactly what is required of me and can deliver.

Then things took a turn for the worse. At the end of the form, there was quite a bit of empty space that I was prompted to fill with my answer to the question “How would you describe yourself?”


My first reaction was one of panic. I have absolutely no idea how to answer such an open-ended question. What did it even mean? Physically? Mentally? Emotionally? Philosophically? I don’t think I can answer any of those questions properly in the allotted space while still sounding sane/worthy of attending the program.

Overwhelmed with the possibilities before me, I turned to rebellion. I don’t know, yellow form, how would you describe yourself? Yellow? A form? A smug bastard? I hate you.

So I put it off for a while. I filled out every question on every form except for that one. I put it off until the deadline approached. The inevitable had finally come. I had to answer the damn question, because if I didn’t, I would have to turn in my form late, and if there’s anything I hate more than vaguely worded questions (and people who eat noisily), it’s being late.

As I started planning out what to write, another slew of questions hit me. What sort of tone do I want my answer to convey? Do I want to sound intelligent? I suppose sounding smart would be nice, but I didn’t want to alienate my future roommate. Did I want to sound friendly? Well, of course, but being friendly also runs the risk of being hokey, like one of those people who uses the wink wink nudge nudge motion unironically in normal conversation. Did I want to be funny? Yes, but I am aware that I have an odd sense of humor. I don’t know how my future roommate would respond to a girl that writes that she probably wouldn’t kill her in her sleep.

In the end, in addition to the reassurance that I am really easy to get along with and am a good listener, I said something about how I’m the type of person who seems quiet at first, but once I am comfortable, my true personality emerges. It wasn’t technically a lie, and my future roommate is just going to have to find out exactly what that personality is later on. Surprise!

08 March 2011

a test

Sometimes, I am far from intelligent. I am not sure whether the fire in my dorm today was intended to be a test of my intelligence, but if so, I failed miserably.

Before I begin that story, I must preface with another story. Well, it’s more of an explanation than a story, but I shall begin with it nonetheless.

While I am a functioning member of society who enjoys adorning herself in pretty clothing while out in public, such is not always the case. As soon as I enter the safe haven of my living space, a transformation occurs. My clothes become restricting and unnecessary, and I have found that the only remedy to my extreme discomfort is to shed them.

In other words, I don’t wear pants at home. Ever.

So, with that background information in mind, imagine my morning. My 9’o clock class across campus had been cancelled, so I was enjoying some quality time in my room—silently laughing at the fact that my roommate’s class did not get cancelled so she still had to put on proper clothes and makeup—being productive as fuck. Okay, so that was a lie. I was listening to music while pretending to read Sartre.

Without pants.

Then, the dreaded sound. I don’t know how to accurately describe the earsplitting shitstorm that was happening right outside my door, so BEEP BEEP BEEP MOTHERFUCKERS BEEP will have to suffice. Yes, the fire alarm. Oh happy day.

My dorm is notorious for having extremely sensitive fire alarms. Someone decides to make popcorn? BEEP BEEP BEEP MOTHERFUCKERS BEEP EVERYBODY OUT OF THE BUILDING. Toast? BEEP BEEP BEEP MOTHERFUCKERS BEEP STOP SLEEPING BITCHES. Pizza? Actually, nothing bad has happened from trying to make pizza.

So, given my previous knowledge of the fire alarm system, I figured I had a few minutes to collect my things, find a clean pair of sweatpants, and amble out the door, complaining with my neighbors about the loud fucking alarm.

But today was different. I smelled smoke (my hair actually still smells a little smoky. thank god for perfume).

I know that people say to keep calm during emergencies and exit the building in an orderly fashion. These people are full of bullshit.

I leapt off of my bed and looked for the closest items of clothing I could find. Unfortunately, in my panic, all I found was a hoodie and a pair of flip-flops. Good enough! I shoved both my arms into the sleeves at once and zipped that bad boy up. The flip-flops I threw on the ground in the hallway and literally ran into them.

As soon as the door shut behind me, I realized that I was not wearing pants. But I could die. So I pulled the hoodie down to cover my butt and kept going. Society’s rules about pants were not about to get in the way of my fresh air.

Of course, I was already self-conscious. I wasn’t wearing pants. But no. That sort of humiliation would not be enough. The building out of which I had just emerged was screaming BEEP BEEP BEEP LOOK AT THIS STUPID BITCH BEEP, calling attention to my pantsless existence. To make matters even better, I had to walk past a tour group to check in at the designated safe zone. WITHOUT PANTS.

So what did I do? What any normal, rational human being would do, of course. I put on my hood and pulled on the drawstrings, hiding my face.

Did I win today? I don’t think so. Touché universe, touché.

Sidebar: Apparently it's National Women's Day. I did my gender proud.

Also, don't be fooled into thinking that I have learned something from today's ordeal. I'm still not wearing pants.

07 March 2011


I'm going to take a controversial position. No, not like that. Keep it in your pants.

I have an unpopular opinion. One that has never been expressed by anyone else before: I am afraid of nothing.

The phrase may be misleading at first, but I mean it in earnest. I am afraid of nothing. I am afraid of doing nothing. Being nothing. Meaning nothing.

Before you scoff and call me an insufferable hipster having an existential crisis, please hear me out. This fear is real to the point where I can’t sleep at night and can’t function properly during the day either.

I know. This is quite a departure from my previous posts. Sorry. I should have warned that something like this might happen from time to time. What caused such a dark turn in my writing mood? The funny thing is, absolutely nothing (see why it’s so terrifying?).

I was sitting in my room, painting my nails and half-watching South Park on my laptop when I got the sudden urge to write. This urge is not uncommon, and I suspect will not cease any time soon. So, after I finished up, I opened a new document and sat, staring, at the blank page. And what did I see? Nothing—except for a blinking cursor, which is really an indicator of nothing.

Sometimes nothing can be okay. Having nothing on a page means that I can fill it with something without distraction from a previous something. But tonight was different. Seeing the nothing made me wonder whether I would be able to put a something where the nothing was that would be worth, well, something. Would I come up with a something that would be different from other somethings that other people have produced? What could I possibly do that would make my something something? I suppose at this point, I could have just done nothing. I could have shut my laptop and gone to bed like a normal person. I could have put this panic-stricken moment in the back of mind to forget. But no. I chose to write, because not writing is far worse than the alternative. If I stop, then when the next time comes that I want to write, I’ll tell myself that I need to make a grand gesture to return, which will freak me out even more to the point where I’ll put it off again.

So I do something. I type. But the fear still haunts me. How do I know that I’ll be able to be someone/thing of importance? I don’t mean to say that I want to be powerful. I don’t. I just want to know whether, one day, I’ll be someone that someone else chooses. There are millions of people out there who do what I do (whatever that may be), and most of them are probably better than I am at doing said thing. So why would I be chosen? What do I have to offer that makes me more than better than nothing? What makes me something?

At this point, I may have lost you. And that’s okay. I’ve lost myself a little bit too. Anxiety is a wonderful thing. Okay, maybe it’s not. But at least it’s something. Which is more than I can say about myself at this moment.

I don’t want to end this post on a downer. So, instead, I will tell you the reason why I painted my nails tonight.

When I know I’m going to have a late night, I paint my nails. If I’m super serious, I’ll even do my toenails. But why? you rational-minded people may ask. I will tell you why.

I am vain. But I am also resourceful.

By painting my nails, I have made a time commitment to staying awake. I have to remain upright and outside of my covers lest I ruin a nail. Being awake will make me feel guilty, so, fueled by that guilt and possibly by nail polish fumes as well, I get shit done.

It’s a win-win situation. Pretty nails and accomplishment. Although this new quick-dry topcoat has made getting shit done marginally more difficult.

At least my nails look pretty.


I'm going to be honest with you. I didn't write yesterday because I follow rules about new relationships to the letter. Rules prescribed to me by society, so I know that they're infallible.

If I write too much too soon, then I appear over eager. God forbid you know how excited I actually am. No, it's better for our relationship if I feign nonchalance and (hopefully) make you feel as insecure as I do about what's unfolding before us.

No. I can't be completely, unironically enthusiastic. I can't just put everything I have out there, because that means I will have to be vulnerable. No. I must be a fortress of impenetrable rocks and issues that protect my ideas. If you think you deserve to know everything right away, you're wrong. I need to withhold until you earn the right. Being truthful and open right off the bat is crazy. Enigmatic deception is the best policy.

We need to play games with each other to the point where neither of us know exactly where we stand, yet cannot ask each other flat out because we're already past that point in our relationship (?). No, we speak to each other in allusions and entendres until we think we've cornered the other. What's important here is power, not honesty.

So, here I am. I waited a day, and now the ball is in your court. I can't be the one to do something twice in a row. Your move.

05 March 2011

grace period?

Is there a rule about how long one should wait between posting? If so, prepare yourself for my earth-shattering defiance. I am posting twice in one day within an hour. This blog is about to get crazy.

Anyways, the real reason why I'm writing again so soon is a little phenomenon I like to call "achievement high." I am an achievement junkie. In fact, I'm on an achievement bender as I type.

So what exactly does this "achievement high" entail? Funny you should ask, invisible internet audience, because I was just about to explain (hopefully without sounding like a freak [too late]).

I like to set deadlines for myself. 300-page book? I will finish 100 pages by dinner today. And when I do? HIGH. I have to keep going to prolong this thrill. So I keep reading until I remember that I haven't eaten all day and may pass out. But still. The high lives on. I fucking did something. I am a functioning member of society.

And then it just spirals out of control.

To do list? Put shit that I can very easily achieve/ shit I have already done on the list. BAM. CRAZY HIGH. I am an unstoppable force of nature that can do anything. I will do whatever it takes to keep this high going, even if it means writing "check email" on my list even though I do it anyways. I am a superhero.

But, all good things must come to an end. In this case, the end rears its nasty-ass head in the form of an "achievement comedown." At first, the comedown doesn't seem so bad. I couldn't finish something in the time I allotted for the task. Not a tragedy. I can keep going, right? Wrong. I panic (internally, because otherwise my friends [surprisingly, yes, I have friends] would think I am crazy, which they already do, but not to this extent) and then try to push through. But I get overwhelmed and have to do another task, then tell myself that the reason I didn't finish the first task was because I was distracted, which obviously is not true but I like to tell myself pretty little lies sometimes. And who doesn't? Just today, I assured myself that eating raw ramen noodles is totally acceptable behavior for an adult, considering how similar they taste to chips.

So yes, in short, I am prone to silent panic attacks. I ride these highs and sink with the lows. And now I've completely forgotten what I was doing. I should have written it down.

obligatory awkward first post

I wonder how many cliches I can fit into this first post.

Hi. My name is Kayla. I'm a college student in Southern California with a tendency to procrastinate. I initially mistyped "procrastinate" as "procreate," which would have given this blog an entirely different first impression. I am on a path of self-discovery. I think. Also, I like profanity.

So, why blog? A couple years ago, I tried fashion blogging. As you can see from my staggering 22 whole posts (please don't look at them), I was not great at it. The pressure kind of freaked me out, and to be honest, it felt really contrived. But I keep having this nagging feeling that I should still be blogging. I think the reason I stopped fashion blogging was because I didn't want to commit to one specific genre of blogging. Or I was really lazy. Whatever.

I decided to start this blog on a whim, mainly because I don't want to read a 300-page book today, nor do I want to write about a subject that bears no real meaning on my life at this moment. Sometimes, I get inspired and just want to write, but find myself impotent because I don't have anywhere to put my thoughts, and no one who really wants to listen.

My point is, I am compelled. I need an outlet. I don't even care if no one reads this post, or any post that is yet to come. I just need to write. So I will.