26 July 2012

choose your own adventure


There are some people who treat their blogs as their confessionals. While I don’t necessarily condone this behavior (except I do share things like my dislike of wearing pants) and try to maintain distance, I have something that I need to get off my chest.

I cheat at “Choose Your Own Adventure” books.

“But that’s not a game,” you say, “and so it’s not technically cheating. Also, do people still do CYOA?” However you classify my shameful behavior, I think we can all agree that I’m doing it wrong. Besides, I’m sure there are people out there who do the same thing as me.

Before I get into how I choose my own adventure incorrectly, I should probably mention how difficult it is for me to read. You would think that after all these years and all these books, I would have a better grasp of my favorite thing to do, but you would be wrong. The problem lies precisely in what keeps me coming back—too much excitement for reading. Reading becomes scanning because I am way too eager to watch the story unfold, and, unfortunately, seeing is not the same as understanding.

So, I have to go back and re-read the passages, reminding myself the entire time to pace myself. It’s easy to get carried away though (especially with someone as impatient as me), so sometimes I revert back to reading at a pace that makes some words look like keyboard smash (safnkdja). It’s not until later that I realize that I didn’t grasp anything, and safnkdja isn’t a real word.

Besides the aforementioned lack of control I exhibit when it comes to reading normal books, that undisciplined behavior is amplified when the reading material happens to be CYOA. I always tell myself that I’m not going to cheat this time, but I know that I’m just lying to save face.

Once I reach a fork, I have to know what happens with each option, and subsequently know what each option within that option leads to. Because of my curiosity, I end up with each of my fingers employed as a bookmark to mark where the plot branches off and me flipping furiously to read all the storylines.

It’s not necessarily that I don’t want to be wrong (though I don’t), but more that I want to explore every option and analyze how certain choices lead to certain outcomes. Plus, I would hate to miss the information relayed at different points in the book. In other words, I NEED TO KNOW EVERYTHING. And if everything I want to know is just there, an illegal page turn away, why wouldn’t I do it?

I know, I know. Playing by the rules, discipline, and all that stuff about how I’m only cheating myself. But, considering how such an opportunity is impossible in real life, why wouldn’t you jump at the chance to see how every decision you make could pan out, even if the stakes aren’t that high?

If you still don’t agree with me, then you would be a really boring protagonist in a sci-fi movie. It’s the truth. Sorry I’m not sorry.

24 July 2012

keep it sharp

I've accepted that there are a couple of things I do or care about that don't matter to anyone else. I'm also aware that I live in a bubble in which things I accept as normal are generally not. But since "mind over matter" is a widely accepted phrase, there have to be some of you out there who engage in behavior similar to mine.

Since physical fitness hasn't always been a strong (ha) suit of mine, I used to "train" myself mentally to (over)compensate.

I started this workout regimen with little puzzles and logic games. I made countless sudoku puzzles my bitch, and I obsessed over sporcle. Even then, I realized that the sense of pride I felt after completing something correctly was kind of douchey, but I continued nonetheless, lest my brain atrophy. I still indulge in the occasional brain teaser, but I keep it to myself (except for right now).

As awesome as those mental exercises were, they weren’t strenuous enough to count as a workout. So, I graduated to by experimenting with the control my mind could exert over my body. I had to have strength in something, and a mind was better than nothing.

For example, I would induce a yawn, then see how quickly I could curtail its development with my mind. The great thing about these training sessions was that they could be done virtually anywhere, so I commonly practiced during classes (especially in middle school) or at church. The same could also be done with itches, but I have found those to be more difficult to will away.

To this day, I don’t know how my face looks when I do this, but I think it’s for the best that I never know. You know, so I don’t retroactively die of shame.

I also used to do the same thing with sneezes, but then I read a terrifying article about brain aneurysms and stopped immediately. That would have been rather counterproductive.

18 July 2012

[insert obvious shakespeare joke about names]

While going through the piles of books in my room, I found a legal pad that I had hidden for some reason. I say some reason because it was completely blank, so I have no idea why I decided to hide it. I figure it must not have been that important, so I started doodling all over it. If it turns out that this legal pad is significant, I'm going to feel really really stupid. But, for now, I was going to have fun.

The problem I have with doodling is fundamental in nature. I can't draw. Period. Anyone who has play Draw Something or Pictionary with me can attest to this fact. Also, I don't think I'm creative enough to think of little things to doodle.

Instead, I do my version of doodling: writing the alphabet over and over and seeing which letters are the prettiest.

Oddly enough, the letter that is most awkward for me is the letter "k." Yes, the letter with which my name begins. It always looks like shit to me, no matter how many times I write it.

Actually, I think my name might be the ugliest thing I write. It just looks wrong. And no, I don't think that it looks wrong because I've written it so many times that it doesn't look like a real word (does that actually happen?). I just don't think that it fits my handwriting.

After all this fixation on my name, I started thinking about whether my name "fit" me. Keep in mind, I am terrible at determining whether names fit people or not. When you say, "oh, that person looks like a [whatever, doesn't matter]," I usually agree with you because I want you to like me. that skill is completely beyond my capabilities.

Considering how much doppelgängers creep me out, you can imagine the awkwardness that arises when I meet someone with the same name as me. Once, I met this girl who shared my name AND birthday, and I swear my discomfort was tangible.

But I'm sure that that sort of tension exists with other people and not just me, because it's weird that something that literally shapes your identity could be shared with someone else. There has to be some inherent competition present.

Other people are weird and petty, too. They just have to be.

12 July 2012

out loud


Some people talk because they like the sound of their own voice. I have a confession to make: when I write these posts, I read them aloud to myself. I like making sure that the words are arranged in a coherent way that still sounds like me. I don’t know when I developed this habit, but I do know that it is incredibly annoying to other people, hence why I spend so much time alone. I also make hand gestures, especially when frustrated (which is a lot).

my work nest. the tiger doesn’t judge.

But yes. Voice. Voice is important. Not only in writing, but in reading as well. Some of my earliest and fondest memories are of my mother reading aloud to me, employing various dialects and pitches to signify different characters. To this day, I cannot pick up those books without hearing my mom’s voice or seeing her face contorting to accommodate whatever character she was portraying at the time.

Seriously though. Every letter/character in Chicka Chicka Boom Boom had its own personality.

In lower school, the teachers used to go around the room and have each student read a passage from a book according to where we were sitting. This scenario ought to have been terrifying for me, but it wasn’t.

I have vivid memories of counting to see which passage would be mine, how long it was, and if there were any words I didn’t know how to pronounce. I remember practicing over and over in my head so that my delivery would be flawlessly executed. I remember the rush of adrenaline when it was finally my turn, and the pride I felt after I finished. I remember waiting in agony until it was my turn again. Was I obsessive from a young age? Damn straight, but young Kayla had skills.

 pictured: skills

I may be a few feet taller and possibly a few years wiser, but I still find myself speaking aloud while reading. And I still like it, even if I’m the only one listening. Of course, an audience does make it better, if a little less weird.

Moral of this story? I will read aloud to my future children whether they like it or not.

11 July 2012



As I enjoy my (potentially) final summer break, I can’t help but think about a concern that has loomed over my head since I started my education.

It started out simply—if you copy another kid, you get called out and people like you less. You become a social pariah until someone else screws up worse than you. Or pees his pants or something else equally mortifying.

What scared me then, and continues to scare me now, was being falsely accused of copying someone else. However, that fear has shifted to the academic realm. Plagiarism is scary.

When I was in high school, one English teacher was particularly strict about plagiarism (not that plagiarism is something to be taken lightly). She mentioned a website that dissects papers and highlights every bit of text that came from somewhere else, like a passage from a novel or an opinion from another writer. But, the website also contains papers from other students, it can track whether the author of the paper copied it from somewhere else. After highlighting all the foreign text, the teacher has to decide whether each source was properly cited.

 Considering that teachers have been drilling proper formatting for citations into my head since I can remember, I shouldn’t have worried so much about this website. But, since I am who I am, I found something about which to obsess.

Think about it. There are twenty-six letters in the alphabet, and everything I have ever reading is just these letters, arranged in various ways. But there are only so many possible permutations, and there is a chance that the conclusions I drew from reading something could be similar to the conclusions someone else drew after reading the same thing. We might even express our thoughts in a similar way, using similar words.

But, if that person’s paper is fed into the website before mine, I could be accused of plagiarism, even though I’ve never seen the other paper. In this hypothetical, I would be screwed, and would sound like an idiot trying to defend myself.

As I extend the scenario further, dipping into things like doppelgangers and parallel universes and all that, I find myself freaking out more and more. It’s like that cliché about how I’m special, just like everyone else or whatever. It’s really unsettling to think about and as I start to think about clichés and how anti-clichés are becoming clichés too my mind becomes a mess of panic until I find something to distract me.

I suppose this would be where I would put something revelatory about how I’ve gotten over it and am completely normal now, but that would be a giant lie. I’m still terrified about being a copycat, and will continued to be terrified for as long as I continue writing. It’s just something I have to live with, like my frustration with eating string cheese (THERE’S NO WAY TO EAT IT SO THAT IT’S PERFECTLY SYMMETRICAL).

Everything will be okay.

26 June 2012

written history

This post started out handwritten, but I didn’t want to subject you to reading it in its original form again.

So. It has come to this. Writing by hand because I miss pens. I miss ink. And I miss paper. It reminds me of a simpler time, though it didn’t really exist—at least not for me. I’ve never used a quill to write letters as my only means of correspondence. I’m recreating that feeling by leaning on a pile of pillows on my bed, iced coffee on my bedside table, and pen in hand. My laptop is at the foot of my bed, providing background noise to my senseless musings.

To be honest, I’m not sure why I’m writing like this right now. Actually, that’s a lie, too. I’m writing on this piece of paper because I like looking at my handwriting. There. I said it. I am that narcissistic.

But seriously, I don’t think I write on paper enough anymore. No one does. But writing on paper makes me think more. My writing has to be more intentional. There are no backspace keys. I can’t drag and drop passages to play with syntax. I mean, there’s whiteout, but that takes effort and I’m lazy.

Yes, computers make writing easier, but they take something away from that process for me.

Have you ever looked at your handwriting? I mean, really looked? Studied the size, the curviness (or lack thereof), the way each letter leads to the next? Your handwriting is your educational history. You were taught how to write by someone, so their handwriting inevitably affects the way you form your own letters. Every flourish was inspired by something you’ve seen and adopted as your own.

Your penmanship reveals so much about your personality because it’s something that you control. You decide what you want your handwriting to look like. That’s not to say that I think that handwriting analysis is 100% effective. I’ve done the online tests and have not come up with anything conclusive. But there is a lot to be learned from how someone writes.

Then there’s also the question of writing utensil and how you use it. Pen or pencil? Color? Thickness? Amount of pressure applied to the paper? What does it all mean?

And handwriting is a dynamic entity. It changes based on how tired one is, whether or not he or she is focused, and whether the document is important. Also, do not get me started on cursive. I don’t have the time to explain why I think it’s a waste of time.

I think that part of the reason why I’m obsessing over this topic is that I miss my library job at school. Poring over old documents, marveling at the distinct lack of ink smudges, despite the fact that the writer needed an inkwell and was probably drunk. I will never be able to communicate like that, at least not without people being pissed at me and wondering why I can’t just text like a normal person my age.

Feeling like Sherlock? What can you deduce from this sample?

20 June 2012

my version of the lake house

There have been periods of my life during which I undergo serious self-examination. These reevaluations may be triggered by various stimuli, the most common of which is meeting someone for the first time (or, unfortunately, during a job interview). Painful self-awareness kicks in, and I have no choice but to consider the impression I must have made.

Of course, such self-analysis does not always begin that way. Sometimes, it starts when I realize that something I take for granted about myself does not necessarily apply to others. For instance, my jaw locks when I eat something too sweet, and even just the thought of booger makes me want to vomit.

Most recently, I decided that I wanted to reread Dostoevsky's Notes from Underground, because I read it in high school and forgot about it until I saw it sitting at the bottom (of course) of a stack of books in my room and let my curiosity get the better of me.

I found that I couldn't read it because I kept getting distracted by the annotations I had made previously, and was compelled to take a pen and start a discourse with my fifteen-year-old self. She had read it, sure, but she didn't comprehend it. So, naturally, I took a different colored pen and started over, taking note of what past me had missed and feeling better about my current intellect.

The funny this was, I could see how the messages of the novel resonated with me, even now, but by looking at my past annotations, I would not guess that I absorbed anything. Regardless, I came to the conclusion that past me was stupid, and present me is infinitely more observant.

conversations with myself

Then, I realized that in a few years, present me would be past me, and future me would think that she was stupid, too. After all, isn't that what growing up is? Thinking that you are so much smarter than you were before (regardless of whether or not it's true)?

But undergoing this self-examination often results in change, whether it be of a mannerism or way of thinking, that I perceive to be a step toward personal improvement.

But what if I was wrong? What if that change was only a good idea because of the circumstance, but ultimately was a step backward? How do I know that if something I'm doing now to fix a problem of mine is actually a solution?

Short answer: I don't. No one really does. In fact, it's when someone says that they know everything that they reveal themselves to know very little. And that's why I think it's okay that I have conversations with myself through time.

I have to check myself, after all, before I wreck myself.

Yes, I went there.

24 May 2012

a breather (and an explanation for why I might look at you with crazy eyes)


As you can tell by the title of this post, it’s summer, aka time for me to take a breather. I am so glad to finally be done with junior year, as well as an especially stressful finals week that made me temporarily hate my major (yay for no exams, not yay for six papers instead). If anything, finals were a test of my self-discipline, and I think that I managed fairly well. And it didn’t hurt that I wrote one of my papers outside while tanning with my friends. What matters is that everything got done (early!) and I survived. Thankfully, I can resume my thrilling pantsless lifestyle of the internet, video games, and sporadic naps. 

But, when I do make it out of the house, I often find myself thinking about mind readers, especially when in a large crowd. Not in a creepy, obsessive way. More like, posing hypotheticals if they were to exist. Namely, if one were capable of reading minds, could one “hear” selectively through an active choice, or would people’s thoughts bombard the mindreader to the point where he or she could not discern any admissible information (this question points out a lot of inconsistencies within the True Blood universe, which bothers me)? Or, if the mindreader is, in fact bombarded, do some thoughts come off as louder than others?

After much deliberation, I think that what would stand out to me, if I could hear thoughts, are thoughts that have absolutely nothing to do with what is happening. Of course, this sort of thing happens all the time, as no one can honestly say that they are completely focused on what is around them all the time. But, there have got to be outlandish things that catch the attention of the mindreader.

Which is where the parenthetical section of the title comes into play. When in large crowds, my mind wanders, inevitably landing on something inappropriate (mostly scatological, but often judgmental). Whatever the content, it is something that I should not be thinking about. Once it registers in my brain that my thought is inappropriate, I think, “Well, at least it’s not…” and thus begins a downward spiral of smut and humorous observations (that are only humorous to me). Then, I think about mindreaders, and imagine the horror that a mindreader would feel, hearing about my urge to pull the white hairs out of an unsuspecting lady’s head that just happens to be right in front of me.

This is point when I look around wildly to see if anyone is staring at me with a disapproving glare or a look of bewilderment.

Normally, I would panic at that point, but then I remember that that person is a mindreader, and has therefore heard thoughts that are far worse than mine. Besides, if that person can read minds, there’s not much I can do to combat that.

Oddly enough, after all of that internal monologuing, I am in a position of power. If someone is looking at me weirdly, then I can out that person as a mindreader. If that situation were to arise, I would like to make knowing eye contact, nod, and carry on my way, thinking “I’m onto you.”

09 March 2012



Proof that my life is unceasingly awkward.

I had the joy of taking a red-eye flight across the country today, and, me being me, experienced one of the most terrifying and embarrassing moments of my life. In one fell swoop, my paranoia and pride were shot to hell.

Of course, this statement may be taken as hyperbole, but suffice it to say that I thought I was going to be arrested, then melt into a puddle of embarrassment. There was also an incident as I walked through security where the man in line in front of me let rip one of the loudest farts I have ever heard in my life and pretended like nothing happened, but that story is somehow less funny than the one I am about to share with you. I honestly don’t know why I subject myself to this kind of torture, but I suppose I just want other people to laugh, even if it is at my expense.

Once I had settled into my seat (window, of course), I performed my usual in-flight routine—put on my hood, popped a Nyquil, and ignored whoever was sitting next to me (seriously though, I would not be able to pick him[?] out of a lineup)—and was out before the safety video was over. It wasn’t the most peaceful sleep I’ve ever had, but it could have been worse. I could have been awake. Though, in retrospect, being awake might have been helpful.

Upon arrival, I performed another part of my routine—waiting until the absolute last moment to stand up and walk off the plane. I don’t understand why people stand up as soon as the plane stops and then just stand there until it’s their turn to exit. Far too much effort.

As I was walking toward the front of the plane, a flight attendant with a serious face touched my left arm, which a) startled me and b) made me uncomfortable, and asked me whether I was traveling alone. When I responded that, yes, I was alone, she told me to take a seat at the front of the plane until she came to get me.

Naturally, I freaked out. What the hell had I done? Was there some sort of contraband in my bag? Did I miss something super important during the flight because I was asleep (and possibly drooling)? I’m sure my eyes took up the greater part of my face as I made my way to the front, utterly confused and still a little disoriented from what can only be described as my temporary coma.

I sat down and waited, watching all the other passengers leave. The thought that crossed my mind with the most frequency was, “shit, if I get arrested, that probs means I’ll miss my connecting flight.” #priorities

The flight attendant eventually came to get me after what felt like the entire population of a small city deplaned. She asked me for my name and final destination, then whipped out a comically long sheet of paper. All I could think was that that document held the secrets to my future, and judging by how long it was, I was a little bit screwed.

Finally, I did something unprecedented: I looked around. It was just me sitting in the front row, with an elderly couple across the aisle. Then it hit me. My life was about to get super awkward.

The flight attendant assured the elderly couple that their wheelchairs would be there soon. I sat there, wincing, knowing exactly why she had told me to sit down.

She asked me for my seat number, then looked deeply perturbed at my answer. “No, that’s not right. You’re not on my list. What’s your name again?”

And then came the dreaded question: “How old are you?”


“You’re not an unaccompanied minor!”

No, I’m not an unaccompanied minor. I’m twenty years old. I’m a junior in college.

I know I don’t look my absolute best right now, but I didn’t realize that I look like a child.

I exited the plane with mixed feelings. I was ecstatic that I wasn’t going to be arrested or held for questioning. But, I did leave amidst a sea of laughter from the flight attendants and even the elderly couple.

You guys suck.

The face of a child. A sweet, sweet child. And yes, I did take that picture in the bathroom of the Atlanta airport. I have no shame left.

14 February 2012

the magic

Normally, this is where I would apologize for my hiatus and make some promise to write more frequently in the future. I think it would be better for all of us if I just skipped that part and moved on.

It was in Disneyland, of all places, that I discovered a flaw so fundamental in my personality that I was shocked that I had never noticed it before. And before you ask, yes, the setting was crucial to this discovery. It was in the happiest place on earth that I discovered why it is so difficult for me to be happy.

As my friends and I were on various rides, I found myself doing what I always do- craning my neck to see their reactions to things as they were completely engrossed in each moment. Then I wondered, why wasn’t I as focused as they were? Why wasn’t I drawn in? Was it because I wasn’t as interested, or because I wouldn’t let myself be interested?

Then I had a sinking realization. Since they were fully enjoying what they were doing, they weren’t doing something that I’ve been doing on rides for as long as I can remember: actively looking for the mechanics behind the ride, the edges where the fantasy and reality failed to overlap and revealed itself to me. Even in the darkness of Space Mountain, I locked my eyes on the tracks and the equipment, not the (fake) starry sky around me. I couldn’t suspend disbelief for even a second.

Not even in Disneyland, not even on a roller coaster, not even in the happiest of company, could I let my analytical mind rest. No, I was constantly searching for any mistakes, anything that could break the spell intended for me.

I’m not sure it’s necessary to explain how this tendency of mine applies to the rest of my life, for it’s probably quite obvious to you now. And that is why I am difficult.

And no, the irony that today is Valentine’s Day has not escaped me.