Things that are wrong with me

22 Oct
  • I am:
    • Stupid
    • Ignorant
    • Opinionated
    • Pushy
    • Stubborn
    • Over-educated
    • Stuck up
    • Stupid (yes, again)
    • Awkward
    • Irritating
    • Fat
    • Worthless
    • Needy
    • Verbose
    • A waste of time, energy, space, and cyberspace
  • I hate myself (yes, I do see the irony)
  • I say a lot of things that don’t need to be said
  • I am the WORST
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Linguistic Xenophobia

7 Dec

One of my IWC facebook friends, who is lovely, posted a “pass it along” type anti-racism status. One of their friends commented, and I now have to address the comment because it’s making me angry and I cannot let it go. So if you’re that facebook friend (I’m leaving out names), I’m sorry for my angry rant at your friend but GAH it made me angry. Here is (the relevant part of) the comment, with my response following:

“My problem is language, I don’t go to china or mexico or france and expect them to speak my language, I LEARN THEIRS. I don’t see any reason why they can’t do the same.”

Oh, really dickwad? No reason, huh? First off, your profile tells me two things: 1) you were born in the same American city in which you currently live; and 2) you support the campaign to keep the “Christ” in “Christmas”. That’s not a good start for you. Not a good start at all.

Let me start by guessing that you have never actually been to China, Mexico, or France, or learned Chinese, Spanish, or French. Clearly it is the case that you have never learned a foreign language and then gone to the country in which it’s spoken and tried to communicate, because guess what you would find out? Huh? Any guesses? No?

IT’S FUCKING HARD.

How do I know that? Guess what, I actually did go to China! I even lived there! And you know what? I did learn Chinese! And no, I didn’t expect most people in China to speak English. But my Chinese wasn’t great; I started learning Chinese when I was 21. I couldn’t always express what I wanted to say in Chinese and sometimes ended up resorting to gestures or Chinglish. Sometimes people’s English was better than my Chinese, so we were both more comfortable speaking in English.

Oh, and hey! I’ve been to France too. And guess what? They actually don’t like it when you speak French if you’re not good at it! They’ll insist on speaking English (or Spanish, as the case was with me once) with you instead because they don’t want to hear you butcher their language. By the way, I think this is a very intolerant and annoying way of thinking too.

What’s more, immigrants in America often find a community of other immigrants from the same place to be a part of, or at least bring their family with them. When I was with my American friends in China, we almost always spoke English together. Even when I was in Spain – and I’m much more comfortable and competent in Spanish than I am in Chinese – I mostly spoke English with my American friends. I think it’s natural that if people with the same native language get together, they’ll speak that language even if it’s not the standard or common language of the region. There’s absolutely no reason to expect Spanish speakers or Chinese speakers to speak English with each other. To demand they speak English all the time is intolerant, childish and paranoid.

And what’s more, people’s ability to learn a foreign language as an adult varies greatly by individual. For some people, it comes fairly easily. I think I’m lucky to be one of those people. For others, it’s not so easy. Some people’s brains just aren’t built to acquire a second language as an adult with ease or success. Some people, no matter how hard they try and how often they practice at their second language, will always be hard to understand for native speakers of that language. I’ve tutored Spanish and French, and linguistics, and I’ve taken a lot of language courses, and I’ve met a lot of these people. A few are lazy. But most just honestly don’t have the ability to just learn Spanish or French or Chinese or what have you, just like that, and communicate easily.

So get off your goddamned high horse, and try to fucking put yourself in someone else’s shoes for once. If you think you’re being inconvenienced by immigrants not being able to speak English, imagine how they feel.

And I’ve just found out I’m teaching an undergrad Language in the United States course this winter. So, yeah, I know things. SUCK IT, random ignorant person!

My Third Man Live record arrived 7 weeks ago. I still haven’t heard it.

12 Oct

So when I left home – well, my parents’ house – last, at the end of August, I knew I had a record coming. Not just any record, but Conan O’Brien Live at Third Man Records. Yeah, a record full of Conan playing rock and roll with the LBP and Jack fucking White. Of course it came the day I left, and my dad texted me that a record-like package had arrived while I was on the train.

So, before I left, my mom said she’d record it for me if it didn’t come in time, as long as I left her instructions. So I left, not just instructions, oh no, but detailed instructions. There were twelve steps, if I remember correctly (and no, I’m not confusing my USB turntable with AA).

Well, I waited about a week, and asked how it was going. They hadn’t gotten to it yet. Frustrating, but I knew that besides still getting used to a home without me, my brother, or our dog was probably difficult, plus they were starting to actually go through with their remodeling plans. Okay, well I’d reminded them and they said they’d get to it when they could.

Some more time passed – another week or two probably – and I asked again. Nothing. Around this time I think was when my dad’s aunt died. So again, I cut them some slack, but was growing increasingly impatient as I saw everyone else on IWC listening to their records when I was stuck at school without a stereo system, turntable, or record.

But I figured, my parents understand that I’m obsessed with Conan. I mean, they don’t understand my obsessions in that they can identify, but they know how I get when I get obsessed with something. And they know that now that something is Conan. They also know – well, Mom does anyway – that the White Stripes are one of my favorite bands. And that I have an intense obsession, not just with Conan, but with rock’n’roll. So I assumed that they understood how badly I want to listen to this record.

It is now October 12th. My record arrived in the mail on August 24th. THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE. I don’t care that they are totally renovating the downstairs and “my” room is now the living room. In fact, THAT SHOULD MAKE IT EASIER BECAUSE THEY NOW HAVE MY USB TURNTABLE IN THE FUCKING LIVING ROOM! And if they’ve run into problems with my instructions, there’s absolutely no fucking excuse for not letting me know. And if it’s revenge for leaving a pile of clothes on the floor (clean, I might add!) when I left, then that’s pretty fucking immature of them. And if they’ve just forgotten, then that makes me feel REALLY important. ARGH!

What’s more, a few days before I left, it was my birthday, and my mom took me birthday shopping. All I wanted was at least one pair of shoes (she got me two) and some candy. And then they took me out to dinner. And when my mom was getting my shoes, she was like, “I wish there was something more you wanted so I could get you a real birthday present!” even as I insisted that shoes were an awesome present (I mean come on, they were Chucks! And I wasn’t even planning on getting two pairs!) and she shouldn’t worry about it. So basically my point is, if my mom was so concerned about getting me something awesome for my birthday almost two months ago, WHY THE FUCK HASN’T SHE RECORDED MY RECORD YET?!

Is there something I’m missing? Do they really just not realize that I WASN’T LYING when I asked them to record it? Or do they just not care? I DON’T UNDERSTAND WHY IT IS NOT ON MY COMPUTER RIGHT THE FUCK NOW.

Actually, you know what? I just realized, I know exactly what happened. The person I actually reminded was my dad, not my mom. While my mom would be happy to do this for me, she forgets things easily and I’m sure she forgot. And my dad didn’t bother to remind her, because the way my dad works is, if it’s not important to him, it’s not important. And so my mother has completely forgotten about it and my dad doesn’t care and isn’t reminding Mom. FUCKING GREAT. My parents are a shining example of communication.

True story: In college, I was listening to Shawn Phillips a lot – one of me and my mom’s favorite musicians of all time – and there was a thing on his website where you could request him to come to your city and suggest a venue and all that. I had seen the Pete Best Band at the German House the year before and it was a nice, intimate venue – perfect, I thought, for Shawn’s relatively small fanbase. So I requested it. Turns out he came to the German House, the day I came home from college the next semester. Dad had seen it in the paper a few days earlier, but he DIDN’T FUCKING BOTHER to tell me or my mom. So, I could’ve come home earlier and gone to see the Shawn Phillips concert THAT I FUCKING REQUESTED, but I didn’t get the chance because Dad was so fucking inconsiderate.

RAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGE!!!!!

But I’m going home next weekend, the 22nd-24th. So, I’ll do it myself then. I’m just honestly SO MAD that they have been that inconsiderate to just not do it even after I reminded them at least twice. I mean, it takes like an hour. And they can do something else while each side records. The fact that they have not even bothered to find an hour to spare for something I obviously really really really REALLY want, is what really pisses me the fuck off.

Ugh, I’m so mad. I want that record NOW!

(Sara sits in a corner arms akimbo and pouts like a small child as all her readers walk away in fear and/or repulsion… that’s right, walk away… I’m staying here til I get my goddamn record!)

On Being a Second-Year

9 Sep

So after six weeks at home, I started to go a little stir-crazy. And depressed. But I’m back at school now and things are waaaaaay better. Like seriously, there’s a reason I’m in grad school and it’s cos I fucking love school and linguistics and my linguist peeps, and I’m just so happy to be back.

However, there are some minor problems.

One is my internet connection. Last year, my internets were super-speedy. Seriously, I could even keep up in those games of Office Jeopardy that Hannah held. (Speaking of which, I miss Hannah! Hannah, COME BACK TO TEH INTERWEBZ, WE MISS YOU!) Anyway, my point is that the internet speed here was a great success last year. This year? NOT SO. Seriously, yahoo mail takes fucking ages to load… as does facebook, and twitter, and even university e-mail which is like bare bones html.

This wouldn’t bother me as much if there wasn’t that stupid proxy that prevents me from downloading anything via megaupload. And there are videos I have links to on megaupload that I’d like to watch but I CAN’T, because my school won’t let me. 😦 I still haven’t given up; my friend Kris in China is on facebook, so that means that either they’ve unblocked it, or she’s using a proxy, and I selfishly hope it’s the latter because I want to know a safe one to use that also lets you download things (which any decent proxy-user in China knows how to do). I already got a (relatively harmless and easily dealt with) virus trying with an old link. Ugh.

So yeah, I have to refresh pages like 3 times to access them, and I can’t access megaupload. INTERNET!FAIL.

Another minor problem that has always, always been a problem for me is punctuality. Like seriously, I’ve had so little to do so far, but I can still barely make it to class on time. Seriously, Sara? Seriously? I really have to try and work on that.

Another problem is that I’m already starting to get a lot of homework built up (and for those that don’t know, my homework is mostly reading tons of journal articles in my field – except for semantics this semester, for which we get book reading and also actual like “write down the answers” homework), and finding the motivation to do it has been difficult. This is mostly due to having done absofuckinglutely nothing that can be called “work” this summer. The transition is apparently difficult. I’d better make it though, or I’m pretty much fucked at life in general if I can’t buck it up and get shit done.

Also, I’m a Research Assistant this semester on a grant project two of my professors are leading. Which is awesome, because the project is really interesting. However, they don’t have any concrete plans for me as an RA, and I have a feeling that if I let it happen, I could end up doing nothing on it. Which might sound sweet to you (hey! get paid to do nothing!), but let me assure you that that would NOT be the case. In fact, it would be essentially the biggest Wasted Opportunity I’ve ever let float by and possibly a Career-Ruiner, or at the very least Something That Would Make My Career Very Difficult In The Near Future. This is my chance to hone some of my interests and start my QPs (Qualifying Papers – we have to finish 2 of them in our third year in order to go on to the dissertation), and really get some amazing research experience. However, the whole “let us know what you want to do” thing is a little daunting, because… I want to do everything! And I still don’t get all the stuff I need to about the experiments that people are doing. So I guess I should really ask my officemate who’s also an RA on the project to help explain the technicalities to me. I think if I just make myself, like, an experiment glossary, everything will be much clearer. And I’ll be able to actually maybe help, instead of just sitting there like, THIS IS INTERESTING BUT I CANNOT CONTRIBUTE BECAUSE WHAT THE FUCK DOES STRATUM MEAN? (Seriously, at one point I thought I understood what they meant, and then I got confused again.)

You know, that’s another sucky thing about me: I hate asking questions. Like, I like figuring things out for myself, and asking questions feels like I’m surrendering to this puzzle that’s been put before me instead of trying to figure it out with all the brain power and resources I can possibly muster on my own. That is… not normal of me. And it’s not very academic of me. That’s something I should start trying to fix.

Another thing I need to start… well, keep trying to fix is my confidence. I’m now getting to the part of my education where I’m going to be doing in-depth and unique work, and I need to be able to explain and defend it to my peers. That is something that is soooo not in my nature. Last semester, one of my professors told me, “You know, I really admire that you’re always so brave in your papers – you really try and tackle an analysis even when it’s really challenging.” Or something along those lines. Huh? That totally baffled me. I mean, it’s phonology, trying to analyze as much of the data as possible is what it’s all about, right? I mean, it was a compliment I guess, but now I’m a little worried that I have no concept of what I’m doing in relation to what others are doing. I mean, being brave is when you’re scared but do it anyway (side note: I knew I was paraphrasing something, turns out it’s Ned Stark, yesssss) – not realizing there’s any reason to be scared is just being stupid, right?

And honestly, my automatic reflex for most things I do, especially things I do well, is to react that it’s really not a big deal. Like… going to China almost on a whim by myself, graduating summa cum laude (oh god, I’m embarrassed to even type it, but it’s a good example so I’m exposing it)… most things, especially academic, that I accomplish – I just have this feeling that it’s not a big deal. I mean, I just do stuff. I do stuff that I like, and it’s done, and whatever. Why would anybody care? I guess maybe this comes from kids being mean to me when I was a teacher’s pet, so I’ve been downplaying my academic accomplishments ever since. Or from the fact that school has always been relatively easy for me so I’ve never felt like I’m putting a whole lot of effort into it (again, I’m really embarrassed to type that, please please don’t hate me). Whatever it is, it’s detrimental now, because my job as a PhD student is essentially to convince people that what I’m saying is important. THIS IS SO HARD, GUYS. Especially when my automatic reaction is to not think anything I’m doing is important, or particularly clever or original. I always, consistently, assume that everyone else knows better than me. This is such a problem! The whole freaking point of a PhD is to be the one person, on the whole face of the freaking earth, who knows the most about your topic. It’s a small topic, sure, but when you write that dissertation, you are now the fucking expert on that shit. At least until the next PhD candidate comes along to disagree with you.

So, basically, I really have to start pretending I know what I’m talking about. Fake it til you make it, right? Oh god, I can’t believe it’s come to that. This means that I am going to be wrong a lot, and I am going to make wrong assertions a lot, and I am going to look like a fucking asshole because I said this thing was right when it’s clearly wrong. Is that how normal people live? They just constantly make mistakes and carry on? Aughhhhh I HATE MAKING MISTAKES!

Aaaaaaaaaand BAM. Therein lies my problem. GET THE FUCK OVER IT SARA, EVERYONE DOES IT AND NO ONE IS AN ASSHOLE FOR IT. And believing that is just something I will have to fake it til I make it for too.

Soooo yeah. Not depressed, excited for the semester, but just a little bit apprehensive about the future and annoyed at my internet.

Not you though, my lovely public.

Speaking of my public, Becky, why haven’t you commented since the first entry? This is all for you, baby! Well, also for Jessica, and for Spencer, and for whatever random Coconuts find this link from twitter, but a lot for you. Just sayin’. 😛

Aaaand with that, I’m out til my next problem I have to vent about!

Hello Darkness, My Old Friend

15 Aug

I’ve come to talk with you again.

Did you know I hated myself for ten years? Yep. From approximately ages ten to twenty, I was totally convinced I was not only a waste of space stealing oxygen from those who deserved it more, but also a deeply terrible person who deserved only perpetual punishment for things I hadn’t done yet but was surely capable of doing.

Some counseling, drugs and most of all a personnel change helped turn me around and now I think I’m not a terrible person. I may be boring and a bit aloof but I try to be nice and stuff. My friends may be a bit weird, but they’re not totally crazy for liking me.

But occasionally, I suppose, a day like this past one happens. A day where I wonder what the point is of me existing on this earth the way I exist.

It started innocently enough. The news was on – don’t ask me what show or channel, it was only watched for a brief but ultimately fatal moment – and a study from the University of Virginia was reported about how couples who pray together tend to fare better as couples. Well, I’m pretty against organized religion, but apart from that, I didn’t get how that qualified as news. Anyway, my dad looks at me and sees my dubious look in my eyes and gets the same one on his face. He wonders aloud how much money was spent on that study.

Now, I’m not a sociologist – I assume this was done through a sociology department – but I am a linguist, which is also a social science. So I thought about what we get in research grants from the government. I don’t know any exact figures – yet, at least, since I’m going to be  research assistant on an NSF-funded project next year – but I do know that some biology and chemistry programs get millions for their research, and there’s no way in hell we get that much. So I told my dad, “Well, probably not that much.”

“Well,” he replied, “even $25 would have been too goddamn much.”

Obviously my dad wasn’t making any connection between my work and the work of sociologists at Virginia, but I sure did. And boy, let me tell you, did it sting. No, let me rephrase that – boy does it sting.

I’m a linguist. I’m only a second-year grad student, but let’s face it – I’m pretty good. I’m interested, fairly involved, have various research interests… I’m not like the most genius of geniuses, but hey, I’m pretty damn good at linguistics for a second-year. But, you know, I’m not figuring out how to outmaneuver politicians and businesspeople in order to feed starving people in third-world countries. I’m not learning how to save people’s lives. I’m not figuring out how to cure cancer, or AIDS, or even the common cold. I’m not doing anything useful. I’m interested in doing things like: hypothesizing how second-language learners process a sound they don’t have in their native inventory; deciphering the tonal system of an understudied African language; and breaking down how we really store language sounds in our brain.

And when you summarize linguistics terms for non-linguists, it often sounds stupid. Yeah, I study how people talk. Well, don’t we already know that? Well, I study how you move your tongue when you talk. No, that doesn’t sound retarded at all. And that’s why I’m sure that this study in the news was very over-simplified for the public. There were probably a lot more complications and actually interesting things being studied. I’m sure the researchers both a) had a party about their work being on TV and b) had a fit about how it was nigh inaccurate the report was so bare-bones.

So, yeah, knowing that my dad thinks that study is worthless… doesn’t make me feel too good about my upcoming studies I hope to start soon.

My dad and I have had kind of a rocky relationship, too. Let me put it in a bit of perspective, ignoring all the emotional turmoil between us and focusing on the personality stuff.

My dad is a groundskeeper. He was born and raised blue-collar, and frankly, he’s quite defensive about it. He’s too proud of it. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being lower middle class, but my dad is one of those people who has to make sure you know it. Rub it in your face and all that.

My parents fly an American flag over their garage. My dad wanted to fly two, but my mom said no, because it looks ridiculous. My dad drives a pick-up truck, and always has. He listens to Toby Keith and loves that line, “We’ll put a boot in your ass, it’s the American way.” He doesn’t actually treat people of other races and nationalities differently than he does white Americans, but he does like to use offensive terms to describe situations and inanimate objects that piss him off, his favorites being “Puerto Rican” this and “N****r-rigged” that. Yes, my dad will occasionally use the N-word. He tries not to, but his father used it so much – and with genuine racist hate too, unlike my dad – it’s a rather ingrained habit. My dad doesn’t listen to the hippie music me and mom do. He often tells my mom that while she was pondering the meaning of life, he was out living it. He thinks that immigrants should all learn English and that most of them who have trouble doing so are lazy. (But if you dare suggest that any immigrant friend of his has less-than-stellar English, he’ll tell you that you need to get your ears checked.) He believes that one’s roots are very important, and you should always remember your roots.

One of my favorite quotes is from Shawn Phillips (a favorite musician I’ve been trying to plug on Bley’s blog, on twitter, and on my IWC facebook):  “Once, when asked by a very famous Texas blues musician, ‘Hey man, you come from Texas.  How come you got so far away from the roots?’  I replied, ‘because there’s a whole tree above the ground.'”

So, that shows you how different my dad’s ideology is from mine.

I guess that I should just let it roll off my back and not let it bother me, since we agree to disagree on other things. But it’s… so hard. Is what I’m doing really worthless and shitty? Is it really fucking stupid and meaningless? Is there any point to my life? Why don’t I just die and it would do the world just as much good as me studying something so stupid and pointless as linguistics? And I’m not even going to be rich. What the fuck is the point of going to school for like 25 years if you’re going to be rich, right? Unless you’re helping people. No, I’m just sitting on my fat lazy ass doing something I absolutely love for no apparent fucking reason.

And everybody always talks about how smart I am, I’m so smart, I’m so smart, I’m so fucking goddamned intelligent. Is that all there is to say about me? Is that really all there is? Is that it? I guess I’m not that funny, I’m not that nice. I’m not that interesting. I’m not that useful. I don’t know what the fuck else I have, then. Why can’t I do something useful with my intelligence?

It’s one thing when your dad does things you don’t approve of. But it’s different when you do things your dad doesn’t approve of. I’ve realized that I’ve been spending so much energy in my adult life really trying to make my dad what I think is a better person. I’ve been trying to teach him about things I’ve learned about people while I’m traveling. I’m really trying to show him that diversity is something to be embraced and enjoyed rather than feared and scoffed at. I’m trying… I’m just trying so damn hard.

And although my mom has a more open-minded ideology than Dad’s, even she is in her little culture-box and doesn’t want to see out of it, to a degree. I don’t know. The thing is, I know I’m not who they wanted.

My parents tell me they’re proud of me. I don’t know what exactly they’re proud of, but whatever. I guess I believe them. Or I guess I believe that they believe they’re proud of me, even though I don’t know what that means. But I cannot, I just cannot believe that they don’t feel any disappointment. I’m sure they could tell me that with a straight face, but I don’t think I will ever, ever believe them.

They can’t tell me that they never longed to have a daughter who’s nice, outgoing, sociable, and cares about people, openly. They can’t tell me they never wanted a daughter who uses her stunning intelligence for something noble, like medicine. They can’t tell me they never wanted a daughter that they can brag to others just got this great job doing something really practical. They can’t tell me that they never wanted a daughter who gave sports a go, even if she wasn’t that good at them, and enjoyed the competition. They can’t tell me that they don’t wish for a daughter who’s completely genuine all the time and not jaded by life into a person who sees far beyond the surface and knows that most people are a slave to the man. They sure can’t tell me they didn’t want a daughter who would settle down nearby with a nice man and give them grandchildren.

My dad still talks about how I could get a job at a university near home, as if he takes it for granted that it’s something that I’d want.

I DON’T WANT TO LIVE NEAR HOME, I WANT TO GET THE FUCK AWAY FROM YOU AND YOUR STUPID SUBURBANITE LIFE WITH YOUR STUPID FUCKING 2 CARS IN THE GARAGE, A CHICKEN IN THE POT AND 2.5 KIDS AMERICANA SHITTY ASS MISERABLE MEANINGLESS FUCKING LIFE.

They would never, ever admit to being disappointed in me, in who I am. They never would. And I know they love me. But I know, I just know that they wanted someone different for a daughter. They’re loving the one they’re with, as it were, instead of mourning not being able to be with the one they love wanted. I KNOW IT. I wish they would just tell me, for once. They don’t respect a lot of my decisions and they’re disappointed that I’m not more of a pleasant person.

I should be grateful that my dad loves me, but I can’t help not being satisfied. I want his respect. But until I become a successful doctor or businesswoman, settle down near home and pop out at least one kid, that’s not going to happen.

I guess I oughta get used to being a complete fucking failure.

I’m never going to quit linguistics, and the reason is so simple. I love it. I absolutely love it. It brings me such joy, honestly. But what does that say about me? Something so useless, and I love it. I may as well fucking love clay pots as far as the rest of the world is concerned. And I’m never going to have children, partially because I’d be an utterly terrible, abusive mother, and partially because the world is such a difficult place to live in, how could I create a human life knowing that? Knowing what they’ll have to go through to keep living. Knowing their inevitable suffering. I just… I couldn’t make a person just to put them through that. No fucking way.

And I’m not going to get a job in intelligence, and the next person who suggests that upon hearing I’m a linguist will be in serious physical danger. (Not really… I’m a pacifist. But seriously, shut up, people.) I’m not going to be an assistant to the next Manhattan project. The government does way too much killing for my liking.

So I’m hoping I’m going to move to Europe, hopefully a city, and teach linguistics at a university. Keep researching. Never retire. Well, maybe on paper, but never stop doing linguistics. I’ll have dogs and cats and no kids. Husband optional. Parents very disappointed. But I guess they’ll have to live. And I guess I’ll have to live with being a useless human being too, because that’s what I’m fucking doing and that’s that, and I really have to not give a fuck what anyone thinks.

Even my dad.

Ugh, this is hard.

The Three S’s

7 Aug

This isn’t a rant, it’s just a… a thought. I don’t know.

I’ve been thinking about communication, and the efficiency thereof. So, this is actually sort of a blog about language, but not about linguistics, or at least the parts that interest me academically. It’s more of a… philosophy of communication blog entry.

Anyway, I’ve been thinking about how I communicate with my friends – my good friends, my best friends, the ones I know in and out, so to speak – versus how I communicate with strangers, with other friends, and with my mom. Mostly comparing my good friends to my mom.

See, my mom just talks a lot of the time. I mean, she just talks. She doesn’t even care if anyone is listening, she just says things. And – here’s where the rant part comes in – any time I’m in the same room with her, she takes it as an invitation to talk to me about her jewelry. Sorry mom, but I really don’t give a fuck about jewelry or gemstones. She’s not choosy about her words – not like me, who keeps my thoughts to myself unless I think I’ve got something important to say.

But the thing I really noticed about my mom is that she doesn’t really do sarcasm. I mean, she gets it, sort of. And she’ll use it sometimes, but not often. In a nutshell, she’s – for the most part – sincere. She does state the obvious (see previous blog entry about how much I hate that) and say things that don’t need to be said, but she generally operates on a level of sincere and transparent communication.

This is very different from how I communicate with my friends, and even my brother, who’s developed the same type of sarcastic snarkiness that I have. It’s like we’re communicating on a different level. Our intentions are communicated to each other as clearly as my mom’s are to me, but it’s sort of a tip-of-the-iceberg phenomenon. I like how Jessica put our relationship: “We both hate the same people.” It’s true – not just the same individuals, but the same kind of people, the same attributes that plague the human race. We understand each other this way. So, when we talk about a certain person or type of behavior, we don’t have to say much. We don’t have to explain exactly why we like it or don’t, because we know the other understands all the intentions that go into our half of the conversation. And since we have all that understanding underneath the surface, we can use sarcasm and sardonicness and snarkiness all we want on the surface because we understand the truths we’re implying behind it. It almost becomes a game of how fun we can make our conversation with the aforementioned three S’s. So it seems much less sincere on the surface, and it certainly isn’t transparent, but it is chock full of honesty, and – since we’re mostly communicating non-verbally – intimacy.

Which is why it’s surprising, given the astounding ability my mom has to figure out what makes people tick and why they behave the way they do, that we haven’t developed such a rapport (which, by the way, took me at least 5 minutes of searching on google and wordreference.com to figure out because all I could think of was “repertoire”, which I couldn’t even spell, and that’s not it). But my mom is more interested in “figuring it out” – even when there’s nothing to figure out – than playing word games. Example: she still wonders what the lyrics to “Stairway to Heaven” mean. I don’t think they mean anything, man – you’ve been listening to it since 1971; it’s been thirty-nine years. Why not just give up and enjoy the music? But she enjoys the wondering. I just enjoy the problem-solving, putting pieces together, and figuring out – the game, as it were.

Part of it is generational, I suppose. Certain symbols are infused with meaning for different generations, and it makes sense that she wouldn’t know what certain things mean to me that I take for granted, like popped collars being the international symbol for douchebags. Another part of it is that she always wants to find the best in people. Me and my friends (I almost deleted that and typed “My friends and I” but fuck you, prescriptive grammar) are less interested in forgiveness. Perhaps I should consider this a fault, but I can’t. I need to set that limit of what I will tolerate in others’ behavior, or else I will get deeply, deeply hurt.

But I wonder if it really comes down to her not wanting, or knowing how, to play with discourse. How fun and interesting it is when we don’t say what we mean but at the same time communicate exactly what we mean! It’s as if we aspire to make our life like The Colbert Report. Okay, not that drastic – there’s still a lot to be said for open verbal assaults, whether of the “I hate you” or “I love you” kind – but the idea is that such communication is fun, and I like fun. Okay, I like this kind of fun, anyway. I like to have fun when I communicate as much as I can. And I can do that with my friends – and my brother, and a lot of people who think this way in general – because there’s no need for explicit communication. We know what the other means.

Incidentally, this must be what made writing my Honors Thesis so tough. My advisor told me to “be explicit” I don’t know how many times, but it took me several drafts to get it, at which point, I was like, “Ugh. Really?! Readers can’t figure that out on their own? You know what I mean!” But he didn’t know what I meant, because he hadn’t read the same sources I had, and wasn’t familiar with the subject language. We didn’t have that common iceberg underneath the surface. This continues to be a bit of a struggle for me – I tend to forget important details because I think they’re obvious, when they’re really only obvious to me.

I don’t know what the point of this is, I was just thinking about it, and now I’ve thought about it more, and I’ve come to sort of an explanation. I guess when I meet people, I am listening and watching to see whether we can come to an implicit understanding about what we mean about things. If it becomes clear that we see the same world very differently, then I know that communication will be mostly explicit and frustrating. Unless I find their approach to life interesting, in which case it’s explicit and interesting, but my interest is ultimately short-lived.

Interesting. Maybe tomorrow I’ll think this is all bullshit, but for now I think it’s interesting.

I’m not an angry person, really.

26 Jul

That’s why I haven’t updated this blog since the silverware incident. There hasn’t been anything to rant about, really. REALLY. I know you don’t believe me (BECKY) but it’s true. But just to tide you over (BECKY), here are some things that I do not like…

Sick dogs. Especially when they are old. And mine. I know they can’t live forever but I don’t want to accept it. I have never seen Belle NOT react when we fill her dish with food before, and it’s frankly scary. But at least she has been eating. So, I’m hoping that it’s not serious. But she’s eleven. It wouldn’t be crazy for her to have terminal cancer (which is definitely a Thing I Do Not Like). But I hope she doesn’t. The vet wants a second opinion and will have it for us on Wednesday, so… positive thinking FTW!

People who I think I like telling me they think Conan O’Brien is obnoxious. This is stupid of me. People are entitled to their opinions, however much I disagree. Also, Conan even calls himself an ass all the time. But then I’m like, ‘If they think Conan is obnoxious, then what do they think of me? I’m the girl who loves obnoxious people? Do they think I’m just a stupid punk youngster who doesn’t know anything? Are they right? Am I really a worthless and pointless human being?’ WHY THE FUCK CAN’T I TURN MY BRAIN OFF?! It’s clearly defective. At least I’ve gone through enough counseling to know that this is an unhealthy and stupid train of thought, and I don’t hate myself anymore, yadda yadda. But I can’t help feeling two inches tall, just for a moment, when someone who I previously had no conflict with calls Conan O’Brien obnoxious.

I just drank an entire bottle of Woodchuck cider in like 5 minutes. I was planning on savoring it. OH WELL.

I have only had like one serving each of fruit and dairy since last Tuesday. Just because I have Celiac doesn’t mean I eat exclusively gluten-free grains, people who were feeding me. (Related — Thing I Like: Grocery shopping)

Awkward silences, of the non-hilarious and long-lasting variety.

Stating the obvious. Repeating the obvious and already-known. Things of this nature. It’s an INTP thing, which can cause problems for me. Saying things that we both know, or should know, doesn’t really count as a conversation, and it is silly and inane and pointless, and wasted breath. If you’re not going to give me new information, then amuse me. If you can’t do either, don’t say anything at all. God, I am such a bitch. But let me give you an example of somebody who agrees with me:

Thanks, Randall Munroe. Thanks for having my back.

Anyway, that’s all from me today, and I hope I have something to be happy about on Wednesday!