Tag Archive: Philosophy


There are few things that I truly take seriously. Grammar, Virtual Villagers, Guitar Hero, among other things. I probably wouldn’t murder anyone over any of these things, but they often command my focus and effort completely.

Dating is not one of these things.

Obviously, I’ve dated so much that I can barely stand up straight without buckling underneath the weight of my immense knowledge. In other words, I’ve been on a total of five dates since I turned sixteen, a little more than two years ago, which sounds sad until you compare with my 22 year old “twin” brother, who hasn’t ever been on a date, or so he claims.

Because of my rather casual outlook on dating in my current situation, I thought it would be a brilliant idea to join a dating website (or two). At the time, I had recently(ish) turned eighteen, which is a requirement for most dating websites. I started this endeavor purely as a joke and wasn’t really expecting anything. After a few weeks, it turned into an experiment which has yielded some interesting results.

Being the highly scientific person that I am, we’ll do this properly.

Step one of the scientific method: Ask a question.

I guess the question sort of was, “Hey, why don’t I go on a dating site? It’ll be funny!” But the question really is, 1) Do guys on dating websites act differently than guys irl (if you’ll pardon my chatspeak) or on other social websites (in regard to myself)? and 2) Can I manage some sort of connection with people who are seemingly desperate for… something… I’m not sure what… without being sarcastic or offensive? I suppose the second question is just a sort of personal goal. If these people are truly desperate, then their hopes and dreams will be easily crushed. I don’t want  to be a dream crusher.

Step Two: Do background research.

This is where all those hours spent on the internet come in handy. I know how people interact on the internet outside of a dating website. I also know how they act irl… sort of.

Step Three: Construct a hypothesis.

My hypothesis is (or rather, was) that guys on dating websites would fall into two categories: extremely nice/polite, or extremely cocky. They are likely to be more open about their intentions and feelings and they will say many a cheesy cliche in order to impress me. My other hypothesis was that I, personally, would receive a lot of communications from these people because they are desperate and because they don’t know me, therefore they will prey upon me like something with teeth devours a tiny bunny… (Can you tell that I gave up on finding a clever metaphor)(If I were a bunny, I would be freaking awesome)

Step Four: Test your hypothesis by doing an experiment.

Basically, the experiment was to make myself a profile on a few websites and then see what happened. For each site, my success is measured by amount of messages received. One of the sites had a way to track who viewed your profile, but there’s this system that randomly chooses people who may or may not have anything in common with you and show your their profile. There was also this questionnaire thing you can do that will let you know, via percentage, how much of a “match” you are with someone else. I figured that this was all way too complicated to factor in (being as lazy as I am).

Each user I received a message from is ranked according to length of message conversation and quality of that conversation. They are ranked on a scale from one to five, one being boring or creepy and five being compelling.

Step Five: Analyze your data.

Obviously I’m not going to share names or anything because this is the internet and there’s a very slim chance that someone who I’ve talked to on one of those websites could be reading this and that would just be awkward.

Anyway. Data.

Plenty of Fish:

8 message conversations total

2, 3, 1, 1, 2, 5 3, 5

The problem with the people that I talked to on this website, was that most of them either immediately wanted to go on a date with me, which I can’t because my mom said no and because I don’t really want to go on dates with guys seven billion years older than me, or they outright tried to pay me for sex which was more comical than anything else, though it took me some awkward explaining to get out of.

The exceptions (those two little fives) were actually very compelling, however. One shared some of my same philosophies and love of big words, while the other shared my passion for exchanging large amounts of random information in a rambly sort of way. Not to mention they had actual interests besides desperately wanting to take me on a date.

Ok Cupid (I just feel it really weird to admit that I didn’t run screaming from these websites and their horrible names):

14 message conversations total

4, 2, 2, 5, 5, 1, 1, 1, 4, 5, 0, 4, 3, 5

I realize that a 0 is kind of against the parameters set, but SERIOUSLY. This goes beyond creepy. There are people who want to pay me for sex (though they were incredibly understanding about my refusal), and there are intensely desperate people…. and then there’s this guy. I literally feel unsafe, though he lives, like, 7000 miles away from me.

Anyway. I was much more pleased with this website than the other. The profiles were much more informative, the interface was easier to navigate, and the people were more awesome. It seems like there were more people with legitimately interesting personalities, though none of them really have exemplary grammar skills.  I’m not rushing off to marry any of them and I don’t think I’d be comfortable actually meeting them, but they are very nice people to talk to, though sometimes I find myself actually having to carry some weight in the conversation. I am not really very good at instigating conversation, but I’m okay at feeding the fire. The problem is that some of those people are brilliant conversation killers.

Step Six: Make a conclusion.

I was pretty much wrong, which isn’t a surprise. There were polite people and there were cocky people, but there were also interesting people and I can never have imagined them as individuals until I could see that they were.

I wasn’t really surprised about how many messages I got, though. The thing about the internet is that you can be pretty picky about what you show people and, though you may think you’re accurately portraying yourself, you can present yourself as a completely different person. I really hope that I portray myself accurately on the internet. As you can see, I always provide as much information as possible for the sake of clarity, but I still lack an appropriate mirror that I can use to describe myself accurately.

I don’t really know how other people see me, but I do know enough, by the way people treat me, to be able to tell the difference between the perceptions. In real life, because of my social status, because of my physical appearance and presence, because of my continuance, I know that I would never have come into contact with most of these people I have communicated with over the last month. The difference between judging a person based on a profile and judging a person based on what I listed above is that a profile contains information that is tailored toward making a person appealing, while the things apparent in real life are often subconscious and not totally controlled.

For different reasons, I have decided that making a deep connection with someone (not necessarily romantic) cannot be done easily on the internet. I won’t say it’s impossible because I’m sure someone out there has done it. A relationship can’t be built only on shared interests and ideas. There are many people I share such things with on those dating websites, but none of them really appeal to me in any way other than conversation buddies. A relationship is strengthened by communication and trust, but it’s built on sharing more than ideas.

It’s the sharing of activity and memories that makes a relationship. I’m not saying that if you spend all your time with your boyfriend or girlfriend you’ll suddenly have a fantastic relationship, but I know that I feel more strongly for people that I’ve shared experiences with than people that I’ve shared mere conversations with. Not only do I participate in planned activities with them, but I just spend time with them. We talk about things, yes, but it isn’t what we’re talking about that matters. It’s that we’re sharing something of ourselves. We’re giving more than just a few words on a screen.

We give something important to each other when we give our time and attention. It just seems more special to laugh about something with someone than it is to laugh at something someone wrote an hour ago.

What I’ve learned from this is that, while dating websites can be a useful way for people to start relationships, it’s in no one a place where one can build a relationship. It can be done, but only in ideal circumstances.

If you’ve read this far, then I congratulate you. This may be the longest blog post I’ve ever written, which is saying something. Basically, the advice I would give you if you want to use online dating is that if you want people to take a genuine interest in you, you need to have a good profile picture (because I judged the crap out of people just by their profile pictures) and you need to not sound like you’re trying to woo someone. Treat them like a person. Talk to them about things that you can both converse about or it’s going to be awkward, don’t be delusional about the nature of online relationships, and please don’t ask people questions about things that can be found on their profiles. Read the entire thing so that you don’t sound like a dork.

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In my head, the title of this post had an entirely different set of implications than it does now that I see it on the screen. It reminds me of the Legend of Zelda games. No one really talks, they just make noises and occasionally laugh, but Link goes throughout the entire game never responding to anything with more than a nod or a confused look. I think the mood of the game would be entirely different if he did respond.

Anyway, I was going to start off talking about boredom. When it comes to just about every non-adult that I know, people get bored so easily that I’m surprised that there aren’t armies of hyper-motivated kids running about getting things done. I’m not really sure of what is going on in the brain when you’re bored, so I’m not even going to guess (though I may look up an article later, if I suddenly become motivated), but one of the things that couples with boredom is lethargy.

Now, I rarely get bored. I probably say that I’m bored, but I have a hard time actually feeling like I need to get up and do something or have something to do. I do, however, get lethargic. In fact, I am usually very lethargic. I’m a very passive learner. A lot of people are/claim to be hands-on learners, which is magnificent, but I would actually rather not get my hands on anything. When we do labs and such things in my science classes, I always imagine myself getting into the things and doing it well, but there’s always the moment when we’re actually standing in the lab with our stupid goggles on and I panic.

I know people who refuse to go on dates to a movie because of the decreased amount of interaction they can have with their date. People usually feel the same way about education. They need to interact with it and put forth physical effort in order to learn it, but I would much rather sit in a classroom and have a teacher lecture me about a subject or watch a documentary (which I do pretty often).

This need to be doing something in order to have gratification leads people to be bored, I believe. It’s probably the reason that I rarely get bored, coupled with the fact that I have a hard time keeping track of time.

Whenever I go to physical therapy, they have me lay on heat pads for fifteen minutes. They turn the lights off and close the door and I lay there staring at the ceiling. I have no way of telling time because my phone is usually in my pocket and I’m wearing one of those highly fashionable gown things that tie in the back and hang down past my knees, so I can’t get to my pocket. Most people would find this infuriating. There is nothing to do, though sometimes I can hear music playing in the waiting room or the therapist having some sort of conversation with someone else out in the hallway. I don’t find it boring, though. I really like just laying in the dark and not having to do anything.

Another example was yesterday while I was out with my parents buying my mother a new mini-van. I didn’t want to stay home with my little brother and sister because they’re annoying, so I opted to go with my parents, who are a little less annoying. We drove around a bunch and we ate lunch and then we drove around in a bunch of mini-vans before my mother had decided on one. This took several hours in which I just sat in the back  seat of whatever vehicles and half-listened to my father talk about car-buying. Then while my parents were inside this building thing with the old-guy salesman who flirted with me at one point (this actually happens to me a lot), I decided to stay out in the car.

First of all, I don’t like going into places where there are people and the van that my mom got is SUPER dark inside and I like the dark, so I sat in there for nearly an hour and a half. I didn’t have any music, though I could have used my phone, and I didn’t really want to do anything, so I just sat there thinking about whatever. I like doing that.

Now, I know that once you’ve turned 8 or 9 years old, it isn’t cool to have an imagination any more until you get to high school and they tell you to be an individual, which you do by having the same sorts of ideas as everyone else, BUT… I like to pretend. That’s what I do when other people are being occupied with boredom. It sounds pretty dumb and maybe it is, but I think it actually helps me with my ability to come up with a believable scenario with no major plot holes. Sometimes I think of the plot of a novel I want to write and run through it in my head, working out all the bits that don’t really make any sense.

Sometimes I talk to myself about things (this blog post is quickly becoming a confession of sorts, isn’t it?). In fact, the next blog post that I plan to write (on the topic of expectations), is a conversation that I’ve had with myself before. If I notice something about someone, sometimes I discuss it with myself until I’ve worked out a bunch of things about it. I don’t specifically remember all of them, but I think it helps me understand things better. I’m actually really bad at understanding things, so I spend all my extra time thinking about things so that I can understand them like people I know all seem to.

My thought processes can’t really be described as “adventures”, but it sounded like a good blog title in my head and I’m not changing it.

Beginnings

Yesterday I posted on Facebook a lot. I got very excited about the documentary series that I was watching and when I get excited about stuff i put it on Facebook/Twitter. One of the things I said had nothing to do with documentaries, however, but it was sort of related in that I was knitting a hat for someone whilst I was watching the documentaries. As amateur knitters will know, it’s hard to find a pattern online for something that you want to make because you have an image in your mind of what you want the thing to look like, but you don’t have the skill or knowledge to make it exactly like that and there usually isn’t a pattern exactly like what you want. Even if there is a good pattern, there is usually something wrong with it, such as it ends up looking different than the little pictures or that it takes circular or dpn needles (<– “dpn needles” is redundant, I realize, but I couldn’t figure out a different way to write it) and you only have straight needles (this is a big problem if you’re trying to make a hat or a glove).

I usually have a lot of these problems when I use patterns, but I think I’m getting to the point where I can manipulate a pattern to do what I want it to do.

My current project is for a former teacher(/friend) of mine. I’ve already blogged about this. It’s a bearded hat. I had many adventures trying to figure out the beard part (of course, now I have a beard and, like, seven mustaches, so I don’t really mind all that much), but that issue was resolved, thankfully. I saved the easy part of the project for last: the beanie. I’ve knitted a beanie before, so I figured that it wouldn’t be all that big of a deal, seeing as there are a million patterns on the internet for hats. I even found one for straight needles fairly quickly, to my amazement.

I had the yarn and the pattern and I had my documentaries and I was rather pleased with myself. It didn’t take me long to finish the hat (considering that I have a million problems of AP Chemistry homework at any given moment), unfortunately, the pattern that was supposed to fit an adult’s head barely fit on my own head. My head is far smaller than the person’s head that I’m making the hat for. Not that I’m calling his head big, but it is in relation to mine.

This isn’t that big of a deal, seeing as I’m used to having to do projects over in order to get the result I was going for. I adjusted the pattern so that it will hopefully fit the person’s head and then I began to cast on. As I complained about on Facebook, I hate the cast on and first row of knitting projects. The stitches are always really tight and there’s a ton of yarn-slack in between all the stitches and it’s really annoying. I put this general complaint in my Facebook status and made an attempt to connect with people who also knit. The first comment, however, was someone who didn’t knit, but understood that beginning something was usually the hardest part of the project.

I think most people would agree with that (except for over-thinkers who just like to disagree with every cliche’ ever…. *cough*), though there could be a reasonable argument against it. For example, life starts out pretty easy for us. We don’t have to feed ourselves or anything, we just lay there and cry. Actually, in the documentary I was watching, they were discussing all the things that babies do to bond with their caregivers and make sure that they do what they want them to do…

An example in favor of this idea was the month of August. August is the second month of CampNaNoWriMo and I was going to write the sequel to the novel that I had written in June. However, I was very tired from doing stuff the week before and when I sat down to start the novel, I got stuck after the first paragraph and just gave up. I’m notorious for giving up on things easily. It’s not that I’ll give up on anything that seems hard at the beginning, but I will give up on it if I don’t think it’s worth my effort. Granted, most things aren’t really worth the effort for me, but there are some things that I am passionate about and I put a lot of effort into them.

Another way to cope with things being hard at the beginning is procrastination. I’ve written about this already, as well, here. I also procrastinate doing things that will be hard, even if I enjoy doing them. I actually enjoy sitting down and doing my homework because I usually think that the topic is interesting (unless it’s math)(Okay, some math is compelling, I just don’t like doing things I’m not good at). Unfortunately, I have been far too exposed to the negative connotations that accompany homework and therefore I procrastinate on it. The problem is that, while I’m procrastinating something that I really should do, it sort of feels…. good? I mean, finishing things and not having things to do feels nice (albeit weird), but when I’m not doing something that I dread doing, I feel like I’m resting.

There are some people (my father) who can’t stand to lay in bed once they’ve initially awakened. I love it, however. Instead of having boring things to think about (I never have boring thoughts), your thought-process is half-way in a dream and I LOVE dreaming. I like how it feels to be dreaming. Even when it’s a scary dream. It feels nostalgic. Also, I feel like when I wake up and have to deal with being awake, it’ll be terrible, so I don’t want to start the day. Not that I get to sleep in very often. when I do, however, i use the incentive that when i wake up I get to eat food and I like eating food even more than I like sleeping or eating.

So, if you were expecting some inspirational end to this blog-post wherein I tell you how important it is to begin things and try things and whatnot, I’m not going to. Stop being so passive and make your own list of reasons why it’s important to start things. I’m too lazy.

Knitting versus Crocheting

First of all, I have no idea why old people are allowed to knit. It would seem that only old ladies knit or crochet. They shouldn’t be allowed to knit because apparently holding your arms up and working on something in front of you puts a lot of strain on your back and shoulders. I can attest to this because my physical therapist told me not to knit (or do the dishes) because it would make my shoulders sore and he is right. Whenever I spend a lot of time knitting, my shoulders get stiff and hurt. Naturally, I don’t listen to my physical therapist and spend a whole lot of time knitting stuff anyway, but I do everything else he says, so it’s not so terrible… right?

Anyway, recently I have been working on a project that internet-savvy people probably know about: a bearded hat. It’s pretty much a beanie with a knitted beard attached to the front. I’d put a picture here, but I’m lazy. Go Google it.

I did a little bit of research before I started the project to try to scope out what pattern would be the best for what I was imagining in my head. After much Googling, I had decided one thing; a beard that is crocheted would probably look better than one that is knitted. The problem being, of course, that I cannot crochet. I’m pretty sure that I was taught to at one point in my life, but I think I learned to knit four separate times before I stopped forgetting, so my learning to crochet previously was pretty irrelevant.

Instead of trying to wade through my mother’s explanation of amateur crocheting, I turned to my trusty internet to learn how. It took me several days of talking about learning how to crochet before I actually acted on it, but one of the most common things that I heard whilst talking about learning to crochet was that it is easier than knitting.

Knitting is pretty freaking easy, in my opinion, but all of these crocheting people that I spoke to kept saying that it was way too  hard for them. Quite frankly, I didn’t believe them. Only one person made any sense to me, saying that whichever thing you learn first, knitting or crocheting, is the easiest for you to understand.

Apparently the people I talked to had learned to crochet before they’d learned to knit and thus found it harder to knit. This interests me a lot in the same way that languages interest me. When people grow up learning a language that is a different language than English, I find it inconceivable that they can make any sort of sense out of anything. That actually sounds sort of ridiculous when I write it out, but I have a hard time understanding the concept of language in general (which is probably why I find myself so fascinated by it).

Eventually, after buying some supplies, I began my knitting experience. It went terribly. I can understand knit-speak and I can pretty much understand any sort of instructions because I’m familiar with the structure and how the loops of yarn fit together, but even the beginner instructions for crocheting stumped me. The loops didn’t look anything like the loops in knitting and I had no way to identify what loop was being talked about. I’m never really impressed with the quality of videos, so I didn’t go into video tutorials. What I need is to find one of my old-lady neighbors and have them teach me how to crochet things. Or I could just pay one of them to crochet me a beard.

I did finally find a pattern for knitting a beard that I don’t hate, but it’s a little uneven and I had to change the pattern a little bit. Unfortunately, the person I’m giving this bearded hat to thinks I’m a genius, but he’s also an extremely evolved individual that will probably be able to handle the fact that I am kind of a failure at doing things.

Pain

Every time I tell my mother that I have a pain somewhere, she always responds by telling me where she has a pain. If this has ever happened to you, then you’ll know that is infinitely infuriating. If you go to your mother with your pain, you’re probably expecting her to do something about it. You’re expecting her to use her magic Mom powers to fix the situation. This happened a few months ago between my cousin and her mother. My cousin was very unhappy with the unhelpful response she got, telling her mother that “the pain in your shoulder doesn’t make my foot hurt any less”.

This is an interesting concept. The pain of others doesn’t have an affect on your pain. Only it does.

Sometimes when people are pain, they deal with it by causing the pain of others. This must make them feel better or they wouldn’t do it. On the other end of the stick, when you’re feeling pain, sometimes going to someone who is also experiencing pain and talking to them about it makes you feel better because you can feel their sympathy.

The one thing that is always true is that you never have a monopoly on pain. Ever. If you assume that you do have a monopoly on pain, you end up sounding obnoxious to other people because you are implying to them that their pain is not legitimate. Everyone’s pain is legitimate, even if it’s all in their head. If they can feel it, then it doesn’t matter what is causing it, no one should dismiss that pain.

This was all spurred on by a dream I had recently wherein I was talking to a friend of mine on a bench in a deserted hallway. This friend was describing to me how they were feeling a constant emotional pain. I’m not sure how the real me would have reacted to this situation, but the dream me responded first by acknowledging that the pain was legitimate. One of the things that I hate the most is when adults dismiss the emotional pain of a teenager because of hormones. Yes, most teenagers get more emotional because of hormones. Yes, it is a bit ridiculous when they feel like they’re the only one who feels pain. Yes, I understand that the pain is really coming from nowhere in particular and that people who focus on their pain in strange ways are… well… BUT, none of this matters because the ridiculous pain that teenagers feel is still pain and it still hurts.

I acknowledged that my friend’s pain was legitimate because, even if I don’t think there’s any reason why they should have been feeling that way, I knew that the pain was still real and I felt sympathy toward my friend. However, I did not merely sympathize with my friend. I am far more dramatic and wise and philosophical when I’m dreaming.

I gave my friend a piece of advice that would have been fabulous if this hadn’t been a dream. I told him that it was okay for him to feel pain, but that he had to figure out how to be okay with being in pain. Trust me, I said it in a much more profound way in the dream.

The thing is that I hate it when people let their emotional and/or physical pain affect their attitude. I’m not very sympathetic when people come to school and act depressed. It’s perfectly fine for them to be depressed, but do they really have to let it have such a dramatic effect? Not to be condescending (or to assume that my pain is more legitimate than anyone else’s pain), but I am in constant physical, and many times emotional, pain and I like to think of myself as a pretty energetic person. This doesn’t mean that anyone who is experiencing less than or an equal amount of pain as me doesn’t have the right to act like they’re in pain, I’m just saying that it doesn’t have to make you miserable.

What I meant in my advice to my friend is that your pain is a fabulous excuse to act miserable, but it’s an excuse that you shouldn’t use. I have a constant headache because of stuff (too lazy to explain said stuff). A lot of people get headaches. A lot of people act reserved or depressed or grumpy when they have headaches. I don’t. I already have a headache, why would I want to deal with acting horrid all the time as well. Instead of dwelling on it through the use of my attitude, I’m okay with it. I obviously don’t love it. No one wants to have a headache for as long as I’ve had a headache, but I’m not miserable because of it (unless I forget to take my drugs, but even then I try REALLY hard not to kill everyone…).

If your kind of pain is depression, acting depressed is actually going to make it worse. Act happy. Maybe you won’t feel completely better, but you may be able to trick your mind a little bit into thinking that you aren’t actually depressed. The same goes for my personal favorite type of emotional pain (*cough* sarcasm *cough*): anxiety. I’ve never had bad depression, so I’m not sure if bad depression can be shook off, so to speak, but I have had bad anxiety (and likely will in the future), so I realize that pretending isn’t always going to work. In the middle of a panic attack, there is no way that you can act unreserved as if everything is totally fine. Everything sucks in so that you can (try to) regain control. With physical pain as well. It gets unbearable. I understand that.

If your pain is unbearable, get help. I don’t care what it is. If your parents don’t believe you, lay down on the floor and wail until they do. No one should live with unbearable pain that can be fixed with professional help.

It’s unlikely that everyone’s pain is of the unbearable variety, however, so I’d say it isn’t necessary for everyone to act like they’re in pain. Although, there is the old, “if you hold in your pain, you will blow up” thing. It’s okay to talk about your pain, it’s okay to  try to fix it. Don’t just live with pain. Even if it isn’t unbearable, you still have the right to try to fix your pain. Do what you have to do, just try not to let your pain define you like it defines some people.

Most people I know, even some of my best friends, don’t know about my pain, for the most part, and they don’t need to. I don’t need their pity or sympathy and I do just fine without it.

Disclaimer: Everyone is different. Everyone has a different way to deal with their pain. I don’t mean to step on anyone’s toes or anything.

(Heck, who am I kidding? No one is reading this anyway) ;P

Language

Are you ready to hear what I’ve been thinking about this time? I think a lot… too much… it doesn’t really matter, though because no one reads this. I regret nothing.

I guess it’s pretty obvious what this blog post is about, seeing as I’ve titled it according to the subject I have in mind, though the people on Facebook who read the title and the first sentence won’t know specifically what I’ll be talking about because they’ll never click on the link. It really doesn’t anger me that they don’t. it just interests me that they have so little curiosity, especially when I make my blog posts sound SOOO interesting. I mean, the reason that the newspaper people put only half of the story on the front page is so that you have to turn to somewhere in the middle to find out the rest and that’s where all the other stuff they want you to read is.

Then there is the distinct possibility that I’m just not as exciting a writer as I imagine myself to be. Anyway, I digress (as usual).

One thing I’ve been thinking about lately is the concept of language. Language and the origin of language has always fascinated me, though for the most part, I’ve been too lazy to quench my thirst. I’ve been trying for years to convince my classmates and parents and friends and siblings and other various people that regulated language is important in the way of comprehension. If we don’t use our grammar rules, then there is a significantly higher chance that someone will misunderstand the meaning of what we write. Finally, today (not twenty minutes ago, in fact) I found a pretty good metaphor to explain the importance of grammar and proficiency in language.

Earlier, before my hand stopped functioning properly, I was practicing my violin. I had (have) a song stuck in my head that we played today in my Orchestra class and I was trying to play every other song I could think of to get it out. There’s something about playing or singing a song that gets it stuck in your head more easily than just listening to it. I’m not sure why I thought it would work since I spent two hours after school practicing the music for The Fiddler on the Roof (which happens to be the musical our drama department is doing this trimester) and more time besides that listening to plenty of other music, but I was attempting it anyway.

Despite a general lack of strength in my left hand (the source of which my physical therapist is constantly trying to locate), I’ve always been pretty good at playing the violin/music in general. Something that always surprises me, however, is when other people can’t understand some aspect of music theory that I find fairly simple. Of course, this happens in other classes too, but with music, it makes so much sense to me and there really isn’t a whole ton of stuff to remember. Music is so structured that you can’t help but understand it, once you’ve gotten the hang of it.

The same isn’t really true of the English language (/any language, pretty much), but for the most part, once you’ve learned the general rules, all the little details become either easy to understand or just easy to use (whilst writing, this is usually done accidentally). Music is it’s own language, really, so learning the rules is necessary in order to function within a setting where music is used to communicate (sort of).

If you have ever played in a musical group or sang in a choir, you’ll know that when people don’t follow the rules, the result is a mess. Even if your experience has been a friend (or yourself) who cannot sing, yet still tries to. It doesn’t work. Communication is impossible, people get confused, everyone becomes less confident, and there is no way you can play in harmony and balance when someone isn’t following the rules.

Every year at the end of the year, our school’s orchestra and band get together with the band and orchestra of our rival high school and we put on a concert. There’s this foundation that sets this up and they also get a guest director from somewhere to come and lead us. Usually they’re from some university or something. Last year, our director was this lady and the first time we rehearsed with her, our concert master got up to give the A (so that we could all tune our instruments) and handed her his violin so that she could make sure it was in tune. She then asked this question of our director:

“Do you still use a 440 A?”

The frequency of an A is 440 Hz. Our director, a little confused, answered that we indeed did. Her confusion was understandable because A is 440. That’s what it’s been for hundreds of years. Then, the guest conductor replied:

“Okay, I was just asking because there are some schools that have started using a 444 for their A.”

At the time, most of us laughed because this was such an absurd idea. It doesn’t matter who you are, you can’t just decide that an A isn’t an A any more.  I can’t imagine a world where people can just decide to change what we mean when we say that a certain note is an A or a B or whatever, but that’s the type of world we live in when it comes to the English language. People use slang words and make up words and just say/write/spell things however they want and they call it communication. Imagine if there was an orchestra wherein everyone’s A varied by just a few Hz. This would affect every note that everyone played because the A is the point at which we reference the tuning of all our other notes.

A few Hz isn’t all that much. In fact, if you play two notes that are only one or two Hz away from each other, you may not hear a discrepancy. When tuning in our high school orchestra, it’s usually pretty much okay if your strings are tuned one or two Hz away from another’s. This can be compared to people who have an average knowledge of grammar and actually try to write somewhat properly. It’s easy to understand each other and it’s pretty much good enough. Unfortunately, there are the people (internet people, I’m looking at you) who don’t even attempt to use any of the knowledge that they learned at school, if, indeed, they’re even educated. Those are the people slumped down in their chairs in the back of the orchestra whose pitches are off by more than a few Hz. Play two notes that are that far away from each other and even those with untrained ears can hear how awful it sounds.

When you’re orchestra is badly out of tune, no matter how fabulously you play all the notes, nothing is going to sound good because music is specifically engineered to sound pleasing because the wavelength/frequency of all the notes aligns and compliments the others and your notes can’t match up with the notes of anyone else because you aren’t in tune with them. If you want to know why music sounds good to us (when it’s in tune, I mean), then check out the Youtube channel of one Vihart. She made a fabulous video explaining it. It’s on there somewhere.

An orchestra can sound pretty good when it’s within a few Hz of each other. There really isn’t anything wrong with being average at using grammar either, but it’s not like we’re encouraged to be a few Hz off. The ideal would be for everyone to have perfect intonation. As I’ve played the violin for longer, the better I’ve gotten at tuning my instrument. I can hear smaller discrepancies and I can tune much more accurately. The same happens after you’ve done a lot of practicing with using proper grammar. You’re more accurate and their is less of a chance of you “being out of tune” or, in other words, misunderstanding/being misunderstood.

Everyone is always clammering about being understood. If you want to be understood so badly, then why don’t you give yourself a better chance and use the grammar skills that have been tossed at you during your duration of public schooling?

Appearances

Lately I’ve been thinking about appearances and the way that people represent themselves to the world. Sometimes people think that this is just an issue with teenaged people, but I refuse to believe that at the age of twenty people just suddenly stop caring what people think about them. They may think that they’ve stopped caring, but there’s still the chance that they’re hoping people will see them as someone who doesn’t care what people think about them.

This thought-process began a few days ago when I got to my Seminary class early. I have Seminary after lunch, so when I’m finished eating, I just go and hang out all by myself in the classroom. Fortunately, the classroom has a piano in it. I am not a pianist, but I can read the notes and I can play a few songs that I taught to myself. The important thing is that I love to play on the piano. You can play all of the notes at once if you want to. You can’t do that on a violin or other string instrument, though you can play four different notes, which is more than most band instruments (a constant weapon used in friendly Orchestra v.s. Band debates).

My list of songs that I can play is short: Late by Ben Folds, Nevermore by Queen, Loss of Me (Final Fantasy… IX?), Zanarkand (Final Fantasy X), Letting Go by Isaac Shepard, and Prison Food by Ben Folds. Each one of them, I learned painstakingly by doing the right hand first and then the left and then putting them together. It took me almost a year to learn to play Late.

Anyway, every day I would go into my Seminary classroom and play my songs on the piano until class started. Sometimes people are in the classroom before I stop playing and on this particular day, there was a sophomore girl in there and she asked me why I never played the piano during our opening hymn, seeing as I’m “so talented on the piano.”

I thanked her for thinking this, but then, as always, I had to explain to her that learning to play songs is very difficult to me, not to mention hymns (they’re just SO HARD to play… I don’t know what it is), not to mention playing the hymn while everyone else is singing. I think that whenever I tell someone that I’m not really all that good at playing the piano, they don’t quite believe me (seriously, though, I just dabble a little in playing the piano). Actions speak louder and whatnot because they just don’t seem to be able to believe that I’m not good at playing the piano after they’ve just heard me play a complicated sounding song.

It set me thinking, naturally. Because most of those sophomores in my class only ever see me playing pretty songs on the piano and answering questions philosophically, they will have a totally different perspective of me than that of the sophomores who are in my Orchestra class who are every day witnesses to my mistakes, bad jokes, and inability to be serious when I’m doing something that I enjoy so much. It’s not that I’m trying to seem like a different person, because I’m not, but because of the specific situation, I seem like a type of person that I’m not. Well… I am that person, but that’s not all I am.

This is one of the reasons that I almost (ALMOST) feel bad for judging people on Facebook. People post dumb things on Facebook. Heck, I post dumb things on Facebook. Some of those people posting things on Facebook are people that I don’t see every day. The only information that I have to judge them with (because everyone inevitably judges everyone else) is the stuff they provide for me via Facebook. It doesn’t even matter if I see them every day or not, actually, because I treat them as a different person. People seem different in real life than they do on Facebook and sometimes, when I’m dealing with one, I forget that the other exists.

Sometimes, when I am in a certain situation, I forget that all of the other me’s in all the other situations exist. For example, in my first hour class, AP Chemistry, I am tired-Emily. Tired-Emily makes bad jokes and laughs at everyone else’s bad jokes and doesn’t understand Chemistry. In my second hour class, Digital Photography, I am impatient-Emily who understands nearly everything that is being talked about and really would just like to get a move on. Impatient-Emily also gets really annoyed by the giggly girls who don’t understand anything about computers. It’s hypocritical because just an hour early, I was pretty giggly because of tiredness and I didn’t understand everything.

AP Chemistry-Emily is the real me. That’s how I act and I really don’t understand a lot of what we talk about. Digital Photography-Emily is the real me as well. I understand everything that he tells us and I want to just keep moving forward. I’m not pretending to be a different person, I don’t have multiple personality disorder, I’m just reacting differently to different situations.

This happens whenever I change situations. When I go to school, when I go to my next class, when I go to a friend’s house or a party, when I go home, I react differently to the situation depending on how comfortable I am with the people around me or wherever it is that I am or whatever it is that I am doing.

Sometimes I find it infinitely hard to remember that people are reacting differently to different situations before I judge them and sometimes I find it really easy. One good example is with driving. My mother likes to yell at people on the road, which is a perfectly legitimate way to deal with frustrations, but I think that she, like most people who get enraged with other people who are driving, has failed to factor in some things. I am almost positive that people yell at me all the time whilst I am driving. I am bad at driving. I am really bad at driving. I’m surprised I haven’t died in a fiery crash yet. So, what if the person who my mom is yelling at for cutting her off is some timid student driver who doesn’t know what they’re doing? If my mother, or anyone else, knew the person’s situation would they react differently to the situation? Maybe not, but I never get angry at people who are bad at driving because I’m probably worse.

Likewise, whenever someone does something that really annoys me, I really try to understand why they’re doing what they’re doing. Sometimes it’s the way they pronounce a word incorrectly and all I have to think about is the development of speech in children. Children learn how to speak by listening to their parents and other speaking people around them. They probably heard the word they’re saying wrong said wrong a million times, which would mean that it’s not necessarily their fault that they’re saying it wrong. I’m not sure whose fault it is, but it doesn’t really have to be anyone’s fault. This way, I can be annoyed with how imperfectly the person was taught to speak instead of being annoyed with them personally.

It doesn’t always work, but it is a good strategy most of the time.

It constantly interests me to try to imagine what I appear as to people in a certain situation. An action that may not be significant to me because I’ve lived through all of the other situations/reactions in my life may be significant to someone who can only see one reaction to one situation.

Hope this makes you all EXTREMELY self-conscious for the rest of your lives.

Goal-Setting

Up until I passed my 100th post, every time I posted, there would be a little line telling me how many posts I had and giving me a small goal to reach, but after I passed 100, it stopped giving me goals to reach and then rewarding me when I reached them. I found this very annoying until it stopped. Now I am disappointed that I don’t have a goal to work toward.

I’m not really one for making goals because I don’t really care about them and I find them ridiculous. I know people that need to have goals to accomplish or else they don’t feel like they’re doing anything productive, whereas I feel productive when I do anything at all. I know that it’s important to set goals so that they motivate you to reach them, but I don’t feel like we should decide what the line is that we can reach to feel good about ourselves. Life seems like it would be so much more than just a bazillion different little lines or marks that we need to pass, like the mile markers on roads.

Our family went on a trip to California last summer. We drove all the way from Utah. I’m not sure how many miles that is, but it took us ten hours(ish) to get there. The entire time we were driving, I was either sleeping or watching the mile markers. Mile markers fascinate me, for some reason, especially the ones that we saw on our trip, seeing as the little markers look different depending on what state you’re in. In California, the mile markers didn’t just have the number of the mile you were at, they had a whole bunch of things on the sign (also, they were white with black writing instead of green with white writing, like they are in Utah). It took me a week of staring at them with hypnotic fascination to figure out that they stated the mile, the highway/name of the road, and the county that you were driving in.

The point is that my father kept giving us the number of miles to where we were going, seeing as he had no idea how long it would take us to get there, so I kept staring at the signs, keeping track of how many miles we had gone so that I would know when we would arrive. This probably kept me from seeing a lot of things on our trip. I’m sure there were cool things to see, but I missed them because I was staring at the same part of the side of the road, waiting for the next mile marker. I do this whenever we drive anywhere. I like knowing how many miles we’ve gone. This is where I tie the story in with what I was talking about:

Little goals can sometimes be like mile markers. If we keep obsessing over them, we’re going to miss some stuff. Now that I think about it, little goals are also like pennies. Maybe they are more like pennies than mile markers. When I walk down the hallway at school, I keep my eyes glued to the ground, number one, so that I don’t fall over, and number two, so that if I see any stray coins, I can snatch them up. It’s rewarding (sort of), but if I actually payed (is it payed or paid? I’m never sure…) attention to what was going on around me, I may get to see people and wave at them or talk to them or something else.

I’m not saying that people shouldn’t have goals, I’m just saying that people shouldn’t obsess about goals. They also shouldn’t be so obsessive about productivity. You can contribute to people’s lives even if you aren’t being productive.

For example, during the month of November (and occasionally during the months of June and August), I write a novel as part of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). I set specific goals (big and small) and then I make a detailed plan of everything I do to make sure that I finish the novel in the time I am allotted and to make sure that my story-line isn’t just one big plot hole. Fortunately, after November is over, I have written a novel that I’m usually quite proud of (at least for a while until I realize how horrible it is). Unfortunately, I’ve fallen behind on my school work or I have neglected some other aspect of my life (There aren’t really all that many aspects in my life, but whatever).

It’s nice to feel like I’m being productive and writing a novel is SUPER fun, but afterwards I’m glad I’m not in the middle of NaNoWriMo because it’s stressful and I am particularly prone to stress. People are always wondering why their lives are so stressful, but it’s really not all that hard to figure out. People think that getting organized will help with the stress (and it may very well do that), but a better way to decrease stress is to stop doing so much stuff. Stop setting such horrific goals, stop worrying so much about how far you’ve come and start enjoying where you’re going.

Unless, of course, you don’t like where you’re going, then that’s going to be stressful, so just make sure you’re going someplace nice… like a castle… or a forest. Forests are nice.