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This is the second installment of a series of blog posts that I plan to do between now and the end of May where I talk about things I remember from public school/high school. In this post, I am going to talk about my experience on the Science Olympiad team during the last six months. You can read the first post here.

It honestly doesn’t seem that much time between when I signed up for Science Olympiad in
October to now, the eve before our state competition. I want to write a little bit about it before I go to state because I need to organize my thoughts before I turn off the lights and lay awake in the dark where my mind finds the most horrible outcomes of a situation and turns them against me.

Before:

Even though we’ve only had two regional competitions, I feel like I’ve accomplished a lot. I did procrastinate my studying quite a bit, but I picked it up before it was too late and I did better than I thought I was going to (as an individual, anyway, I wanted to rock everyone else’s socks off, but it didn’t happen that way). The thing about Science Olympiad was that it was less about the effort of a team and even less about the effort of a pair of people and more about what I could do on my own.

I learn things on my own well enough, I watch documentaries and read Wikipedia articles for
kicks, I just rarely learn anything overly useful without prompting. I honestly didn’t think I would do any studying for Science Olympiad. I’m just not a person who studies, but as my previous post will tell you, I’ve never done anything that really required me to apply myself (besides math, where I didn’t apply myself at all). The thing is, I’ve always loved science, even though it was a little upstaged by my passion for English. English was my main thing where I sat down and wrote words down on a page or typed them into a computer. Science has always been what I do when I’m sick of sitting down. English is something you learn, something you apply, but Science has always been something you do.

That may not make any grammatical sense, but for once, I don’t care. There’s always been a curiosity inside me that I can never quite satisfy. Perhaps I grew tired of my family always
questioning why things happened and never finding an answer. It may be one of the reasons why I hate rhetorical questions as well. With science, there are no unanswerable questions. You can experiment over and over to find the answer. It may not be a perfect answer and it may not even be the right answer, but at least we’re looking for it instead of throwing questions onto a page to think about but never engage.

The more I think about it, the more excited it makes me feel. I’ve never been an adrenaline
junky and I always try to cling to safety. English, to me, is a safety blanket. I understand what is going on with words and language and communication. I don’t need to think a whole lot about why the words do what they do, I just need to let them lead my thoughts into a place where theories are made and hypothetical situations reign.

Science is my risk. It’s hard and I always risk failing. There are things that I need to understand and there are lines and walls that will always remain impervious to prodding (unlike the english language, filled, as it is, with exceptions and accommodations  and can never be justified away.

Science makes me feel like I can take chances and do things that are hard, even though I’m a lazy person who is likely to give up. Science makes me feel like I’m accomplishing something that no number of finished novels, sitting on my harddrive, can make me feel.
As I talked about in my last post, achieving even a small amount of success in science gives
me the confidence and the audacity to try hard things. Hard things that I never even imagined myself doing. Science is my secret love affair.

Tomorrow morning, I will be on my way to my final competition, after months of independent
work. Work that I am proud of for having made myself focus on something that I would need to apply in the future. I’m horribly nervous, but I feel like I can keep my cool for this. I’ve always been a good test-taker.

After:

My love of Science persists and grows larger. In a second, I’m going to dive right in, but I’ll just say that State Science Olympiad was the exact opposite of what the Regional comps told me to expect.

We had to wake up early and drive for forever to get to The University of Utah, but the drive was not annoying at all. First of all, no one wanted shotgun because that meant you’d have to sit in the front seat with our coach and no one wants to do that, so I had no opposition in claiming shotgun. I hate riding in the back seat because I like to see where we’re going and the front seat is always much more comfortable. Everyone else in the vehicle fell asleep, but my coach and I had a series of conversations about television and heart attacks, which was fun. Teachers are the best conversationalists, I find, so it’s interesting that students don’t ever want to talk to them.

We arrived and were stationed in the Jon M. Huntsman Arena, which is just this massive circle. When I first walked in, I felt like I was standing at the edge of a cliff. We found the area we were supposed to sit in and then everyone who had an event time in the first round left for their events. I didn’t have an event at first, so I just sat in a seat and started next week’s AP Chemistry homework. When I left for my first event, I was completely lost. Unlike Westminster College and Weber State University, the sites for our Regional comps, The University of Utah is MASSIVE and not at all navigable

As a side note, the way people in Utah tell directions is by the mountains, which run north to south along pretty much the whole length of Utah. Whenever we leave Utah, we lose all sense of direction because we don’t have the mountains there. Unfortunately U of U is right on the side of the mountain, so it was like the mountain was surrounding us and I couldn’t get myself oriented. Fortunately, there were maps everywhere, so I reached the building I was supposed to be in within fifteen minutes of leaving “home base.”

I met my partner, Kayla, in the hallway outside the room we were supposed to be at and we sat for a little while talking about her first event. One of our test coordinators let us into the room so that we could get situated (and he also gave us pastries). The event was Anatomy and Physiology and our Region experience was not comforting at all. We had about 60 stations and we had, like, one minute to answer the questions. The State competition only had 10 stations and we had 6 minutes for each.

Our first question wasn’t very encouraging, so we just guessed, and the second station wasn’t much better, but I knew a few elements of the question from watching that movie Hawking (the one about Stephen Hawking)(I tried to explain how I knew the information, but Kayla didn’t know who Stephen Hawking is… seriously, we’re at a SCIENCE Olympiad and she doesn’t know who Stephen Hawking is…). The next station made us as giddy as kindergartners. We got to look at the cross section of a REAL, HUMAN KIDNEY. The event coordinator even told us that we were allowed to touch if we wanted to… which we did… more than was probably necessary.

Next was a question that we surmised the answer to, even though we didn’t know anything about the filtration rate of blood. There was a sphygmomanometer and stethoscope sitting next to the station, so Kayla took my blood pressure while we were waiting to go to the next station. The event coordinators laughed so hard when they saw us.

The next station was about a disease and the treatments. Kayla’s CNA class helped with this one and we provided a pretty good answer, but I couldn’t help answering the question of treatment for the patient with “A hot shower and a good long nap” after Kayla was finished.

The next station was A REAL, HUMAN GI TRACT. We were allowed to see and touch the rugae in the stomach and stroke the small intestine, which was so amazing. We did the same with THE REAL, HUMAN HEAD…. well, it was half a head, but still. Some guy had donated his body to science and science had cut him up for our amusem…. uhh… education… We may or may not have poked his brain, tongue, and nasal cavity…. He also had a crazy eyebrow. They seriously just took a dead guy’s head, cut it in half, and stuck it in a container so that we could identify parts of the brain. It was the coolest thing ever and we were geeking out so hard, you have no idea.

My next event was Forensics, which didn’t really go well because we didn’t have time enough to get everything done and we didn’t really know which suspect to accuse, so we just accused two of them because of evidence found on both. My partner, Kendall, and I aren’t really sure we did all that well, but it was really fun, even if it was overwhelming. I feel like I would have had a blast if I were given enough time to methodically go over all the evidence and work in a lab that wasn’t filled with so many other people. My main thing was that I didn’t have to carry our forensics kit back up the hill. Kendall carried it for me and we chatted as we walked up the hill, even though my next event was way out of the way.

The only time I’ve ever talked to Kendall was when I needed to tell him about our event because he’s a sophomore and I’m a senior and we don’t run in the same circle of friends at all. Come to think of it, the only reason I know things about him at all are because his dad is my AP Chemistry teacher and our Science Olympiad coach  I doubt I’ll ever communicate with him again, even though we do have 3D Animation for fourth hour together, but he’s a pretty intelligent guy and he’s not so bad, even if he’s a squishy, squishy squashmore. Anyway, I digress.

My next event was Circuit Lab, an event that I’ve been preparing for for only three weeks. It’s funny because my partner, Jason, and I both decided to do the event because we both have dads who work as electricians. Unfortunately, our Region competition went horribly. We didn’t know how to build a circuit and we didn’t know enough to solve any of the theoretical problems. We did take 4th place out of 32 schools, but we didn’t know anything. So, for the three weeks I had, I studied like mad for this event. Unfortunately, Jason didn’t have time to study, so he wasn’t a whole lot more knowledgeable about the event this time.

I was totally ready, though. We finished everything we had to do in plenty of time and I knew how to answer all but two of the problems. I don’t think I got all of them right, but I feel like I have a chance of getting a majority of them right. Not to mention, I could build a circuit now and we were able to do more on our practical lab portion than draw pictures of bunnies and stick figures saying witty jokes about electricity.

Last of all, Jason and I walked across campus (yet again) to our Chemistry lab. We were so confident about it because our Region event went super smoothly. This time, however, none of the answers we got match the table we were supposed to be matching things to. We followed all the steps the way that the example problem told us and we titrated our basic solution correctly, but we just couldn’t make the numbers work. In the end, with five minutes left, we just guessed on every answer on our score sheet. There were probably ten multiple choice questions that I just circled random letters for and we identified the substances with the ones in the provided table without any evidence to support the answers. We’re probably going to place really low, but we feel like we still have a chance that we got all the answers correct by guessing.

We hitched a ride on a golf cart back up the hill to the Huntsman Arena and back to the rest of the team and then we went and got food.

It was so much fun and, even though I didn’t eat anything all day long until around 4:30 this afternoon (my hands are still shaking), I felt fantastic and I still love science, even though it has taken a lot out of me during the last six months. Now I have to focus on the AP Chem test that will take place in less than a month. I’m not freaking out yet, but I know I will. I just hope my teacher has a lot of materials for us to study, otherwise, I won’t know how to do anything. I’m also going to make him tell me how to figure out the titrations lab thing or else it’s going to bug me for forever.

I know that no one could possibly make it this far into a blog post, but I have over a hundred blog posts and almost no following at all and I keep blogging. I’m pretty sure that I do this for myself mostly. If you did happen to make it this far down without killing yourself because of my inability to write concisely, I applaud you, but I question your sanity if you can read through this and not quit.

Toodles.

P.S. If you want to know my event placings, you can go here.

Next episode in the series.

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The Elegance of the Hedgehog

ImageI haven’t done a book review in a long time. I remember swearing that I was going to do more of them, but then I didn’t. In any case, I want to do one now for no particular reason.

This book came into my possession by interesting means. I first heard of this book from a psychoanalyst (psychiatrist to you primitives). This particular guy was a very interesting guy and he made a distinct impression on me. Though he didn’t cure me of my anxiety, he did have a lot to say about literature. His favorite book to talk about was Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky, which I actually got to read a few months later in my AP Literature class. It is also now one of my favorite books. Ever. It really is fantastic, though my classmates will tell you otherwise.

This book, however, was another book he spoke about once. I’m pretty sure that, at the time, he couldn’t remember the title of the book, but he described the plot of the book to me, which I thought sounded pretty interesting, for the purposes of the conversation we were having at that point.

Around four months later, I stopped going to therapy and continued on with my happy little life. This was around the time when my friend Leslie and I started hanging out a lot after school. Up to this point in our friendship, we were simply far too lazy to “hang out”, but now we had devised a master plan for Halloween costumes and did a lot of running about in order to make it happen. One of the things we started doing frequently, was shopping at the local DI (Deseret Industries), where the used books were only fifty cents to a few dollars and usually had plenty of the books that we were looking for. Within the next year, my personal library increased in size by a factor of around four or five. In short, I obtained two new bookshelves for my bedroom and finally had enough books to organize them into some sort of order.

One day, Leslie and I were preparing for college. We cleaned the room that her grandparents are going to let us live in, we built our fantastically stylish bunk beds, and we mapped out where we were going to cram all our stuff (books). By way of reward, we treated ourselves with a trip to DI. As always, we made our way to the back corner that housed the books and began methodically sorting through the books to see if they had any that we wanted. I was going along a shelf when I reached a book entitled, “The Portable Therapist.” Because of the general attitude that my social circle has toward therapy, I picked it up to look at it, bemused. Putting it back, I saw the book pictured above.

Not knowing the title of this book in relation to the story line, I picked it up, mostly because I like hedgehogs. They’re adorable. Reading the description of the book’s plot, I quickly realized that this was the book that my therapist had been speaking of all that time ago. I looked back down at The Portable Therapist and laughed at the coincidence. Then I bought both books, of course, to commemorate the occasion.

Having just read it, I understand perfectly why my therapist would like this book. I’m something of an intellectual, yet half of the words in the book were words that I wasn’t familiar with. Not to mention the syntax was so complicated that I even had to re-read sentences. It was also incredible in that the main characters were constantly obsessing about grammar. Anyone who feels so strongly about grammar has a place in my heart.

Another thing about this book made an impression on me. That thing was the fact that, throughout the whole book, the main character (a little girl) was planning her own death. She gave very well-thought-out reasons for her suicide and was very convinced that her course was the right one. However, throughout every one of her arguments, I was constantly disagreeing. This isn’t a specifically individual reaction, but it was important to me. My state of mental health has never been…. ideal. I was in therapy, you can make your own inferences. It was just important to me because it assured me of my own will to live. I’m not suicidal. I never thought I was, but something about knowing for sure is strangely comforting.

Anyway, this book is a spectacular read, if you can keep up with the advanced writing. It’s a very nice “meaning of life” book, if you’re into that sort of thing.

Peacemaking

I don’t know a lot about normal family life, but in our family, we all seem to have roles. My older brother is expected to be the teacher. Whenever any of us does something obnoxious, he is inexplicably blamed for not teaching us better.

My little brother is expected to agree with everything my father does or says. Our family is a family of nerds. We play video games, we read books. We go camping occasionally and sometimes we run around aimlessly outside, but we aren’t particularly into sports and we definitely don’t lift weights for fun. Andrew is the exception of this. He doesn’t read a lot, he likes video games, but he does organized sports and he actually has normal friends that he hangs out with frequently. My father is much the same, though he does read a little and watch documentaries for fun. A lot of what my little brother says comes straight from my dad’s mouth.

My little sister has the role of the typical youngest child and suck-up. She does her chores just enough to be recognized for doing her chores more regularly than the rest of us. She also cries a lot. Everything is unfair to her.

My younger brother and sister do not get along at all. This is a definite understanding. The members of our family are genetically predisposed to being insufferable teases. My older brother and I didn’t get along particularly when we were younger either. However, we grew out of after a while. Neither of us had many friends, so we learned to get along. My younger brother and sister do not have this problem. They are both quite popular. It took me almost 10 years of public schooling to gain as many friends as they have after half that time. Because they don’t have to rely on each other for company, they haven’t learned to tolerate each other.

This brings me to my role. My role, for some reason, has always been “the peacemaker.”  Maybe they just run out of roles for middle children to play or something. Unfortunately for me, I am just as much a troublemaker as any of my siblings. I’m not an authority figure. I do not make peace.

Well, I should say that I don’t make peace the way my parents would like me to. When people think about peacemaking, they think about mediation and lowered voices. That’s what I like calling peaceful peacemaking.

Unfortunately, I don’t have the patience for peaceful peacemaking. When my little brother and sister are shouting at each other, I don’t think that standing to one side, softly asking them to stop is going to make any sort of impression. Perhaps it shows a lack of finesse to start shouting as well, but I can shout louder than either of them. I’m also bigger. It’s hard for them to shout at each other when I’m standing between them, also shouting. I don’t have to shout for long. I’m also intimidating enough to send them to different areas of the house.

They’re no longer fighting. They may be angry at each other and me, but they aren’t fighting. It seems like a solution to the problem. A temporary peace at least. Now I just have to figure out how to get them to respond to peaceful peacemaking. Peaceful peacemaking is a lot more effective than my methods, positive reinforcement versus negative and all that jazz.

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.

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.

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.

I was going to name this post some clever parody of something, but I’m not good at parodies.

Ooh, that opening leads me nicely into my subject. There were several titles that I almost used for this post. I even typed them into the box… and then I erased them and went with the above title. In fact, I type oodles and oodles of tweets, statuses, comments, and posts every day, a lot of them to never be seen by the internet. The reason? Because they sound stupid, they may offend someone, or they aren’t quite relevant. They didn’t get past my brain filter.

We talked about this in Seminary once. It was my first trimester as a high school sophomore, I wasn’t as glaringly brilliant as I am now (joke), but I was apparently aware enough to remember. It was the beginning of the trimester and we were talking about what would, the next year in my second trimester as a junior in high school, become Momentum, Critical Mass, and Mindfulness (I may or may not have had to check my Seminary notes to remember the last one… which was actually the first one in the list… I digress)(but really, isn’t the point of parenthetical commentary to allow the writer to digress?)(whatever). Those three concepts are for another blog post, but in the beginning, we were focusing mainly on brain filters.

The point of this particular discussion was apparently to help us remain focused in the class, throughout the trimester. The idea was that we needed to keep up our participation in class, but not to become distracted by just saying whatever comes to our minds. We needed to develop a mind filter. Of all the millions of thoughts that flash through our minds within a pretty short amount of time, most of them shouldn’t be said out loud, for various reasons. Sometimes, some of those thoughts may seem funny or appropriate in the moment, but really aren’t, so we were supposed to be able to tell what thoughts were worth saying and which ones weren’t before we said them.

That trimester of seminary was the most successful one I’ve ever been in, so apparently this concept got through to us. It also made me a big fan of trying not to say everything that comes to my mind… which admittedly does NOT work sometimes, especially during school. Though, in my defense, some of my teachers find me to be very funny (OR they’re FANTASTICALLY good at their courtesy laughs…)(This only reinforces my opinion that teachers are actually nicer than they’re given credit for).

Where this concept really works for me, though is when I’m communicating via textual means. Facebook especially because I forget that, even though I know those people really well, we’re not particularly good friends. Not like on Twitter where I follow people and they follow me back and we generally tolerate one another and… I don’t really know, but it’s a different sort of friendship. On Facebook, I forget that I’m not really on frequent-speaking terms with people and that they may be a little annoyed when I comment something incredibly sarcastic on their statuses. My statuses are less “filtered”, for want of a better word, because if they want to unsubscribe from my feed (is that what it’s called on Facebook?) without unfriending me, they can, quite easily. I’m not saying it’s completely unfiltered (That’s for Twitter)(It’s like there are three different levels of “filtering”: the Facebook comment filter, the Facebook status filter, and the Twitter filter)(That’s probably why I don’t have many followers…), but I have a little more freedom.

Now, I’m not saying that the things some people post on Facebook statuses, comments, Twitter feeds, or anywhere on the internet are just word vomit (a beautiful concept introduced to me by another teacher that probably didn’t find me funny at all, but put up with all of the stupid things that I said), unfiltered, and straight from the brain, but I kind of am. Teenagers and people are usually criticized for the stupid things they post on the internet, but I can’t help but wonder if they’d be criticized less if they’d put a nice brain filter in place (PROOFREAD).

It’s harder to see on Facebook (for me) because most of my friends there are SUPER nice people. Same with Twitter, though I read plenty of articles that discuss the effects of things people say on Twitter (my Twitter friends are awesome). But, sometimes I see things on Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr, that either make me feel deeply embarrassed for whomever posted it, or feel angry that they could post something that would potentially hurt people. It’s a good skill to have and if people used it a little bit, maybe the old folks would stop hating on the internet! (There’s nothing wrong with being old… unless you make it a problem)(I’M LOOKING AT YOU, ANGRY OLD LADIES THAT YELL AT ME FOR DOING WHAT I’M TOLD).

An Open Letter To Kristen

Dear Kristen,

I do not know who you are. You do not know who I am. It has been two years since I started using my current phone, including its current number. Either people seem to mistakenly dial my number instead of yours with a certain amount of frequency or you had this number before me. Either way, you must also have a lot of friends, because, at some point, they all text message me and they all seem incredibly nice, though their grammar could use some work.

The point is, I don’t want to be cliche and say that I wish I know who you are, but I think it is interesting that, even after two years or more, people can still not know your new number. I mean, I don’t know anyone who ceases to communicate with someone until two years later. I don’t even do that and I tend to ignore people until I need to know something that I know they know.

I can’t help but be curious about things. I’m curious about everything. Not literally, but whatever. I read Wikipedia articles for pleasure. I watch documentaries when I’m bored. It’s not that I’m particularly curious about people because they’re them, I’m curious because they’re people and I like to know things about people.

Not in a creepy way. Not as in I would peek over my neighbors’  hedges, mostly because my neighbors all live at least a hundred meters away from the edges of our property and they also don’t have hedges. Also, all of my neighbors are old and retired… though I suppose it would be interesting to know their “stories”… THAT’S NOT THE POINT.

The point is that I will probably never know anything other than your name and the other things that I deduce. I don’t actually care. I’m too lazy to actually try to find out. Maybe the real point is that I am curious about things when it is easy for me to satisfy my curiosity.

Yesterday, I went through my entire iTunes library and erased several hundred songs that I never listen to anymore and then I replaced them mostly with music that I’d never heard before. I literally just looked up a bunch of bands that I’d heard about and then I downloaded their albums. Besides that, I tried to practice my Orchestra music, but in being at my friend, Leslie’s house for a few hours, our Orchestra folders got mixed up (not to mention, everything I have is covered with cat hair. I took my jacket off before going inside and stuck it in my backpack so it wouldn’t get hairy, but it did anyway. Ridiculous), so I practiced my music by memory, which worked rather well except for my skipping the parts that I couldn’t remember. I wrote a little in my screenplay, but mostly I watched Bones. Today, I finished all of my math homework for the week, colored some butterflies, and watched Pride and Prejudice with my mom. I swear, I’ve seen that movie so many times.

Weekends are so boring. We should just go to school every day. Every. Single. Day.