Tuesday, June 30, 2009

So long, June

WOW what a crazy, chaotic month this has been - both in fun ways and in painful, confusing ways.

It started out fun, with a lot of watching the Daily Show, and Star Trek, and making plans with Val and Sabrina for this crazy trip in August/September. I've tentatively planned on going to the Northeast Unschooling Conference, and spending some time at Val's house since she lives in Boston. Then she's coming back down here with me, and she and Sabrina and I are going to Atlanta for a Depeche Mode concert and then Dragoncon, a huge convention for sci-fi, fantasy, gaming, anime, math, science - basically anything nerdy. One of the most exciting things about that, for me, is that Leonard Nimoy will be there. Not sure if he's speaking or signing autographs or both, but I'm excited either way as he's someone I admire a lot. Plus, I love Atlanta, I haven't seen Val in almost a year, and I've never been to an unschooling conference. The whole trip is going to be fantastic, though I haven't gotten quite all the money I need for it yet.

Then I came down with a bad cold or the flu for like a whole week, and missed an RCU meetup I'd really been looking forward to. Boo-urns.

The worst part of that, though, was my mom caught my cold-or-flu, and with her emphysema it turned quickly into pneumonia. There was an ER visit and then she had to be admitted for a couple days. She got well really fast but the whole thing was extremely stressful. She's had emphysema for awhile but this is the first time she's had to go to the hospital for it. Luckily everyone was really sweet and supportive during this time and I was reminded just how many people I have who love me and my mom. I was really grateful for that.

Then I had to endure the thing that makes June so awkward for me every year - Father's Day. My father was always in and out of my life, sending mixed signals about whether he cared about me or not. Now he is either alive and doesn't care enough to call me, or dead (last I heard from him, he had cancer) and didn't care enough to pass my info along to someone who would contact me in the event of his passing. Either way, not good stuff. I should probably use Father's Day instead to focus on remembering my wonderful grandfather who was the real father figure in my life, but it's so hard when all around me I see people appreciating their warm, loving fathers. That's a connection I've always ached for.

To pile some more stress on, early last week we had a very small house fire when my mom fell asleep with a cigarette in her hand. Fortunately I was awake (it was like 5:30am) and smelled the smoke right away and my mom was able to put out the fire with her glass of tea. Good thing I have a crazy messed up sleep schedule *grin*. Still the whole thing was really distressing and I shudder to think what would have happened if I hadn't been awake.

And then just a couple of days after that, Michael Jackson died, which upset me way more than I ever would have expected. A celebrity dying seems like small beans in a month where my mom was hospitalized and the house could have burned down, but his music has always been important to me and has kept my spirits up during some hard times in my life. So I was very saddened by that loss.

Then, just last night I found out a good friend, who I've known for ten years and see as like a sister, is moving to Colorado. I knew this friend when her mom died. I was in her wedding. This is a strong connection. It seems my friends are all getting the hell away from Jacksonville as we all become adults. I can see their point, but it's still very difficult for me.

And today? Today is June 30th, which is both my father's birthday and the anniversary of my grandmother's death. I didn't even think about that until I started on this post. What a bummer of a day! Luckily, I have plans to distract me. Sabrina and I are going out shopping at 5 Points and the mall and I intend to use this day to have some fun and celebrate June being OVER.

June wasn't totally bad though. Amazingly, in between all the chaos I managed to do some pretty cool stuff. I've been listening to lots of new music, playing the guitar a lot, and practicing singing a lot. I also discovered I really enjoy sewing by hand and I've sewn one head kerchief and started on another. And the last few days I've been redecorating my room a little. The rest of the time I've been either watching cool stuff or writing. I've always written a lot, but this month - maybe partly because of all the stress - words have just been pouring out of me. (You can tell by how drawn-out this post is!) I've written lots of blog posts, an essay, part of a speech, and even some song lyrics. And I've come up with some ideas for comics I'd like to make, though I need to practice drawing first. Not everything was finished and not everything will be, but the fun and the emotional release of it is what counts.

Oh, one other cool thing that happened recently was that Wil Wheaton, an actor-turned-blogger I really like, replied to something I said on Twitter. Not a huge big deal in the grand scheme of things but it was really cool and fun to share a little joke with him. I wrote on another blog that "I’ve exchanged Simpsons quotes with a Star Trek actor over a website on which my username is derived from a D&D-related internet meme. I have truly arrived in the Land of Geek."

So June wasn't a completely bad month, necessarily, but it inspired way too much negative emotion for my liking. I'm gonna go have fun today and send June off in style, and hopefully next month will go a lot smoother. Bring on July!

Sunday, June 28, 2009


I was organizing my documents folder and came across this little snippet from a conversation. I don't remember who I said it to, but I thought it was profound enough to post somewhere.

Midnight is where the day begins says:
im watching this show about the black plague and they said that after the plague there were more resources to go around and "people who had formerly been peasants could now own land and have their own farms, and lead independent lives rather than working the fields of others"
Midnight is where the day begins says:
i wonder if most americans realize theyre peasants, by that definition

Saturday, June 27, 2009


Bread, I got you bread

I got you bread

I got you, frozen loaf of whole wheat

I got you, on top of some meat

Got pitas and rolllls
Got white, wheat, and ryyye

I've even got breeeaad I can't identifyyy!

Bread, I got you bread
I got you bread
I gooooot, you breeeeaaad

Friday, June 26, 2009

Michael, part 2

Is here. I wanted to write something more pertaining to unschooling and how much I learned from something as silly as pop music, but I feel like I've written enough on this subject for now. Maybe another time.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Michael, part 1

This is not really a post about Michael Jackson. This is a post about how I deal with shit. And since the main way I deal with shit is to write, please excuse me if this turns into diarrhea of the keyboard.

As a largely past-oriented person, I think a lot about generations, and decades, and what sorts of things mark them for different people. For my mom's generation, the Beatles and Elvis were ubiquitous. I can remember her telling me about when Elvis and John Lennon died, and even as a child I understood that these were obviously major events in her life. During my childhood, the lords-of-all-pop-culture were Madonna and Michael Jackson; I probably knew who they were before I was speaking in complete sentences. I remember thinking about this one time - maybe ten years ago - and it popped into my head that whenever one of them died I was going to feel very, very strange.

I was right.

Celebrity deaths are always a little weird for me. My friend Spiffy and I are both big Golden Girls fans, and we love Bea Arthur. (Dorothy was always my favorite, and I never really got why people made fun of her.) When Bea died, Spiffy and I had a conversation about which celebrity deaths we had cried over. I couldn't remember any. I remembered being really upset, years ago, when Left-Eye and Aaliyah died, because they were so young. And of course I was very sad when George Harrison died, having grown up listening to the Beatles constantly. Until now I think Bea Arthur was the celebrity whose death I'd found most upsetting - these things seems to affect me more as I get older and gain more understanding of what a human life means. But for some reason I just don't seem to cry when famous people die. I didn't cry today, either. What I did do was wander around in a stupor for several hours, not knowing what to think. This is the most upset I've been over a celebrity dying, and I had no idea how to react or who to talk to. It didn't help that it was someone who opinions are so split over: people literally either loved or hated Michael Jackson, to the point where many people seem glad he is dead. I can't understand being glad that a human being is dead, even one you don't like. I'm sad when anyone dies - hell, I was sad when Saddam Hussein died. A lost life is a lost life, even moreso when it's someone who made so many millions of people happy. Extremely so when a single parent of three young children dies.

Someone on a forum I read mentioned that MTV was playing a marathon of his videos. That was how I became a fan in the first place; MTV played a marathon of his videos when his first child was born, preempting some other show I usually watched. That was only twelve years ago. Twelve years sounds like a long time to my 23-year-old ears, but not when it represents the length of time between the birth of someone's first child and their own death. I don't have cable now, but I realized some of the radio stations were probably playing his songs. I was right, so I listened to that. Now I was in a more upbeat, danceable stupor, but a stupor nonetheless. The whole thing was made even more surreal by the radio station being a little mixed up about what it was playing: cutesy Jackson 5 songs were punctuated by a baritone voice informing me that I was listening to the "Sweat Hotel".

I always feel a strange twinge of guilt about being upset that a famous person has died - after all, their deaths shouldn't mean more than the deaths of ordinary people, and ordinary people are dying every minute. On the other hand, the few famous people I care anything about have affected my life more than many casual acquaintances I know in person. People drift in and out of our lives every day, some leaving more of an impact than others, and some who leave an impact do so from a distance. When those people die, it's only natural to be sad. And on the other, other hand, one of the things I decry most about "celebrity culture" is that people act as if celebrities are not human beings, but merely commodities. So in that way I find it completely appropriate to mourn when a famous person dies. Because they are all people, and they all have friends and families, and they all had goals and dreams they didn't get to finish. Death is sad, no matter who it is.

Still, my emotions are mixed up and jumbled, and I need to sort them out just as I would if I were mourning someone I personally knew. Thus, I write.

Thursday 13

Someone posted this on Livejournal:

List seven songs you are into right now, no matter what the genre, whether they have words, or even if they're not any good but they must be songs you're really enjoying now. Post these instructions in your LiveJournal along with your seven songs. Then tag seven other people to see what they're listening to.

I like too many songs right now to just list seven, and it's Thursday, so I'm posting thirteen, with Youtube links for your convenience. At no additional cost to you! What a deal!

1. Blues Traveler - Hook
2. Don McClean - Vincent (Starry, Starry Night)
3. Donovan - Sunshine Superman
4. Weird Al Yankovic - Albuquerque
5. Pogo - Alohomora
6. 'On the Rise' from Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog
7. 'Pure Imagination' from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
8. All the Pretty Little Horses
9. Nightmare - Aluminia (Death Note end theme)
10. 'Matchmaker' from Fiddler on the Roof
11. Yann Tiersen - La Valse d'Amelie
12. Loreena McKennitt - The Mummer's Dance
13. Lemon Demon - New Way Out

How's that for a random mix? I'm not tagging, but I freely release this meme into the air for anyone who wishes to grab it. Because of course if I don't say that, and you're not tagged, the meme police will steal you from your bed at night for doing this meme. And that would just be sad.

Thursday, June 18, 2009


I kinda hate to admit that I don't "get" Bob Dylan, but I don't. I get these guys, though.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Goldwatch Blues

I wanted to add this song to my playlist but they don't have it available so I'm posting the lyrics. It perfectly describes how I feel about jobs, at least the way jobs are treated in America. Here's the song on Youtube.

"Goldwatch Blues" by Donovan

I went up for my interview on the fourth day of July
First old man he questioned me until I nearly cried
Made me fill in forms until I shook with fear
About the colour of my toilet roll and if my cousin's queer

Here's your gold watch and the shackles for your chain
And your piece of paper to say you left here sane
And if you've a son who wants a good career
Just get him to sign on the dotted line and work for fifty

He asked me how many jobs I'd had before
He nearly had a heart attack when I answered four
Four jobs in twenty years, oh, this can never be
We only take on men who work until they die

Here's your gold watch and the shackles for your chain
And your piece of paper to say you left here sane
And if you've a son who wants a good career
Just get him to sign on the dotted line and work for fifty

He took me outside to where the gravestones stand in line
This is where we bury them in quick-stone and in lime
And if you come to work for us on this you must agree
That if you're going to die please do it during tea

Here's your gold watch and the shackles for your chain
And your piece of paper to say you left here sane
And if you've a son who wants a good career
Just get him to sign on the dotted line and work for fifty

This story that you heard you may think rather queer
But it is the truth you'll be surprised to hear
I did not want no job upon the board
I just wanted to take a broom and sweep the bloody floor

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

"We ran out of floorboards, so we painted the dirt. Pretty clever!"

When I was younger, I preferred a messy room because anyone could walk in and by looking at my stuff, they could get a picture of who I am and what kind of stuff I do. I usually prefer a cleaner room now, but "cleaner" is by definition a relative term. Today my room seems to be saying a lot about me, so I took a few snapshots. Picspam follows; pictures are embiggenable* by clicking.

*not a word, but neither is "embiggen" in the first place

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Unschooling Meme

This came from Frank Maier. The unschooling version was written by someone named Linda Wyatt, who deserves proper credit even though I don't know who she is.

1. Original question: What time do you get up? Unschooling version: What sleep schedules do people in your house have? Do you all have fairly similar schedules, or not? Are you the kind of people who wish things were open 24/7?

Neither my mom nor I keep the same schedule all the time. There are times when I sleep 9pm-4am and times when I sleep 9am-4pm, and everything in between. Basically, I sleep when I'm tired of being awake, and I wake up when I'm tired of being asleep. I do wish stuff was open 24/7, not only for my convenience but also because a lot of people would prefer to work at night if given the choice.

2. Original question: What do your children wear to school?Unschooling version: Do you know any good sources for great stuff to wear? Some examples: vests with lots of pockets, good boots, lightweight jackets with a sleeve pocket for pens, comfortable cotton tees with interesting designs. Anything you have that you love that other people might not know about?

I like t-shirts, the geekier the better. Busted Tees, 80s Tees and Teenormous have some great ones.

3. Original question: What curriculum have you tried and hated? What have you tried and loved?Unschooling version: Any good references to suggest? Websites, catalogs, whatever? Any that you have found that tend to be suggested by folks, that you really didn't find useful? Favorite books?

I'm going to focus here on websites and books, with the caveat that everything in the whole world, except drugs and Fox News, is a potential "resource" to me. I learn a lot from The Straight Dope and Cracked (the latter is sometimes adult-slanted, although I personally follow the theory that if you're old enough to get the joke, you're old enough to hear it). The quizzes on HelloQuizzy and Mental Floss are a lot of fun and sometimes informative. Dave Barry books are very funny and a great source of obscure trivia and 20th-century history. America the Book is great, though some of the jokes might pass by people who haven't been exposed to crappy history textbooks. Of (slightly) more serious stuff, I loved "The Language Instinct" by Steven Pinker (don't touch his non-language books, though, they're pseudoscientific garbage), and "A Short History of Nearly Everything" by Bill Bryson. Also, for anyone interested in comics or manga or art or even psychology, Scott McCloud's books are fantastic.

While I'm at it I'd like to put in an anti-recommendation for the National Geographic Knowledge Book. It looks so completely awesome until you crack it open and find unfinished charts, random deletions, and errors ranging from the trivial ("heavy metal bands, such as U2 and Prince") to the glaringly, I-can't-believe-that-got-past-the-editors bad ("many people still die of smallpox today").

4. Original question: Who is your most inspirational homeschooling role model?Unschooling version: How did you decide to unschool? Do you have any good sources of info to share? Anyone in particular who helped you make this choice?

I reached the point where my only options were quit school or self-destruct. I didn't want to self-destruct.

The longer version is, I had mono, for the second time, in 9th grade and missed a month of school. I was depressed and angry at a school system that cared more about my physical presence than my physical - and mental - wellbeing. My mom called the school and asked if I could just stay home the rest of that year. They said yes. Somewhere in that time I decided I wanted to register as a homeschooler, but when my mom called the school she was told that since I had already turned 16 (September birthday, plus I'd repeated 7th grade due to the first bout with mono) I was too old and had to just drop out. I suspect this may have been bullshit, but in either case I decided to just quit. In the fall I went back because I missed marching band, but as soon as the season was over I quit. Rinse and repeat the next year, except that time I didn't even finish the season. All totaled I spent less than a full school year in high school, and was only in it for band.

We didn't know what I was doing was unschooling. I thought I was a dropout, albeit one who intended to go to college somehow, and one who spent her free time reading up on genetics and religion and linguistics, and whose parents were okay with whatever she needed to do, even if that meant chatting with Australians all night and sleeping till dinnertime. I didn't learn the word unschooling until last year. I wish I'd known it sooner; I might not have wasted five years on wanting to become a teacher because I thought I could fix the system.

5. Original question: Abeka, Charlotte Mason, unschooling, or Classical?Unschooling version: What kinds of ways do your family members learn about stuff these days?

The internet. Talking to people. Trying new stuff. Turning stuff over and over in our minds. (I suspect I do that one a lot more than my mom, but she has disabilities stacked against her, plus she was raised to obey, not to think. I was raised to think.) Watching TV. Playing board games.

6. Original question: Favorite response to “What about socialization?”Unschooling version: How do you talk to people who ask clueless questions about unschooling? Any favorite stories? Suggestions for dealing with family members who are fearful or critical?

I'm past the age of compulsory schooling, so I don't get questioned much. If people ask why I don't have a job right now they can piss off, it's none of their business. People close enough to me to actually hear me use the word "unschooling" get a link to Sandra's website, because she explains it better than I do.

7. Original question: Favorite subject?Unschooling version: What are you guys up to these days? What are you doing that is so terrific that you think others should hear about it?

I like Frank's response to this: "Why should we be doing something so terrific that others MUST hear about it? It (slightly) implies that unschoolers are superior beings who are doing superior things in superior ways." On the other hand, I'm self-absorbed enough to think most of what I do is interesting enough that other people should hear about it, otherwise I wouldn't blog.

Lately I've been devoting a huge chunk of my time to watching Star Trek, which is hardly an extraordinary or even interesting (from an outside perspective) thing to do. But some of the directions that interest has taken are unique. There's Nimoy's other work, for a start: art and poetry and documentary voiceovers and one-man plays. There's all the stuff I've learned from curiosity sparked by the show, stuff ranging from Orthodox Judaism to theoretical physics. But even how I watch the show is maybe unexpected. I don't just take in the story, I analyze the ethics and the motives behind each decision. Violence, for example - on the surface it seems like a violent show, but underneath there are principles at work. Kirk doesn't use a gun when a fist would do, he doesn't use a fist when a threat would do, he doesn't threaten when negotiation would do. Free choice is a big thing, too. One episode contained this quote: "Without freedom of choice there is no creativity. Without creativity there is no life." This is a huge, huge unspoken (sometimes spoken, in different words) principle at work behind unschooling.

So I've been analyzing the show's principles, and holding my own principles up to the light and comparing the two. Sometimes the show (being a fictional story and all) is wrong. Most of the time I agree with it. Occasionally, in the process of comparing principles, I find out I was wrong. Analyzing principles is an intense, complex process and one that many people don't get to until later in life, if ever. I'm glad Star Trek is giving me a springboard for that.

Of course, from the outside, it just looks like I'm watching a whole hell of a lot of TV.

8. Original question: Favorite field trip ever?Unschooling version: Been anywhere cool? Where? Have any stories to share about adventures you've had? I'd be especially interested in hearing about adventures to places that few people know about. Pictures, too.

The places I go aren't that interesting. I've been to Miami and Atlanta, which isn't very unusual for someone who lives in Florida; I've been to the Grand Canyon but so many people do that. What's more interesting is the people I meet. In Miami I got to hang out with Fez, who lives in Singapore. In Arizona I stayed with Roni and Lyle for a week, and for another week with Bobbie and Lin (Mama's cousins). Spiffy came from New Jersey to go to JU with me (this lasted a semester for her and only about a month for me, but it was fun). Tim visited here all the way from Australia. Lots of people come here to see me, but when I travel I plan it around people and events more than places.

9. Original question: Best thing about homeschooling?Unschooling version: we can pretty much leave this one as-is. What have you found to be the most rewarding about how your family lives?

Sanity, for one. Trying to force myself into a conventional life drained all the joy out of me and made life not even seem worth it. That was depression, but it was logical depression. What's the point of a life you have no choice in? So unschooling gave me sanity back, and from sanity I was able to springboard to joy and fun.

I get along with my mom. We have a symbiotic relationship and both help each other. It seems strange to have to point out that a parent-child relationship is symbiotic, but I've learned from the painful stories of others that parents are often unwilling to help children and the children are (unsurprisingly and understandably) not particularly willing to help them in return.

I've sought out friends who I truly have things in common with and who accept me as I am, instead of forcing myself to get along with the people I went to school with. (Many of whom are lovely people, I should add, but most shared no common interests with me beyond being band geeks.)

I get to really pursue my interests with as much or as little intensity as I want. When I get absorbed in something I can spend months just soaking it up and enjoying it. When I get bored I can drop it like a hot potato without consequences and embrace the next new thing that sparks my interest. All of this adds up to a life where I am always interested in something and everything I do has value and meaning. Some people go crazy from the unmet need for a life like that.

10. Original question: Sports, music, or art?Unschooling version: I still don't know where to go with this question. Care to share any interesting things you've done or are doing in any of these fields? Anything you've had time to delve into that you might not have if you were busy doing schoolwork?

When I was busy doing schoolwork I didn't have ANY time for any kind of art or music or sports, other than what was included in the schoolwork. Now I dabble a lot. I have a clarinet, a piano, a keyboard and two guitars. I have lots of art supplies which I use mostly for abstract/geometric art, especially mandalas. I make some of my own jewelry. I'm not into competitive sports, although I did play badminton for the first time at Gail's the other week. I've participated in a drop-in yoga class, a community college canoeing class, and a bellydance class. I play DDR. I take lots of photos. I make collages.

11. Original question: Beautiful script handwriting, or lightning fast accurate typing?Unschooling version: Don't know where to go with this question, either, since I don't really understand why it was even asked. Make something up.

I can type fast even though I do it "wrong". I use only my right index finger and left middle finger, but I can type around 75wpm, faster without caps. I have years and years of instant messaging to thank for that. I can't do homerow and I have no use for it since it would only slow me down.

I've found my handwriting has improved some, without school forcing me to rush. I can write more slowly.

12. Original question: Best one stop shopping for school books?Unschooling version: Best place to get books? Or other things, too, like some of those fabulous websites that have all sorts of really cool toys and equipment. Where do you find cool stuff?

Best place to get books is the library, Amazon (I always get them used), or locally, Chamblin Bookmine. Chamblin is like a wonderland for people who like books. You can *literally* get lost in there; I'm always slightly tempted to leave a breadcrumb trail when I go in. I'd move in if they had chairs and a bathroom.

Best websites for toys are ThinkGeek and Fat Brain Toys. (Don't be put off by the "educational" label on that second one - they have real, actually fun toys.)

The most interesting shopping areas around here are Five Points (the few unique stores left that haven't been gentrified out of business) and the historic district in St. Augustine. Lots of little hippie-ish stores with unusual items and interesting employees.

13. Original question: One subject you didn’t get to this week:Unschooling version: What do you wish you had time for this week that you didn't fit in?

I have too many interests to do them all in a single week and ever get any sleep. I didn't play any musical instruments last week or do any yoga or visit any friends or study any foreign languages or read a novel or write a novel or beat any video games or go swimming or read manga or draw a mandala or make a candle or bake a pie. I did clean my room, blog twice, watch about six episodes of Star Trek, contemplate religion, play with my kitten, read some nonfiction, play the Sims, hook up the TV converter box, watch ants and aphids interact, give my mom a haircut, go grocery shopping, dance, plan a budget, and make vacation plans.

14. Original question: What will you do when you run out of kids to teach?Unschooling version: What ways have you found to continue your own learning? What kinds of things have you gotten interested in since having kids? Do you have any particular plans once fewer people live in your house, whenever that may be?

1) School never all the way dimmed my interest in learning, thank God. Even when I was in school, my home life was unschoolish enough that the question "how do you continue your learning" sounds a little alien and strange to me. The biggest way I learn is through the internet, which is the greatest thing to happen to unschoolers since vans and washable window paint. I also learn by just having a wide variety of friends who have interesting things to say.

2) I don't have kids yet, so n/a.

3) Currently two people live in my house, and I hope it's never less than that. I spend a lot of time in my room, but I'd hate to actually live alone.

15. Original question: Ever give school books as holiday or Birthday gifts?Unschooling version: What's the best book gift you have ever given? Gotten?

Gail gave me the Teenage Liberation Handbook just because she thought I should have it. That was sweet. An ex bought me America the Book, which is one of my favorite books, years ago. Other than that I've rarely gotten books as gifts, mostly because my mom is my primary gift-giver and she only shops at Walmart, where you can only get books if you're into things like cheap pulp fiction and Dr. Phil, which I am emphatically not.

Edited the next day: Since I said "other than that, nothing" I feel I should also include that Sandra sent me some cool, weird German books last year, just because she knew I was learning German and she wanted the books to live with someone who would find them useful. I didn't remember them when I was writing this because the word "gift" didn't trigger it. It felt more like long-distance strewing, which I thought was really cool.

16. Original question: Better late or early (delay formal education at home, or start as young as possible?)Unschooling version: Are there some things you find you prefer a class structure for? What alternatives have you found for learning things most people think can only happen in a class? Do different members of your family have different learning styles, and if so, can you tell me a little about that and how it has affected how you do things?

1) Things where I need to be physically shown what to do. Dance, yoga, sign language. My proprioceptive senses suck so I need the benefit of someone else seeing what I'm doing and correcting me when I haven't noticed something important, like that my knees are locked or my head is on backwards or whatever. Note this doesn't apply to musical instruments; I play those better when I do it my own way without a teacher breathing down my neck, telling me to pretend there's an imaginary aquarium light ready to burn my fingers if I lift them too far off the clarinet, or some other ridiculous thing.

2) Most people nowadays seem to think all learning can only happen in a class. It's ridiculous. I learn everything from everywhere. I don't even know how to answer this question.

3) My "learning style" involves getting totally fascinated with one particular thing at a time and learning everything that has anything to do with it, which often leads, paradoxically, to learning things that have nothing to do with it. Sometimes these obsessions last only a few days. Occasionally they've lasted a full year. Sometimes after the obsessive phase ends I'll want nothing at all to do with whatever the thing was, but that's rare. Usually it just fades into a normal, background interest and something else takes the foreground. This means that, even though on the surface I may appear to only care about the current obsessive thing, I actually have countless things I'm interested in all the time.

Friday, June 5, 2009

My Friday

I'm aaalmost hesitant to post this, because it's such an atypical day for me. I rarely watch more than an hour or two of TV a day - not that I think watching TV is bad, provided you're actually watching things you care about and not just wasting time on any random thing that comes on. But today, in which I watched 5+ hours (!) of TV/DVDs is just not representative of the variety of different stuff I usually do. So just keep that in mind. It was a fun day though!


I woke up at... err, 1:15. While I waited for my lunch to heat up I got on the computer and read a few blogs and things... then while I ate (chicken sandwich and tater tots) I put on the first episode of Star Trek TNG, because I'm sending it back to Netflix soon. The first ep is long like a movie and I want to clean today. I like a movie on in the background (one I've seen before) when I clean.

I stopped in the living room to play with my kitten, Dot, a little. I noticed my lower back is hurting a little, and I'm hoping I don't have a kidney infection. I still really want to clean.

I start cleaning but I keep getting frustrated... I have TOO MUCH STUFF and nowhere to put it all! It doesn't help that my bed is in a corner, so I can't use all the drawers underneath it. And I keep running into old junk my ex left here, even though we broke up three years ago.

Watching Eddie Izzard... still cleaning, and chatting with Roni and Justina. My mom brought me some strawberry shortcake about 4:30. I cleaned out the cabinet in my computer desk and put my art suppies in there, and put some books in the shelf that I might reference a lot while at the computer. I think that's about all the cleaning I'm doing for today.

By then it was almost time for dinner so I listened to music, played the Sims, and chatted a little with Fez, who is about to fly off to England. I also tried to read a little of Lord of the Rings but I kept getting distracted (by the animals, and by this stupid song getting stuck in my head. I like almost everything Leonard Nimoy has done, but singing is a major exception).

After dinner Mama wanted me to give her a haircut so I did. I'm not thrilled with how it came out, but she likes it. I just have no experience cutting straight hair. Mine is so frizzy you can't even tell if it's cut straight or not, so I can take some liberties with it :p

At 8:30 I came back to the computer to update this and talk to Fez, Val and Spiffy (not all together).

Around 9 I decided to take a bath. My mom had a radio on in one room and an 80s CD playing in another, so from the bathroom I could hear - simultaneously - an evangelical, end-of-the-world Christian preacher, and Twisted Sister. That's my house, folks.

Came back to the computer to talk to Spiffy. I realized that today has been a productive day, but it hasn't been a sparkly super-fun day. I decided to do a music survey on Myspace since those usually put me in a good mood... but then I wasn't getting good answers and decided to scrap it. Actually I was feeling bleh in general by this point, so I listened to music in the dark for awhile. (That sounds depressing written down, but it's one of my favorite ways to relax.)

Watched part of a Genesis concert DVD, and then an ep of Star Trek. I usually never spend this much time watching stuff, but then I also don't normally clean my room and give someone a haircut (which took an unreasonably long time), so I guess it balances out.

I spent the rest of the evening (using the term loosely, since it was well past midnight by this point) listening to music, watching the Daily Show and posting this.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

25 Things About Me

A lot has happened in the past month, which is why I haven't gotten around to blogging. Just to keep the blog alive here is a meme - 25 random things about me, in no particular order. I don't tag, but feel free to do this if you want.

1. I've always wished people would throw me a surprise party. When I turned 19, people planned one for me at my volunteer job, but it was a drop-in sort of job and I didn't come in that day. I still feel bad about that.

2. My favorite voice actors are Rob Paulsen, Charlie Adler, Eric Stuart and Hank Azaria.

3. I actually enjoy vacuuming, and the smell of carpet after it was just vacuumed. Unfortunately my house has no carpet and we don't own so much as a Dustbuster.

4. I don't want a "career". The idea of doing the same job for 40 years makes me almost physically ill. I'm pretty sure this is in my blood; my dad was a trucker, a security guard, a deliveryman, a roofer, a plumber, and lord only knows what else throughout his life. (He has not been part of my life consistently, so I'm sure I'm missing some stuff.)

5. I was raised Baptist and currently identify as Unitarian-Universalist, but my beliefs are something like a mix of Quaker, Jewish, Taoist, Buddhist and pagan, with a healthy dose of agnosticism (also known as "humility") thrown in. This makes it sound like my beliefs probably contradict themselves, but they're actually fairly cohesive.

6. I was a Girl Scout from the first time I heard about it until our town stopped having a troop. I took it more seriously than our troop leader did, and would read the manual on my own time. I learned more from that than I did from the meetings, which were mostly focused on things like weaving paper placemats and painting our nails.

7. I hate the smell of ketchup. I will eat the stuff, but if there's any left on the plate it's got to be cleared away from me right away or it will drive me crazy.

8. A major pet peeve of mine: When people say "We didn't learn that in school" as a reason why they don't know something. A simple "I never heard that before" would suffice, but if you put the entire burden of your knowledge on school then you expose yourself as someone who systematically avoids knowing anything that isn't spoon-fed to you. This is a trait I do not admire, to say the least.

9. When I was a little girl my grandpa, who had served (but not fought) in WWII, said something about not liking Japanese people. I pointed out that he couldn't say that unless he had met every single Japanese person ever, and he agreed I was right. This spurred me to be a little bit fascinated with Japan for awhile, thus making me an "otaku" without having been exposed to anime (unless you count things like the Noozles, but I had no idea those shows were Japanese anyway). This is also how I got into Babysitters Club books, because they had a Japanese-American character.

10. When I order Chinese food I invariably get General Tso's chicken.

11. I wonder a lot about what "good taste in music" is supposed to be. I like classical music, and the Beatles, and David Bowie, and Stevie Wonder... I also like a lot of stuff that would horrify music snobs, like Lemon Demon and Scissor Sisters and Weird Al and DDR music. I think it's just subjective and people make categories of "good taste" and "bad taste" as one more thing to bully people with. (I also think it's interesting that Michael Jackson is placed in both categories by a roughly equal number of people on each side.)

12. I am not fazed at all by spiders, roaches or mice, but if a moth gets near me I start screaming and flailing erratically.

13. When I am at home and no one is visiting, I always have a t-shirt and pajama pants on. I don't understand the point of being fully dressed at home, unless you have people drop in a lot.

14. I am not a materialistic person - I'd choose living in a cardboard box over working in a cubicle - but my "love language" is gifts. I take a lot of pride in giving gifts that show I truly know the recipient, and I treasure anything other people give to me, even if it's as small as a postcard or a drawing or a friendship bracelet. This makes me a bit of a packrat, but I consider organization less important than being surrounded by things that remind me I'm loved.

15. When I was about six or seven, something on TV (I don't recall what) made me really sad and angry about the way most adults treat kids, and I promised myself I would never forget what it's like to be a kid. So far I've always kept that promise, and I think that's an enormous part of what makes me who I am.

16. I learn by obsession, which is probably irritating for people I talk to a lot, but works extraordinarily well for me because I learn a ton in a short amount of time. A random sample of some things I've been obsessed with: The Wizard of Oz, skeletons, psychology, Tiny Toons, the band Queen, genetic disorders, feng shui, 19th century presidents, and currently Star Trek. I could probably write you a book on all the learning these various things have led to, but suffice it to say some of the apparently fluffy ones have led to profound, intellectual things. (The reverse is sometimes true too - a large portion of the president obsession, for example, involved speculating on which ones might have been gay. Even still I managed to learn more US history than any high school class would teach.)

17. I don't really get all the fuss over Stephen Colbert. He was always one of my least favorite people on the Daily Show (which I like a lot) and I just can't get into the Colbert Report.

18. Driving a long way relaxes me like almost nothing else can. It's very zen.

19. I could probably live off grains, vegetables, and cheese, but I would need a LOT of cheese. I can't afford that much cheese.

20. I love having a wide variety of friends, and I'm a little suspicious of people who live in a diverse area and yet their entire network of friends consists of people of a single race or religion. I think people who are open to diversity will attract diverse friends.

21. I have a coin collection that I love, but I've never made coin collecting much of a hobby besides saving state quarters and really old pennies. Most of my collection is inherited.

22. I qualify for the Daughters of the Confederacy - my great-great-grandfather fought in the Civil War on the Confederate side. The idea of joining such an organization, however, makes me want to spit.

23. I love songs that are really fast and difficult to sing - like "One Week", "Yakko's World", and "La Vie Boheme" - and will listen to them over and over until I can sing the whole song without a mistake.

24. You know how when you hear other languages you can often identify which ones they are by the sound and patterns of them? I've always wondered what English sounds like to people who don't speak it. The fact that I will never know is slightly maddening.

25. These lists are hard, because I sort of suspect that the most interesting things about me are things that are so mundane to me that I am totally blind to them, like an umeboshi on my back. Most people are probably this way.