Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Inside Out!!!

I have officially seen Inside Out FIVE TIMES now, which I think is my all-time record for seeing a movie in a theater, even other movies that I've been obsessed with. I'm going as Sadness for Halloween, and as soon as I can find some movie posters I like, I'm gonna cover my apartment with them! This is awesome - the last time I felt like, "Yay I wanna decorate my whole place like this!" was for Harry Potter. I can totally see myself decorating my whole apartment with an Inside Out theme!!!

Anyway, my review will be up in the next week or so. I have a LOT of thoughts to get organized, and I practically have the movie memorized at this point. But in the meantime, yay I'm decorating my apartment with an inside out theme!!!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Arthur Time

If you were a sandwich, your friends would be:
A. Potato chips
B. Diet soda
C. The plate
D. Hungry

D means you don't have very nice friends if they would eat you as soon as you turned into a sandwich. And C sounds like you're not very nice to make your friends just be the plate. Or it could mean that they are your platform or something, but I just don't picture a plate holding up a sandwich like pillars holding up a bridge. A sandwich can exist without a plate. I think choice A implies that you're the leader of the pack or the center of your social circle, since a sandwich is the main meal and chips are on the side. Choice B seems the closest to you and your friends being equals, since food and drinks normally go together. You would almost always have something to drink with your meal. Not sure what the significance is of the drink being diet soda specifically.

Honestly, if I were a sandwich, I think my friends would be sandwiches also, but different kinds of sandwiches. 

Hmm...maybe I'll try to figure out what kind of sandwich each of my friends would be.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Edit

I talked to my friend about the Being Snobby Has Its Good Points post, and I think there's a way for me to come on really strong in this way without being super mean about it. So I'm gonna try to do that. Not with everyone, just with people who I think won't respect my boundaries.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Maybe Being Snobby Has Its Good Points

In one of my quiz books, there's a question that asks, "Do you keep a journal?" and the choices are:
A. Yes, and I write in it every day.
B. Yes, but sometimes I'm too busy to keep it up every day.
C. No, but I keep meaning to start one.
D. No, borrrrring!

I'm thinking about how all the answers are good ones. Like, reading the question, I'm picking up the vibe that A and D are equally desirable. There's something about A that feels like the right answer, since we normally think of keeping a journal as a positive activity, but D feels equally right, because there's something cool about thinking that writing in a journal is boring. And the fact that both of those answers are desirable makes the middle answers desirable as well. C sounds a bit undesirable at first, but if you look at the desirability of A and D, you realize that C isn't a criticism - it's just someone who's in the middle, thinking it would be nice to keep a journal, but not quite interested enough to actually do it.

Keeping a journal is an introvert activity. I'm not saying extroverts can't keep journals too, but the activity itself is a solitary one. And when I look this question and the way that it's equally desirable to write in a journal every day and to think journals are boring, I realize that I've never seen this pulled off with an extrovert activity. And I've read tons of quizzes. Every question I've seen that involves going to big parties, talking to lots of people, joining organized activities, and being adventurous all point a person toward making the extroverted or adventurous choice. Honestly, have you ever read a quiz where you really felt like it was just as desirable to not try out for the hockey team, to not like big parties where you don't know everyone, or to not go on an overnight ski trip with your friends because it's way out of your comfort zone? Probably not. Not like this question about the journal. 

Part of this is not about the way the question is worded. Like, I don't think the quiz author did anything particularly special with the journal question to protect people's feelings. Keeping a journal is just not an activity that everyone is expected to like. It's totally socially acceptable to find it boring.

But I'm thinking about the wording. I tend to word my quizzes more neutrally. For choice D, I probably would have said, "No, that doesn't interest me." But I wonder if the attitude of D in this question is actually a good thing. Maybe the attitude behind an answer like "Borrrrring!" is the key to making that answer totally cool. Try this:

Your friend invites you to go on a weekend trip with all of her extended family, whom you've never met. Do you go on the trip?

A. Yes! That sounds like a ton of fun!
B. Yes, and I'll be sure to bring some board games or activities to break the ice.
C. Maybe. I'll ask my friend a lot of questions before deciding.
D. No way! Borrrrring!

Okay, I know D might not be worded in a "nice" way, and I'm not advocating that you should talk to your friend this way if your answer is no. But I think that giving some attitude to the "no" answer and making it sound like the person is above going on the weekend trip makes D into something that is just as desirable as A. Again, it's not that I think a person should be "above" doing something, but with social desirability as it is, choosing D would normally be the least desirable because you're supposed  to want to be extroverted, social, adventurous, and get out of your comfort zone. If you simply don't want to do those things, people treat you like you need to learn to do those things no matter how many times you say that you're perfectly content not doing them. But by giving D some attitude, you just wouldn't think to pressure the person who chooses D into going because it would be good for them. 

I think this discovery goes beyond quizzes. I think that maybe I should start talking more like D in real life. I already talk that way on my blog, but maybe when I go out into the real world, I shouldn't be nice about things. I shouldn't be like, "Well, that's not my thing, but you guys go ahead and have fun!" Maybe I should be more like, "Ewww gross! Why would anybody do that?" I know that doesn't sound nice, but when I'm nice, I open up the door for people to push me. I think if I'm more against things I don't like in a "Who the hell would do that???" kind of way, rather than an "I personally have no interest in doing that," kind of way, people will back off and leave me alone. I wish it didn't have to be this way, but being nice about everything has only made things worse for me. People respect my choices less when I respect their choices, whereas people will back off and leave me alone when I'm not nice about the stuff they like to do. I know this from past experience. I have to criticize people for what they like to do in order to protect myself against them. I wish I didn't have to, but I'm starting to think that it is my only option for people to respect my boundaries.

(If you already respect my boundaries, I won't try this on you). 

Memory

I only want all of my episodic memory, procedural memory related to things I *want* to do, such as reading and driving, and semantic memory for very specific-to-my-life things, like my friends' names, perhaps the name of where I live. I could lose all other knowledge that I've accumulated and be perfectly content.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Not a Buttercup

This is a picture of a buttercup:


This is a picture of me:



Take a moment to note the differences. I have often been confused with a buttercup, when people have said things like, "Cheer up, buttercup!" or worse, "Suck it up, buttercup!" That second one is enough to make me vomit (which I will do on the next person who says that). I know it must be very, very difficult to tell me apart from a buttercup since we look so much alike, so I thought I'd use visual aids to help you all understand the difference between me and a buttercup. Please commit to memory that I am not a buttercup.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Nope.

I never wanted routine and structure in my life, it will never be okay that people forced it on me.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Inside Out

It's not often that a movie affects me this deeply. It's been a while anyway. I think the last movie that touched me this much was Mary and Max, and it was a few years ago when I first saw it. I just saw Inside Out tonight, and it was absolutely brilliant. I spent a lot of the movie crying and I was crying for a while afterwards too. But it really, really touched me. I was expecting this to be a fun movie that I'd enjoy, something fun to do by myself on a Friday night, but I was not expecting it to impact me so much. I'm definitely going to write up a movie review, but I want to wait a couple weeks before posting that. It will obviously have spoilers, and I want to give other people a chance to see the movie before I write a review since it just came out today. I'm being a bit vague right now because I don't want to spoil the movie, but when I do the review, I'll go into more detail about why it touched me so much.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Junior Year Forever

For this post, I'm using these school year classifications:
Freshman = 9th grade in high school or year 1 of college
Sophomore = 10th grade in high school or year 2 of college
Junior = 11th grade in high school or year 3 of college
Senior = 12th grade in high school or year 4 of college

High school is typically a 4-year school with grades 9-12. I just wanted to clarify because I don't think these terms are the same everywhere.

Throughout my life, my junior year has always been my best year of school. Whether "best" was defined as the most good or the least bad - junior year was always the best. It was my best year of high school, my least bad year of college, and at my pre-K-8 school, my best years were 5th and 6th grade, which proportionally correspond to junior year. (If you just count grades 1-8 and divide the time into quarters, grades 5 and 6 are the third quarter, which corresponds to junior year).  

Even though I loved high school and hated college, they still follow the same basic pattern in terms of how the years felt proportionally to each other: freshman year is new and scary, sophomore year is boring, junior year is fun, and senior year is uneasy and complicated with lots of emotions that I never knew I had until I reached it. My pre-K-8 school basically corresponds the same way: grades pre-K-3rd were like freshman year, where just being in school was still a scary thing, 4th grade was like sophomore year, unexciting and uneventful, but the scariness of school was noticeably gone, 5th and 6th grade were like junior year, lots of fun and the only two years that I can really say I enjoyed at that school, and 7th and 8th grade were like senior year, full of uneasy and complicated feelings.

Freshman year is defined by newness, which can be good or bad. I absolutely loved my freshman year of high school, and freshman year of college was the worst year of my entire life. Whether freshman year is good or bad depends on whether the place I am is good or bad for me, but it's always going to be a year of not having my friend group and my life established yet, which I don't like. I like to feel safe and secure and established, and I don't like changes and transitions. Proportionally, freshman year will always be at least a little more stressful than the middle years.

Sophomore year is defined by boringness because the newness of freshman year has worn off, yet I haven't been at the school long enough to have really established my life there and found my niche. In high school, sophomore year was my least favorite year. Since I loved my school, the new excitement of freshman year was a positive thing, so I felt a bit of a let-down once that newness became routine. Yet, sophomore year was still too early to have my friends group and my niche established. I talked to a lot of people, but didn't feel deep connections yet. I hadn't had enough acting experience to get the bigger parts I wanted in the plays. In college, sophomore year was significantly less bad than freshman year. While it was still one of the worst years of my life, it was nowhere near as bad as my first year, mainly because I was not a first year student anymore. I could choose my roommate and I picked a new major that I liked better, and I knew a lot of people even if we weren't close friends. Even though college was horrible, I would say that of the four years, sophomore year was defined more by the lack of good things happening than by bad things happening. 

Junior year is defined by fun. It's the year that I have my friends established and the year that I find my niche. In high school, junior year was when I got the best roles in the plays. It was also the year that I started to feel a stronger sense of belonging with my friends. I knew where I belonged, and I felt a deeper connection with my friends than I had in the earlier years. Junior year of college, while it was still one of the worst four years of my life, was the least bad of my four years. Sophomore year I struggled a lot with trying to get parts in plays and singing groups, and by junior year, I took fiction writing class and decided to pour more of my energy into my writing instead. I also started choreographing dances - dance club was the one performing activity that you didn't have to audition for, and by the end of sophomore year, I had decided to pour more energy into dance since it was the only performing activity that I could join. Junior year I also developed much closer relationships with my friends. Some of the "friends" I had that year didn't stay my friends, but we had some fun together at the time. Proportionally, junior year was the year when I had the most fun with friends.

Senior year is defined by all those complicated feelings about leaving. In high school, I enjoyed my senior year very much, but it was also very stressful applying to college and knowing that our time together was so limited. All of that stress affected what I did that year. At some of my play auditions, I felt like I didn't give my best because I just was so busy and overwhelmed with other things that I wasn't able to focus the way I would have in earlier years. I was in a musical at the very end of the year, and I just didn't get to enjoy it the way I would have normally because my heart was in a million different places rather than being focused on the play. Senior year of college was the second worst year of my life, after freshman year. I went into a very deep depression as my college experience came together and I realized just how horrible it had been. (Everything came together in same way senior year of high school, but that was more of a positive experience). One thing about senior year is that everyone wants to talk about the future and no one is really focused on now. I am very much a "now," kind of person, and I really hate it when everyone just wants to talk about going off to college and getting jobs rather than how the school play is going or what's going on this weekend.

The funny thing about junior year is that I always thought it was just a coincidence that it was always my favorite year. After all, the things that made it that way could have happened any year. 5th grade was great because I had a supernice teacher. 6th grade was great because I was in my first-ever play, which is still one of my favorite memories. Junior year of high school was defined by the plays I was in. Junior year of college was defined by fiction writing class, dance, and fun with friends. And all those things could have happened in any other year, right?

No. They couldn't. I'm realizing now that all of these things were very much defined by the time in which they happened. I had a very nice teacher in 5th grade, but if she had been my teacher when I was younger, I would not have had the guts to talk to her at break time and form a friendship with her. If she had been my teacher in 7th or 8th grade, I would have still had all those complicated feelings and would not have felt like everything was all bright and sunny just because she was my teacher. I would not have been as deeply focused and interested in the books we read together and the journal that we wrote back and forth to each other. I was in my first play in 6th grade, which was awesome. But again, if that play had happened when I was younger, I would have been too afraid to try out. If it had happened when I was in 7th or 8th grade, I would have still had those overwhelming feelings about leaving the school and would not have had my life 100 percent consumed by the play like I did in 6th grade. Junior year of high school I got great parts in the plays, but I would not have gotten those roles if we did the same plays freshman or sophomore year. I needed those two years of acting experience before I could get those roles. And senior year, I just had so much going on that I could not focus on theatre the way that I could junior year, both in terms of doing well at auditions and in terms of enjoying the plays that I was in. Junior year of college was defined by fiction writing class, but I know that I would not have been able to concentrate on my writing during freshman or senior year. Choreographing dances was an idea that my friend came up with at the end of sophomore year as a way that I could be more involved in dance. I would not have been able to handle this during my freshman year. And really, the reason that we came up with this idea was because I had spent two years unsuccessfully trying to get into other groups. It took that time to figure out how I could be very involved in performing at college. Senior year I actually didn't choreograph a dance during my final semester because it was too much to handle emotionally. And in terms of friends, it took 2-3 years to establish those relationships. When I look back on my school years, these patterns are not coincidences at all. 

Junior year is always the time when I feel the most established. There's no newness and adjustment of freshman year. There's no boredom of sophomore year because I have an established friend group, niche, and fun things to do. And there's no threat of my established life being ripped out from under me like senior year. What I've realized recently, now that I've been out school for a long time, is that I want to live my life in junior year. I know that some people like to move around and have lots of adventures and changes and new beginnings, but I'm not like that. I don't like new beginnings and changes and transitions. I want to always feel safe, secure, and like my life is established. I want to always live like it's junior year. 

I'm a Wild Party Crasher

Most people don't start crashing parties till high school or college. Middle school at the absolute earliest. Well, I beat all of you. I crashed my first party when I was only 7. Yes, I'm serious.

It all started when my second-grade classmate Vanessa (not her real name) was handing out invitations to her Halloween birthday party. This was during a time when it was normal to invite the entire class to your birthday party. (And by "entire class," I mean all the girls. Our school was very gender-divided in terms of who played with who). I had gone to Vanessa's party the year before, and it seemed like she was handing out invitations to all the girls in the class, but she didn't give one to me. When I was standing with my friend Katie, Vanessa handed Katie an invitation, but not me, which ruled out the possibility that she just hadn't run into me. I assumed I wasn't invited.

As the party got closer, Vanessa went around at recess telling everyone to wear their costumes to the party. She was so excited about her party that she went up to every girl in the class individually to tell them this. If a bunch of girls were standing in a group together, she would still go up to each one of them individually and say, "It's a costume party, so wear your costume!" rather than saying it to the whole group, even though everyone could hear her just fine. This is why it confused me when Vanessa told me to wear my costume to her party. She wasn't making an announcement to a group that I happened to be standing with. She came up to me individually, looked me in the eye, and said, "It's a costume party, so wear your costume!" exactly the way she did with everyone else. I was confused. I didn't understand whether this meant that I was invited or not.

I told my parents what happened, and they said I should let her know that I didn't get an invitation. I was too afraid to bring up the subject on my own to Vanessa, so I waited until the next time she made an announcement. As it got even closer to the party, Vanessa went around at recess telling everyone not to eat dinner because they were having tacos at the party. Once again, Vanessa went up to me individually and said, "Don't eat dinner - we're having tacos!" the same way she did with everyone else. This time I said, "I didn't get an invitation," but Vanessa was out of earshot by the time I said it, and had already moved on to the next group of people with her taco announcement. Vanessa's friend heard me and went over and told Vanessa that I didn't get an invitation, but I didn't hear what Vanessa said.

I told my parents again what happened and that I didn't know whether I was invited or not. I gave them all the information I had, and we tried to piece it together, but it didn't make sense. My parents asked me if there was anyone else who didn't get an invitation, and as far as I knew, it was just me. They thought that I was probably invited, but I did not want to go until I was sure. I was imagining how embarrassing it would be if I got there and found out that I wasn't invited.

Now, I might have just not gone to the party. But the party happened to be the Friday night before our fall fair at school.  My friend Katie and I were going to be hanging around after school while our parents were setting up for the fair, and Katie's parents asked if my dad could drive both Katie and me to Vanessa's party after school. Katie's parents had assumed that everyone was invited and that my dad would be taking me anyway. When my parents told me what the plan was, I said that I still didn't know whether I was invited to the party, and I didn't want to go if I wasn't invited. So my mom called Vanessa's mom to ask, and she confirmed that I was invited. I felt relieved. It must have just been a mistake that I didn't get an invitation.

I went to the party and had a good time. No one acted weird towards me. The following week at school, no one said anything to me about the party. But years later, when our class became more cliquey, Vanessa's friends started asking me, "Why did you go to Vanessa's party? You weren't invited!" referring to the second grade party.  I always just said, "Because I wanted to," or "Because I felt like it," but I knew that they were right - I must have never been invited to that party, regardless of what Vanessa's mom said on the phone. Vanessa never confronted me about it directly, but she must have let her friends know that I wasn't supposed to be invited, because this became a thing that her friends harassed me about all the time.

The thing is, when my mom called Vanessa's mom and told me that I was invited, I took that at face value. I was only seven at the time, and I didn't understand that Vanessa's mom might have said I was invited when I really wasn't. It's possible that I was never invited, but Vanessa's mom felt obligated to let me go since my mom called. It's also possible, and I think more likely, that Vanessa's parents expected her to invite the whole class, and Vanessa decided on her own not to give me my invitation. In any case, I never really wanted to crash her party. I felt bad once I realized that I was never invited, but I was too embarrassed to explain to Vanessa what really happened, so I never told anyone the real reason that I went to the party.

But I did crash a party. And in terms of what age people normally start crashing parties, I think I've got everyone beat!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Yes, I'm Serious, Part 2

If I went on TV and Dr. Phil told me that I was a smart, capable young woman and lots of other nice things about me, and then said that I didn't have the right to throw my life away with drugs or drinking or laziness or whatever the hell I was doing...I would think about killing myself right there on national TV. Okay, maybe I wouldn't actually do that, but it is MY life and I will not stand to be guilt tripped or have anyone tell me that my life is not mine to do what I want with or that I'm obligated to apply skills that I never asked for and never would have developed had I known I would be pushed to apply them to things. Yes, I'm serious.

Sometimes I really think that I need to either carry protection on me or learn to fight ten people at once. What I'm worried about is getting an intervention. (And I mean a real intervention where everyone gangs up on you and maybe even get professionals involved, not just one person ordering me around). People have shown me time and time again that they will not respect my boundaries when I say stop, when I say that I don't want to change and I am not staying friends with people who push me to change. People just don't accept the level of absolute validation and non-pressuring that I require from anyone I'm going to interact with, and I get very concerned that people might do an intervention on me. Let me just say that all those books you've read that say you should Tell An Adult about your friend and get them in trouble and thrown into therapy or something and your friend will thank you later on? Some friends might be that way, but I'm not. I won't thank you later on. Not only will I never speak to you again if you try an intervention on me, but I will hunt you down and make your life miserable. My only concern is that I won't be able to fight people off if they try a real intervention on me, so I need to have an easy way out. I need to always have a way out in case of an intervention because I'm really not interested in being on this planet if I'm gonna be forced to change when I don't want to. Yes, I'm serious. I don't have any interest in being here if that's what's gonna happen, so I would need an instant way out in case someone did an intervention on me that I couldn't escape from. My friend Eli was gonna try to teach me how to fight and how to be brainwash-proof, but until then, I would need a way out. I'd like to think that the odds of an intervention are low, but based on how little most people listen when I say to back the fuck off, I think the odds are pretty high. So I'll have to come up with a way out just in case. 

Advice on Getting Praised

This is my third installment in my series of writing better advice than the actual advice column. Here's the question (heavily paraphrased, since this was several years ago when it was posted):

I just got a part in a very big show that was really difficult to get into, and not one person has said congratulations to me! People are calling the house and saying congratulations to my mom! I'm the one who got into the show and no one is congratulating me!
-Fed Up

Answer:
1. First of all, congratulations! That's awesome that you got into the show, and you can definitely feel proud of yourself!

2. If people are calling the house and saying congratulations to your mom, let your mom know how you feel and ask her to hand you the phone when people call. If someone starts congratulating her for the fact that you got into the show, she can say, "Why don't you talk to Ashley? She's right here," and then let them congratulate you directly.

3. There are a few different reasons that your friends may not be congratulating you. The first is that they might not know you got into the show. Have you mentioned it to them? If so, do they know what a huge accomplishment this was and how much the show means to you? If you haven't already, share the news with your friends, let them know how competitive the show was and how proud you are of getting in, and give them the chance to congratulate you.

4. If you have already shared all of this information with your friends and they still are not congratulating you, it's possible that your friends feel like you are bragging about the show, or that they feel jealous. The jealousy is especially a possibility if your other friends also would have liked to be in this show. If this might be the case, ease up on talking about the show for a little while and make an effort to compliment your friends on the things that they do well, so that you won't sound like you're bragging or think you're better than them. When you do bring up the show again, focus on how you feel about getting into the show. Instead of saying, "I got picked out of 100 kids to be in the show. Isn't that awesome?" you could say something like, "I've been practicing my audition piece for three months and I'm so proud that all that work paid off!" If you let your friends know how much the show means to you in a non-bragging way, they should take the hint and congratulate you.

5. If you have adults who care about you and whom you can trust - parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, older cousins, teachers, or family friends - try talking to them about the show. Your peers might be feeling jealous, but adults who care about you are unlikely to be jealous or to be bothered if you sound like you're bragging. If you want to talk about the show and get lots of praise, and your friends just aren't ready for that yet, you may want to talk to a trusted adult about the show for the time being.

6. If after waiting a while, you bring up the show to your friends in a non-bragging way and they still don't congratulate you, it's time to let them know how you feel. Let them know that the show is important to you and it hurts your feelings that they have not congratulated you, and see what they say.


The most important part of this answer is that I respected the person's desire. Not once did I indicate that there was anything wrong with her wanting praise. I wrote a briefer version of this advice when the question was posted, but of course my answer did not get picked. A couple other answers recommended asking her mom to hand her the phone, but the dominant tone of the answers was, "Don't always expect to get praised for everything." Ugh! If she wants to get praised, that is her own business and is perfectly fine! Just answer the freaking question and stick to her desire without trying to alter it.

Yes, I'm Serious

This is a study abroad trip gone wrong. Very wrong. I don't like earthling cultures and I want to go home to planet bubblegum but my spaceship won't pick me up!

If I could do absolutely anything on this planet, I'd get believed. I'd just get everyone to believe me and accept that when I say something was a certain level of bad, that's how bad it was and there is no argument or comparison to anything else. Yes, I'm serious. I would choose that over world peace or ending world hunger or anything else. I didn't used to feel that way, but I do now. If people just actually believed me, then I might think about doing something better for the world with that power.

If your sentence starts with, "I know you don't want to hear this but..." DO NOT CONTINUE. Why on earth would I want to hear stuff that I don't want to hear?????

From now on, anytime I read something that pressures me to get on with my life or take responsibility for my own happiness, I'm going to either post the phrase, "I'm a product of my circumstances," or I'm gonna link to my video about never ever ever pulling it together. Anytime. So you'll be seeing the same posts and videos several times a day whether you all like it or not, and the only way I will ever stop is when there is a cultural shift towards people not being responsible for their own happiness. Yes, I'm serious.

I am getting business cards for myself - real, professional business cards that I am ordering through the mail - that say that I'm not going to suck it up, tough it out, or get over it, and I will hand these to people who expect me to do those things. Yes, I'm serious.

You tell me to bite the bullet, I will bite you. Hard. Yes, I'm serious.

The grossest place on earth is this place called Maine. I know I said I was okay going back there, but I've changed my mind, and I will never go there again. If I end up crossing the Maine border because I get lost on my way to New Hampshire, or I need a gas station, or the river ends up flowing through Maine while I'm already in it, I am going to scrub my skin till it bleeds to wash off Maine. Yes I am serious, yes it is that bad, and yes, I will go straight home if anyone says anything bad about how much I hate Maine and how I react to crossing that border. It's my own business and you all can fuck off.

I want to get a potato peeler and slice off pieces of my ex boyfriend's skin and make bacon out of them. Yes I'm serious. That wouldn't even damage much, it would just hurt. I wanted to just hurt him emotionally, but a good friend of mine said that I wasn't respecting neurodiversity by doing that because I wasn't accepting that his head is made of rocks, so I'll have to resort to physical pain instead. I probably won't get this opportunity, so I guess I'll have to settle for writing it in a horror story.

Speaking of writing, I'm planning to write my own Burn Book (from Mean Girls) with all of my enemies in it. It will be vicious and leave people lying awake at night crying just like they've done to me. Yes I'm serious. If you think I'm this sweet little thing that doesn't know how to be vicious, you're terribly misguided. Allow me to enlighten you.

Writing stuff on my blog and Facebook and especially stuff to be published like the validation book and my personality quiz book - these are all alternatives to doing really, really horrible things that would give adults nightmares and make them wake up in a cold sweat. I am not willing to move on or think about happier things. So basically, if you don't support me writing those lemon-thrower-dismantling-machine books, then you are supporting me doing worse things, and I will consider that you have encouraged me to do those worse things. Yes, I'm serious.

I want to start a cult and have a cult initiation. Yes, I'm serious.

I want to start a third blog where I can write all sorts of graphic horror story style things that would give people nightmares, and people who like reading horror stories could read that blog, not knowing just how real everything I wrote actually was. Yes, I'm serious. This blog is getting too good-girl for my taste, I need someplace to be more graphic and gross and not a place where people I don't like can find me and get me in trouble. To all the people who I apologized to in college, in fall 2009: I was lying to avoid getting in trouble. I wasn't sorry then and I'm not sorry now. I'm glad I freaked you out. Serves you right.

And I really think I want to ditch my old name and go by Amelia full-time. I keep signing everything "Nikki," and answering the phone, "Hi, it's Nikki." So what is anyone supposed to do but call me Nikki? I keep going back and forth, but I think Amelia is a better way to go. She's untamable for real and she writes on that graphic blog that will give people nightmares. I want to give people nightmares.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Psych Major

Sometimes I forget that I'm a psych major. Or was a psych major. It was a long time ago, but my psych major tendencies have stuck with me. They're in my writing. They're in the way that I analyze situations. My interest in psychology, and the fact that I have been a psych major, run studies that I came up with, and written journal-style psych papers is an inherent part of how I think about things, and will probably always be a part of me. And I think sometimes, the psych major is such a part of me that I forget it's there. I forget that psychology is a field that everyone hasn't studied. I forget that I'm writing in a way that is more technical and harder to understand than a short story.

I didn't think the unschooling post was technical when I first wrote it. I know that probably sounds weird, but having been a psych major, I wasn't comparing the style of that post to the style of my other blog posts. I was comparing it to the psych papers I've read, and I knew that my tone was much more casual and much less technical. I knew that what I did was too biased and subjective to be a real psych study. It could not be replicated, and it was clearly not something I could submit to a psychology journal. It was a personal experiment that I wanted to analyze and write up like a regular study.

I recently talked with my mom about about the unschooling post. I didn't read the whole post to her, but I explained what it was about, and how I didn't get the attention and responses that I've gotten in the past when I've shared things with my friends. We talked for a long time about the essay, and when I gave her a summary and read a few excerpts of the explanations, my mom said that it did sound very analytical, and that everyone might not understand the results or what the purpose of the study was. That makes sense to me now that my mom and I talked about it. I guess that post is really different from other things that I've shared and gotten instant positive feedback on. I didn't realize that at the time. That post came naturally to me because I've been a psych major. The way the post was organized is basically the way the information was organized in my mind. It's such an inherent part of the way I think that I forget that it's different from writing a regular story about something that happened to me.

I don't know exactly where the unschooling post belongs - it can't be a real psych study, but it seems too technical to go viral on the internet like I had hoped it would. I think I need more of a psych major audience - people who have done this sort of thing before and would be shocked by the graphs and by the 63% likeness score that I have with my unschooling self.

I'm still disappointed that I didn't get the attention and responses that I thought I would get on the unschooling post, but I guess it was just an issue of the post being too technical. I don't want to change the premise of the post because I've been wanting to do this analysis for a long time and write it up like a psych study. I'm still happy with the final result, and I will probably still do my supplementary post because I like it. But at least now I feel like it was the language and structure of that post that was the problem, not that people didn't care, and I can definitely post other emotionally intense things that are not psych studies and probably get a great response.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Practical Advice

A while back, I responded to a question that a girl wrote in the advice section of the American Girl website, giving her the good advice that no one else would say (well, that the adults running the site wouldn't post anyway): http://yourownkindofmusic.blogspot.com/2013/09/advice.html

I'd like to do the same thing with more questions that jump out at me. This question is heavily paraphrased because it's no longer posted:

Question:
I love to write stories, but recently, my brother accidentally deleted my story from the computer. Now I feel so discouraged that I can't get myself to write anymore. How can I get myself motivated to write again?
-Discouraged Writer

My Answer:

1. First of all, your story that got deleted might not be gone for good. If your brother accidentally deleted it, it might still be in your computer's recycle bin. Check there first. If the file is not on your computer, ask yourself if you might have saved a backup copy without realizing it. Did you email the story to any friends or family members to share it with them? If so, you will have a copy of the story saved in your email. If you cannot find the story yourself, the file might still be on your computer, but not in a place that you can access easily. Try searching the internet for ways to recover the file, or ask someone who knows a lot about computers to help you.

2. If you cannot recover the file, it's totally okay to feel upset about losing that story. If you are up for it, try to write as much as you can remember of the story, even if you have to summarize and paraphrase a lot of things. Since you just wrote the story recently, it might still be fresh in your mind, and you might be able to recover a lot of it from memory.

3. Plan to back up your work going forward. Every time you write a story on the computer, save it in more than one place. You can use a memory stick, or email a copy to yourself (or both). Make sure that you have a backup of each story someplace other than on your computer, in case the computer malfunctions. Make sure that when you make changes to a story, you update those changes on your backup files as well. It is really disheartening to lose things that you have worked so hard on, but by finding a way to backup your files from now on, you can ensure yourself that this will not happen again and all of your future stories will be safe.

This is the answer that I would need to hear if I were in this girl's shoes, but it's an answer that no one gave. Absolutely no one mentioned anything about getting the original story back. Maybe I'm underestimating the tech-savviness of kids today. Maybe I should assume that kids today would know enough to look in the recycle bin even though I would not have known that when I was younger. But there are ways to recover lost documents nowadays and this person probably does not know all of those options. None of the other answers that got picked for this question included advice on recovering the original story - they just accept that it's a lost cause and push her to move on from the past. It really bothers me that this story might have still been within her reach, but no one gave her the advice to try to get it back.

Secondly, the clear solution to this problem is to back up her work going forward. While it doesn't fix the issue of the first story being lost, it fixes the issue of having to worry that this might happen again. If I were in this girl's position, knowing that I had a plan in place so that I would never lose my work again would make a huge difference to me, and would make me a lot more interested in continuing to write. Out of all the answers that got picked (about 10-15), only one mentioned anything about backing up documents going forward. All the rest were just words of encouragement, telling the person not to "let" this incident get her down.

Being encouraged in the sense of having people tell me I'm a good writer and they wanted to read more of my stories would help a little, but the main things that would help me would be trying to get the original story back and having a plan in place so that this would not happen again. If the first story could not be recovered, I would definitely need a lot of warm fuzzy cuddles because I would be upset, but ultimately, the only way I would really keep going after that would be to have the preventative plan in place.

It's such a simple solution, but most of the "advice" that got picked said nothing about backing up your work and were all just, "You can do it!" and "Go for it!" and "Don't let this get you down!" None of that advice would help me at all, and I'm just hoping that if this person is the same way, that someone in her life showed her how to back up files going forward.

An Every Day Need, Part 2: Reasoning Doesn't Matter

In my last blog post, I explained that cuddles, attention, and talking about feelings are everyday needs for me, similar to food, and that I'm not just going to live on the memory of a nice time with family and friends anymore than I would live on the memory of eating a meal. I want to use this analogy to explain one more thing, and that's this: when it comes to my emotional needs, the reasons that they are not getting met do not make any difference in terms of how I feel. If there was a very good reason that I didn't get to eat on a certain day, that would not change how hungry I felt and would not make me more able/willing to function without food. In the same way, even if there is a very good reason why I can't get my emotional needs met, that does not make a difference in terms of how bad I feel and how able/willing I am to function.

Here are two examples of times when I was extremely hungry, beyond the point of functioning:

The first time, I was on a trip with my boyfriend's family. We were on this walk along the beach, very far from the car, and we ended up staying there much longer than I had anticipated. I told my boyfriend that I was getting very hungry and wasn't going to stay there anymore, but he wouldn't go back with me. I ended up having to run back to the car by myself, after I said I was ready to pass out, grab the car keys from his parents, and carry the big heavy beach bag back to the picnic table by myself because my boyfriend wanted to walk back a different path with his sister instead. This was not okay.

The second time, my aunt and I had to take my grandma to the hospital in an emergency. My aunt and I stayed with my grandma from early afternoon until about 8:30 at night without eating anything, and when I finally got home, I felt like I was going to pass out, the same way I did on the vacation.

Now, in some ways, these two stories are very different from each other. In the first story, my boyfriend was at fault. What he did to me was not okay. In the second situation, no one was at fault. My grandma had an emergency and we had to take care of her, and I do not regret staying with her the whole day. When I look back on that time, I mainly remember being worried about my grandma. The fact that I didn't get to eat dinner is just not at the forefront of my mind, and it's not something that I would look back on say was not okay in that situation.

In terms of stepping back and deciding if something was okay or not okay, these experiences were very different. But in terms of how I felt as a result of being hungry, these circumstances were really not that different at all.

When I got home from the hospital, I tried to grab a pizza at this place that has full pizzas made and ready to go. I almost ran people over when I parked. These kids were just using the parking lot as their personal playground, and I had to slam on the brakes and turn into a parking space really fast and I almost dented someone's car. Then when I got in, I couldn't even order a pizza. There was no line, no organization, everyone was just hanging around like idiots staring at the menu and not being clear about whether or not they were in line. The people who worked there were showing no signs of doing anything, no signs of saying, "I can help the next person who's ready," or anything. I left because they were such idiots and almost ran over people again when I was leaving. I drove back to my boyfriend's apartment at about 50 mph in a 30 zone and came in screaming that everyone at that pizza place was a fucking idiot and wouldn't even let me order a pizza, and my boyfriend had to go and get a pizza for me because I couldn't do it myself.

In the situation with grandma, the fact that I had a very good, legitimate reason for not getting to eat on time did not change how hungry I felt, or I how I behaved as a result. The same is true of my emotional needs. Sometimes people think that I should be more understanding of that fact that other people have lives and can't always cuddle and talk about feelings and meet my emotional needs, but the fact that other people might have legitimate reasons why they can't be with me at a certain time does not change how I feel. It's basically the difference between the vacation scenario and the scenario with my grandma. If everyone is busy when I really want to be with them, I would not be angry at them in the meta sense of looking back and saying, "It was not okay that you did this to me." That would be how I would feel if someone blew me off, or if I was going through something so devastating that they really should have made time for me regardless. But when there is a legitimate reason that I'm not getting my emotional needs met, that does not change how I actually feel as a result of not having my needs met. It's the same as when I didn't eat while my grandma was at the hospital - I behaved exactly the same as I would in any circumstance where I was that hungry, and the fact that there was a very good reason why I didn't eat on time made absolutely no difference.

So no, I'm never going to be mature and accepting of the fact that I'm not getting my emotional needs met, no matter what the reason is. Reasoning doesn't change how I feel.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

My Lemon-Thrower Dismantling Machine

[This conversation is heavily paraphrased because I don't remember it exactly.]

A couple months ago, I went over to my friend Eli's house feeling like I was getting nowhere. Writing a validation book just didn't seem to be getting me anywhere. It didn't feel like I was doing something about the problem. Writing a book felt like I was making lemonade. (In the sense of, "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade"). I don't want to make lemonade. I don't ever want to derive anything good out of a bad experience or grow stronger from painful experiences. When life gives me lemons, I want to throw them right back at the person who threw them at me. And I just felt like writing a book as a result of bad things that have happened to me was a lemonade sort of thing to do.

But Eli didn't think so. Eli was surprised that I thought my book was lemonade. I said to Eli, "But I'm producing something good as a result of something bad. Isn't that the definition of lemonade?"

 Eli said, "But your book is trying to stop the bad things from happening. When someone invalidates you, you don't use that as strength or motivation, you try to stop it from happening."

That was true. I never used invalidation as motivation or any kind of push to write my book (because that's not what it is). I mainly take invalidating statements, analyze them under a microscope, and figure out what exactly makes them invalidating. "That's true," I told Eli, "But I just don't feel like I'm destroying anything! When something bad happens to me, I don't want to do something constructive about it, I want to do something destructive. I want to fight back hard and destroy the thing that hurt me, and right now I feel like I'm just giving people a grammar lesson."

"But you are being destructive!" Eli said.
"I am?"
"Yes. If we use the lemon example: Say there's a lemon thrower machine and it keeps throwing lemons at you. You're not letting the machine do its thing and making something useful out of the lemons. You are trying to stop the machine from throwing lemons."

"But I don't feel destructive," I replied. "I feel like I'm doing something constructive."

"Sometimes in order to destroy a machine, you have to build another machine to dismantle it. That's what you're doing right now. You're building a machine to dismantle the lemon throwing machine. The act of building may feel constructive, but the goal is still to stop the lemon machine from throwing lemons at you."

That made sense to me. I felt so much better after that conversation. I'm not making lemonade. I'm building a lemon-thrower dismantling machine. So watch out!