Saturday, September 26, 2015

On Display

I happen to wear glasses. If someone was really annoyed by people wearing glasses because they thought that everyone should wear contacts or get eye surgery, they would not come up to me and try to bond over how annoying it is that people wear glasses, since they would observe that I was wearing glasses.

I wish that I had something I could wear at all times that would let people know that:
-I am untamable.
-I don't have any work ethic.
-I have no respect for rules or authority.
-It was not okay that I was forced to go to school.
-I was not a good kid, and if I could go back in time, I would bite, hit, kick, pinch, scream, do whatever I had to do to get adults to back off and take me out of school. I sincerely wish that I had bitten the principal's face while I had the chance. 
-I will never take responsibility for things that happen to me. It's other people's fault for doing stuff to me, regardless of how I react.
-I act how I feel, and my feelings are 100% based on my circumstances. If you like me because I seem happy or cheerful, you don't actually like me. You like my circumstances.

I just wish there were some way to display this information about myself the way that my glasses are visible to the world. I wish there was something I could do to make these things outwardly obvious to everyone so that no one would ever come over to me and try to bond over how annoying it is that other people are like what I just described, or worse - bonding over the fact that "we" are not like that, without even asking me.

I think the next time this happens, I'll say something like, "Yeah, it's really annoying that people with blond hair (or whatever color hair they have) exist! Why can't they all just dye their hair brown like mine?"

Inside Out Movie Night! (And Book Party!)

I'm getting Inside Out on DVD the day it comes out. Since everyone didn't see it in the theater, I figure I'll have a movie night so everyone can see it (or see it again). I'll make hot chocolate for everyone with marshmallows and whipped cream and then we can be all nice and warm and cozy and watch the movie and talk about our feelings.

Since I never finished the movie review that I started, I'm going to wait until the DVD comes out. That way, I can go through the movie and analyze it piece by piece. It will be a pretty long blog post, probably not a project I'm going to start till I finish my book. It will actually be a nice project to look forward to after I finish my book, when I feel like I need a little break before I edit. There's always a void when you finish super huge project, so I can fill that void by writing my Inside Out review. I'm going as Sadness for Halloween and my two friends are going as Joy and Anger. I'm hoping we have two other friends to be Fear and Disgust, but we'll see.

I'm also going to have a party when I finish the book! I'm anticipating that this will be before Halloween and before Inside Out, but I can't say for sure, I'm not good at predicting these things. Like, I'm thinking that I just need to edit, then I go through and edit and I'm like, woah! I totally need another whole chapter here because I never addressed this important issue, I just started talking to the reader like they already knew about that issue. So, yeah, those moments happen a lot so it's impossible to have a set date when I'll finish but when I do finish it'll be party time! I definitely want to invite people over to my apartment when I finish, as opposed to going out somewhere. If the timing works out, it could be the same party as the Inside Out movie night, but if I finish the book long before that, then we could have a board game party at my place! I've been itching to play Game of Things again because it's great practice for subversion skills. Teeheehee :-)


Friends Who Know You Better than Pinterest

When you find friends who know you better than Pinterest, hold onto them. Friends like this are precious and hard to find.

I don't mean that sarcastically. I'm serious. Because there's a way that Pinterest knows you, in a way that other websites and apps don't. And yes, I know that it doesn't really know you, it's just an algorithm and word associations and all that, but it got me thinking how good friends know and accept each other.

So, my awesome friend got me hooked on Pinterest, and it has been great so far! I always thought that Pinterest was mainly for recipes and crafts, but I have found all sorts of fascinating things there. I've found tons of writing tips, including lists of words. I have my own list of words for "said" that I put together years ago, but I've found some that I didn't include. There was one pin written by a hunter who spends a lot of time in the woods and also reads a lot - it was a list of things that most authors get wrong about the woods - like for instance, that's almost impossible to run fast through the woods - and recommendations for how a person could realistically capture someone who ran off into the woods, or avoid being captured by someone who chased them into the woods. It was such interesting advice that you just wouldn't find by google searching for writing tips.

Then there's all the psychology stuff. I've found tons of interesting articles about personality psychology. I finally understand the difference between sensing and intuitive on the MBTI. I'm an INFP, but also very close to being INFJ. I've always focused exclusively on just the difference between perceiving and judging, but I've found lots of information about the overall differences between INFPs and INFJs, because the traits interact with each other in different ways that go beyond just the differences between perceiving and judging. I've found some really fascinating personality psychology pins.

It's funny, I just keep pinning and pinning and figure I'll go back and add my own captions later (unless I really don't like the caption that's there already and need to change it before I can put it on my board), but now I've got 522 pins and only written about 10 captions. So, yeah...

So, here's the thing: a lot of websites nowadays "know you." Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, Netflix, Youtube, etc. They recommend people you may know or want to follow, movies you might like, other products you might want to buy, based on your past preferences. You know it's just automated, just based on statistics. I know Pinterest works the same way. But it feels different.

Let's take Facebook for example. When I was in college, I went looking for a Facebook group for people who were homesick. This was in 2008, back when the design was different and Facebook was mainly for college students. When I typed in the word "homesick," I had literally had to scroll through ten pages of groups (not ten groups - ten pages, each with tons of groups), that were called "I'm not homesick - I get school-sick when I'm home!" Ten pages of groups like that before I could find one single group about actually being homesick. The school-sick groups had 200-300 members, whereas the homesick groups all had less than 100 members. I felt more alone than ever. But of course, the phrase, "I'm not homesick" contains the word "homesick," and Facebook automatically sorted by popularity rather than relevance.

Similar things have been impossible to find on the internet. I have often ended up with search results that are the exact opposite of what I'm looking for - things that put down what I'm looking for and convince people to not be like me. That has happened most of the times that I've gone searching for support online. Even an INFP group I looked at had the admins telling people to suck it up and deal. You find people claiming that it's a problem that so many college students are depressed - but a problem with the students themselves, rather than the system.

Back to Facebook: For years, Facebook kept giving me these ads for going back to school for various degrees. Every single time I saw an ad like that, I exed it out. Half the times I wrote in "I hate school!" as the reason I didn't like the ad, other times I clicked "Against my beliefs." I did this every day, for every ad, and it had absolutely no effect. The school ads did not stop until I turned 25 and was no longer in the demographic for them.

At one point I had 400-something Facebook friends, and now I have a much smaller group. Observation: when you have a smaller-than-normal number of Facebook friends, Facebook badgers you a lot more about adding more people than it does when you have a lot of friends. Now, if I were designing Facebook, I would do this the other way around: if someone only has 30 FB friends and is not new to FB, I would assume that they don't want a large group of FB friends and leave them alone. If someone has over 500 FB friends, I would assume that they do want a large group of FB friends, so I would put extra effort into recommending friends to them. This is just basic logic, but Facebook doesn't work that way because it wants to change people who only have 30 FB friends into the kind of people who have 500.

Pinterest is the only website where I've ever felt truly accepted. It's the only place that I've been able to search for most things without getting tons of results that try to talk me out of wanting what I want and feeling how I feel. Most things, but way more than normal.

I didn't go searching for introvert stuff initially. I searched INFP, repinned some things, and the next thing I knew, I was getting tons and tons of recommendations of introvert pins, and the boards with these pins led me to even more introvert pins. And let me tell you something: this is not normal. This is not like pinning a birdhouse and then getting lots more tips on how to build birdhouses. It's not normal to get tons and tons of pins that affirm introversion and treat it as perfectly okay. The normal response - both in real life conversations and most online search engines and even forums - is about how to stop being introverted and get out more. You just cannot search a word like "introvert" without getting tons and tons of people trying to change you. But on Pinterest, you can. It is literally the first website I've used where this was true.

Then there's Grumpy Cat. Now, Grumpy Cat is a well-known meme, so you can pretty much search for Grumpy Cat anywhere on the internet and find it. But the overall concept of being grumpy and saying "fuck everything" - how many places can you say stuff like that nowadays and have it validated and get more of it in return, instead of being told to smile more? When Pinterest started recommending more Grumpy Cat, more "fuck everything" memes...it was special. It's not something that happens very often. Only very, very good friends do that sort of thing.

And this is what brings me to the whole "Friends who know you better than Pinterest." See, the kinds of results that I get when I search for stuff on the internet - results that try to talk me out of my feelings and what I really want - that's how a lot of people talk to you. A lot of people - okay the vast majority of people I've talked to - automatically try to change me. If I say I don't like doing something, that's an invitation to try to get me to like it. If I say I do like something, that's an invitation to get me to stop doing it. It's the same way that if you search "emotional validation," you get all these quotes that pressure you to not need the thing that you searched for, rather than actually finding stuff about validation. (I am planning to fix this glitch when my book gets published).

In the world of the internet, I feel like Pinterest represents true friends - people who accept you for who you are and don't try to change you unless you express a desire to change. On Pinterest, you would need to express the desire to change yourself by pinning something related to the change, because Pinterest doesn't "recommend" things to you unless you've given it a reason to assume that you might like those things.

Pinterest isn't perfect - I have gotten recommendations of pins about accepting things you can't change and being positive and things like that - but I can always tell where Pinterest got those ideas from. I can always look at a pin and think, okay, this is the opposite of me, but I can see how this is connected to other things I've pinned by association of what other people would normally pin together. It always feels like Pinterest has good intentions - the intention of matching me, not changing me.

The same is true for good friends. Knowing each other better than Pinterest doesn't mean finding tons of things that the other person will be interested in. It doesn't mean we have to always accurately guess everything about each other. It doesn't even mean that we have to be right all the time. It's about intention. It means that even if I recommend something to a friend that they don't like, I did it because I sincerely thought that they would like it, not because I want to change them into the kind of person who would like it.

That is what I mean about good friends knowing each other better than Pinterest. It means that if someone says they love blueberry pie, you talk about blueberry pie rather than saying, "Blueberry pie is bad for you, so let me talk to you about eating more salad." It means that, unlike a website search engine, we can actually read what inspirational quotes say, rather than lumping them all into the category of "inspirational quotes," so we have no reason to be telling someone to smile more when they've said that they don't want to, or to write a happy story when they want to write an angry or depressing story, or to accept what they can't change when they want to change what they can't accept. These are difficult distinctions for a website to get right, but *we* should be able to get those things right, or at least work towards getting them right.

The fact is, Pinterest accepts me and respects who I am more than a lot of people I've encountered. And it shouldn't be that way. It's a website. It shouldn't be able to accept me better than real people, but it does.

True friends are people who know you, accept you, and respect you more than Pinterest ever will.

Thank you for knowing me better than Pinterest. <3 nbsp="">

Friday, September 25, 2015

Home Stretch

This is how it feels to be so close to finishing:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cJ5iKRpE41E


Thursday, September 24, 2015

Trippin

So, at my workplace, they're trying to pressure people to quit smoking, and they have this article about how much money the average person who smokes spends on cigarettes and how much money you could save in the course of a year. That I can understand, if you are just talking about buying cigarettes themselves. But then they have these "added" expenses like, you'll need to spend more money repainting your house and getting your furniture professionally cleaned because smoking causes discoloration. Um....what on earth makes you think that just because someone's furniture and walls are discolored, they're going to fix those things? HELLO?????? Did you also take a survey and find that all the people you're talking to would actually do that sorta thing? Yeah, didn't think so. You'll have to get up pretty early in the morning to fool me! I don't smoke, but if I did, I would never, ever, ever get my walls or furniture fixed if they got discolored, and I don't get why you'd think that about me. I mean, that's like saying, "There will be a mess, therefore you'll have to spend time cleaning it." Why on earth would you think that because a mess exists, I'm gonna clean it? Seriously! Someone is tripping.

Monday, September 21, 2015

I'm Not Drawing a Blank

I don't draw blanks at job interviews. I just don't. I know myself very well, and if you ask me a question about myself and give me enough time to think, I will have an answer. I just don't draw blanks.

When I appear to have drawn a blank at a job interview, it's because every time you ask me a question, my real answer comes flooding into my mind at the forefront, and I have to brush that aside and try to figure out what answer I should give, or how to alter my real answer to make it okay to say at a job interview. When I freeze up and don't say anything, it's because you won't like my real answer, and I can't come up with an answer that you will like. It by no means implies that I actually don't have an answer.

If I appear blank, it's because I'm trying to figure out how to please you. I don't draw blanks. I always have an answer.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Arthur

What the hell is up with the new Arthur? Sue Ellen Adds It Up promotes pressuring people to be something they're not and insisting that they are the thing they say they're not. Last Day is all a bunch of grownup propaganda promoting hard work and learning and totally anti-new-age and anti-unschooling and total yay let's work hard and do lots of homework and learn propaganda! WTF????

Sue Ellen Adds It Up is seriously bad - it reminds me of all the people who can't accept that some of us don't like learning. It's okay to hate something and not use it and not want to associate with using it.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Friendship through the Decades

1990's: Friends stick together through thick and thin!
2000's: Friends stick together through thick and thin!
2010's: Only keep positive people in your life! If your friend isn't happy, ditch them for someone who smiles more!

Time of Day

Sometimes I just email myself backup copies of my book labeled " validation book."

Other times, when I'm working more intensely on it, I'll add the date to the topic, like "validation book 9.14.15" so I can easily tell which draft is most current.

I'm at a point now - and I've never done this before with any piece of writing - where I actually have to add the TIME of day to the topic, like "validation book 9.14.15, 7:14 pm."

Again, I don't wanna say a deadline out loud because I feel a little superstitious about that, but I'm very happy with where this is going...

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Torn

The whole "full integrity" vs. "greater effectiveness" is sort of like this:

Back in high school, a club I was in was raising money for a local animal shelter. We chose this shelter specifically because it was a no-kill shelter, so we wanted to support that. At some point, a classmate said that she wanted to adopt a dog, but she had mixed feelings about which shelter to adopt from. On the one hand, she wanted to support the no-kill shelter for doing the right thing, but on the other hand, adopting a dog from a shelter that does euthanize could save the dog's life. So it was a tough call.

This isn't as extreme, but the concept is the same: do I go for full integrity, giving support to people who are doing the right thing and taking a stand against people who aren't, or do I do what will make my book reach more people, and possibly have a bigger impact on the world, but also possibly supporting and adding to the non-consent culture that the book is supposed to be attacking?

Friday, September 11, 2015

Integrity vs. Effectiveness

I need to make the difficult decision of whether to go for full integrity or greater effectiveness in my book. It's a tough call.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Hmm...

Oh how wonderful it is to discover things now that I would have discovered 20 years ago if adults had backed off.

Just need arbitrary dates. No one'll ever tell ya that! You gotta figure it out through experience, through climbing trees and falling down and climbing back up but this time leaving a big pile of pillows at the bottom to land in.


Monday, September 7, 2015

You Got 13 Years to Wear What You Wanted, and I Got 4

I've said this already a gazillion times, but I will say it again, if someone says that something is not acceptable, that this is not acceptable, regardless of how many other people are perfectly okay with the same thing. Yes, I am serious. If I have a problem with something that most people are okay with, even if literally every single other person on the entire planet was okay with it, that thing would STILL be a problem because it is a problem for me. Got it? The fact that other people don't write or complain as much as I do IS NOT MY PROBLEM. Oh, I'm sorry, I totally didn't realize that I was in your home, sitting on your hands, preventing you from typing your troubles on Facebook. Totally didn't notice that I was doing that. Here, let me move.

Seriously, there's infinite space on the internet, it's not like we share a tiny whiteboard and I'm hogging it. My complaining a ton online does not prevent you from doing the same. Not complaining is not an accomplishment, so stop trying to pretend that it is. Writing a 100-page essay about how horrible college was IS an accomplishment. Not writing anything about how bad your experience was is NOT an accomplishment.

I just wanted to establish that even if you have been through all the exact same stuff as me or worse and you're okay with it or aren't complaining, that does not mean that it's okay for me or that I shouldn't be complaining. It's not my problem that you're okay or that you are not complaining.

But the fact is, those of you who claim that "everyone" else went through the same thing and was fine with it? You're wrong. You didn't. You have no idea where I come from.

You got 13 years to wear almost whatever you wanted every day. I only got 4.
You got 13 years to wear nail polish and jewelry. I only got 4.
You got 13 years to choose what you wanted to eat for lunch without needing to forge a doctor's note. I only got 4.
You got 13 years to have more than 25 kids to play with or eat lunch with. I only got 4.
You got 13 years of the possibility that maybe that kid who picked on you won't be in your class this year, that maybe someone new will be in your class and you can make a new friend. I only got 4.
You got 7 or 8 years of opportunity to see all different people throughout the day, to have getting stuck in a class with people you don't get along with be a much lesser issue because you won't have to see them all day. I only got 4.
You got at least 7 or 8 years to sit with people who were not in your class or your grade at lunchtime. I only got 4.
You got 7 or 8 years of choosing elective classes and having a teensy bit of say in your schedule. I only got 4.
You got 7 or 8 years of having way more than 5 after school activities to choose from, increasing the odds that something might interest you. I only got 4.
You got 7 or 8 years of having so many activity choices that you would never be the only person in your grade not involved in a particular activity. I only got 4.
You got 7 or 8 years of having such a large community of different people that you would never be the only person who didn't attend a particular function. I only got 4.
You got 7 or 8 years to live in a non-small-town environment where people aren't watching you all the time, where everyone doesn't participate in all of the community events, where you regularly meet people who have not had your profile on file since you were four years old. I only got 4.

Don't pretend to know where I come from. You don't. You never will.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Broken Promise

I promised myself a long time ago that I would never ever have sex with a guy - even using protection - who would try to stop me, shame me, or in any way have a problem with me getting an abortion if I got pregnant by accident. Just in case the condom broke and the morning after pill didn't work. I promised myself that. And I never even asked him. At the time, I just felt like it would be okay. When I look back on it now, I feel like I betrayed myself. If I ever do that again, I'll have to be 100% sure first.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Surveys

So, a lot has been going on, and someone sent me a personal attack in one of my survey responses, attacking people like me who feel like talking on and on and on about our problems and bad things that happened to us and things other people have done to us. And just to be clear, the fact that other people have issues and aren't going on and on and on about them is not my problem. Last I checked, I was not sitting in someone's house holding their hands down so they can't type on the computer. There is an infinite amount of space on the internet, and it is not my problem that other people choose not to write about their problems.

Anyway, I had to delete the survey result so that I can access my surveymonkey account without feeling bad about myself. Like I've mentioned before, I'm a feelings-first person and one of the neediest people you'll ever meet - feelings always come before things like survey data collection protocol (especially since this is personal and not for a company or anything).

When I wrote the survey, I was feeling great because I was in my element. I truly LOVE writing surveys, and if I had a bigger group of people to take them like I did in college, I would write lots more, and write them much more regularly. (Not that college was good at all, but I had access to a school-wide email list where I could send out surveys. It was common for people to send out surveys on the email list, and since it was the whole school, I wouldn't feel like I was bombarding the same friends over and over again with surveys because different people would take them each time).

So, to make myself feel better, I've decided to show off all of the surveys that I've written, because I do think I'm good at making surveys, and I love doing it:

1. Quitting Experiences Survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/5BPY97M
Open to: Everyone.
Purpose: Research for my first novel. I ask people about their experiences of wanting to quit something but having a hard time doing it, and different pressures involved in not feeling like you can quit.
Results: Wonderful. I learned a lot about the feelings and pressures that are involved in quitting, and I felt a connection with a lot of the people who took the survey. I got a very wide range of responses, which was great! Some people wrote about extra-curricular activities they got involved in and decided they wanted to quit. A few others wrote about trying to quit harmful things, such as addictive drugs and self-harming. One person talked about wanting to quit working hard at their schoolwork when things got very difficult. These results were helpful not only for my novel, but for my general understanding of the difficulties of quitting. I'm referencing the results again to help with the quitting section of my validation book.
Is it still open? YES! Even though my novel is done, this is an area of extreme interest for me, and I would absolutely love to hear from more people! (Especially since I have a new, non-Colby demographic now!)

2. Summer Camp Survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/5H7PFSB
Open to: People who have attended an overnight summer camp. Any duration of stay is fine. This survey is preferably for people who would have gone to camp from the 1990s to the present.
Purpose: Research for my first novel. My novel takes place at a psychology experiment program that is similar to a summer camp, but different. Since I've never gone to overnight summer camp, I wanted to know what a normal camp experience was like on different aspects. I mainly needed to figure out what the characters would have been expecting from a summer camp, how the program in the book is different, and how they would have felt about the changes.
Results: This survey helped me out a lot in terms of organizing my novel and figuring out what my fictional summer program was really going to be like. It did not feel quite as successful as the quitting survey because I did not get the same wide range of responses. Basically, everyone who responded loved camp and no one who answered the survey felt much homesickness or had anything negative to say about the experience. In the quitting survey, I'm pretty sure that I got a mix of responses from Colby and non-Colby students, but in the summer camp survey, I think I got exclusively Colby students. Colby students are more likely than my other friends to have had the opportunity to go to summer camp, and to have enjoyed that experience. I also advertised the survey on the email list as "Share your summer camp experience!" because I knew that would attract more people, but that also might have deterred people who didn't like camp from answering the survey at all. The quitting survey made me feel more connected to other people, but reading the camp survey results, as someone who would have hated summer camp, made me feel pretty lonely. My college was very much for people who loved summer camp, to the point that it was common for new freshman to say, "This feels like summer camp," and it was unheard of for college to be your first time away from home.
Is it still open? People are still welcome to take this survey if they would like, but I don't need the data anymore since it was mainly for this one novel. If I write another summer camp story someday, I will need to write a new survey for younger people, because I assume that camps are constantly changing with the times.

3. High School Summer Survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/5PK9NH7
Open to: Anyone who has made it to at least 12th grade of high school. (The survey is about what you did during the summer between 11th and 12th grades of high school, with the assumption that you planned to complete 12th grade).
Purpose: My novel takes place at an overnight summer-long program, and all of the main characters are in the summer between 11th and 12th grade of high school. It's important to the story that all of the characters are the same age, in the same grade. This summer felt right to me because of all the complicated feelings you have when you're about to leave everyone you grew up with. But after I finished writing and editing the book, I did a double take and realized, how many people would actually have time for a program like the one in my book during that summer between 11th and 12th grade? Most people have summer jobs. People planning to go to college might be looking at schools, preparing for the SATs, etc. This survey was meant to assess whether I could leave things as they are, or if I needed to push the story back to the summer between 10th and 11th grade because it's just not believable that this could happen between 11th and 12th grade.
Results: I actually never collected data on this survey. I made it, but never posted it anywhere, so no one has ever taken it or seen it. It was a combination of me deciding not to pursue publishing my first novel and me pretending to be someone who doesn't post a lot of stuff.
Is it still open? Yes! Even though I'm not working on the book that inspired the survey, I am often writing about high-school aged people, and this is very valuable knowledge for me to have. Also, this survey is very quick and easy. It's multiple choice rather than open response.

4. College Size Survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/5PRQ37V
Open to: Anyone who has been to high school and college. You do not need to have completed college, just been there long enough to get a feel for what college is like.
Purpose: I wanted to do this back in college, but I finally got the guts in 2013. My high school had 1400 students, and I liked that size. It was just right for me - not too big, not too small, just right. (I had previously been at a K-8 school with only 250 students and that was waaaaayyyy too small for me!) So I figured that when I applied to college, I should try to go someplace about the same size as my high school, since that size felt ideal to me. Colby College had 1800 students, but yet, it felt smaller than my high school. Much smaller. Living on campus instead of going back to your own house afterwards made it feel incredibly small. So I decided to make a conversion chart comparing high school size to college size. For instance, 1,000 students in high school might really equal 4,000 students in college. I was hoping to provide a resource like this to high school students so that they can make better choices about what size college they will be happiest at.
Results: I need more of them. I only got 4 responses including my own, and with the nature of what I'm doing, I really need a lot of responses to come up with a conversion factor.
Is it still open? Yes! This is the quickest and easiest of all the quizzes, and I really need more results in order to find that conversion factor.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Not Working

My survey is not working. I got three responses so far. One that I think was a joke (in a nice way), one that was clearly a personal attack on me, and one that was very nice and fits with what I know I would have *actually* been like if none of that bad stuff had happened, but I have no suggestions. Nothing I can DO that will make me like someone who was never disciplined and never went to school. I am at a total loss of what to actually DO right now.

The problem is that all the adults who forced me to be in school non-consentually - they will always take credit for everything good that I do. The English teachers who were strict and forced us to do lots of homework and studying and reciting prepositions and all - they would never, EVER believe that anything I wrote was a personal attack on them. Even if I called them out by name and said, "[Name], this is a personal attack on you, I am writing this because you forced me to do things I didn't want to do and it was not okay," they would STILL take credit for the fact that I was writing that, even though I was truly doing it in spite of them, not because of them. And if they didn't take credit for it, they'd still never believe that I was doing the bad thing because I was forced to be in school. That's the problem. I don't know what specific thing I need to do to make that happen.

If you get paid for something, you're making it in the world. You're being a good productive citizen. You turn out how the adults wanted you to turn out when they forced everything on you.
If you do something without getting paid, you're a volunteer, which is a positive thing to be, and yet again, they take credit.
If you don't get a job or contribute to society and you're living in your parents' basement without attempting to get a job, then they'll blame your parents fro not being strict enough. That's always what it goes back to. Okay, I guess in that case it's different because your parents are letting you stay in their house, but my point is, no one would ever believe that the REASON you have zero motivation and zero interest in contributing anything to society is a result of school and discipline. Never.
The only thing I keep coming back to that might have this affect is having a drug problem, and I do not want to go that route.

I just don't know what to do because nothing matters. No one ever believes me that I should have been an unschooler, and I don't have any hope of still becoming one. Does anyone care that I'm using my left hand to type at work? No. No one cares. That doesn't effect anyone except me, and it doesn't even feel like a full-on legit rebellion because my right hand is injured regardless. Does anyone care what's in my apartment? Okay, some people do, but it just doesn't feel like I'm doing anything that bad since it is my own space. Writing a book is like...a good thing to do. I feel like it doesn't even matter what the book is about. Writing a book will always be a good thing to do, always something that the adults who tamed me when I was younger and stole my time, energy, and life from me will take credit for. They'll act like they put me on that path, when in reality, they took me away from where I wanted to be. And that's my problem. It doesn't matter what the book is about. It's freaking book! What could possibly be more academically prestigious than writing a book? Like, I don't even think it would matter if I wrote a book about unschooling that full-on attacked my K-8 school and my college - they would always take credit for the fact that one of THEIR graduates wrote a book. Always. Even after I sent them The Unencrypted Truth. They would still take credit because I'm "their" kid. That's my problem.

I can't talk to a counselor or life coach because none of those people will support my goals. People like that always try to talk you out of what you want and get you to want something else. Get you to let go of how you're feeling and be okay with everything without DOING anything about it. I'm not dumb enough to think that any counselor out there would help me become an unschooler and act like I was never disciplined. Even if they have the knowledge and skills to do that, they're not gonna. I know that. I unfortunately cannot talk to anyone who is actually an expert in the psychology field because they'll push me to have different goals, rather than helping me achieve my real goals. If anyone knows a counselor who would help me become an unschooler/untamable, please let me know, but having been in the psychology world, I think it's gonna be very hard to find.

I don't know. Sometimes I think I should have gone into screenwriting or songwriting. It's easier to reach kids that way. When I'm writing books for kids, I feel like I have to get past parents somehow, but with music and TV, I would figure the parents probably don't know what their kids are watching/listening to. So that'd be easier. I don't know. I thought the survey would fix everything because I love writing surveys, and surveys have helped me out in the past, but this is not working. I know it's a holiday weekend coming up, so I'll repost the survey on Tuesday because I know most people will be busy this weekend.

I just want something that people who forced stuff on me can't take credit for. The problem is that if I *actually* behave that way that I legitimately think I would if I had been unschooled (which can't happen because that would involve me feeling much better than I actually do), the school people will take credit for how "well" I turned out. I need to NOT turn out well, and I need to be clear that it's because of what they did to me, not what they didn't do. I don't know how to do that. I feel like the stuff I've tried so far hasn't worked.

See, here's the thing. If I were *actually* a radical unschooler and I didn't go to a "prestigious" college, then I could do "positive" things like writing my books, and people would be like, "Wow, you achieved all this and never had any rules or discipline or formal schooling? That's unbelievable!" And I'd be taking a stand for all the kids out there like me who would only truly thrive without school and discipline in their way. I might cause parents to take their children seriously when they say they don't want to go to school. In fact, if I were an example of a kid who started out going to school, but hated it and was miserable and upset all the time, so my parents decided to take me out and then everything was better - that would be perfect. But unfortunately, I will never have that past. What actually happened will always be what actually happened, and any attempts that I make to behave as if something different had happened will always be attributed to what actually happened. If I started behaving exactly like my unschooling self, everyone who oppressed me would still get credit, because they are part of what actually happened. So I can't just go out and be the unschooling self that you saw in the unschooling post - I need to behave like people's perception of someone who was never disciplined. I need to behave like someone that you would think had never set foot in a strict private school and never got scared straight. That's what I'm aiming for here. I'm aiming for a full-on slap in the face to a lot of people, and I'm not gonna get that by writing a "self-help" book. Seriously, would you EVER pick up a self-help book in the store and think, "Wow, this person must have never been disciplined as a kid because they wrote this book?" Ever? Would that ever cross anyone's mind? Or would you say that about someone who took off their pants and mooned your grandparents at a family gathering? I guess it's clear what I actually need to do. I just wish I didn't. But if I don't get more suggestions through the survey, I'm gonna have to.

Why DARE is for Dumbasses

DARE is for dumbasses because they list all these alternatives to drugs that ain't got nothin to do with drugs! Like ballet and baseball and babysitting. Babysittin for heaven's sake! What the heck's babysittin got to do with drugs? Yo, ain't you DARE folk eva been to a grocery store? Ya eva see "I can't believe it's not butter?" Ya eva notice how it looks and tastes JUST LIKE BUTTER? It's called a "substitute product," man. Substitute product's supposed to be LIKE THE ORIGINAL PRODUCT, man. Know what i'm sayin? Babysittin ain't nothin like cocaine, man! You wanna be all, "Don't do drugs," go invent "I can't believe it's not cocaine!"

Please Take a Survey

Please take this survey that will help me to achieve my goals:

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/RV8ZJSZ

Thank you!!!!!!!!!

I'm the Big One Now!

I know a true story about a brother and sister: the brother was ten years older than his sister and used to bully her all the time. The younger sister always told him, "You may be bigger than me now, but someday when we're older, I'll still be young but you'll be an old man and I'll push you down the stairs." True story. When I think about all the adults who scared me straight into behaving and being a good kid when I didn't want to behave, I realize that I'm the big one now. I'm the one in power. They should be old enough now that I can push them down the stairs. THAT is what I want to do with my life! You may have scared me straight when I was little, but I'm the one in power now!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Writing and Goal-Achieving

In my validation book, there is a whole section about how to figure out how you work best in terms of accomplishing goals. In a world full of people pushing structure, deadlines, and pressure from other people on you, it can be really difficult to separate yourself from all of that and ask, "What works for ME?" The goal-setting section in the validation book is all about experimenting and trying different methods to learn what works best for you. In that spirit, I'd like to share some things I learned about myself while writing the validation book, that I never could have learned while I was on a school schedule:

1. I work best in my own apartment. I should have already known this since I've done creative work at home for my entire life. The issue is that when I got to college, I ended up spending a lot of time in the library. I will only work in dead silence, without other people around. When you're living in a college dorm, you pretty much have to go to the library if you want silence and want to be alone (not that you're technically alone in the library, but you're moderately safe from anyone interacting with you). I did everything in the library in college. Not just schoolwork, but my personal projects and fun stuff as well. (People *thought* I was studious because I was always in the library, but I wasn't there to do schoolwork - I was there to have silence and not have to talk to people). In spending all that time in the library, I began to think that that was where I worked best. When I wrote my first novel, I used to go to my local library every day with my laptop rather than just writing at home (I lived with my parents back then). I thought this would help me concentrate and make writing feel more like a job to me because I was leaving the house to do it, "going to work" so to speak. That summer I was working for my dad's business, and he works from home, so going to the library to write really was my daily getting up and going to work routine. The thing is, working in the library was not the best thing for me. At the time, it might have been because I lived with my parents, so the library felt more "alone." But once I started writing the validation book in my own apartment, I wondered why I ever considered going anywhere else.

When I'm here, I can pace around as much as I want, jump on my mini trampoline, go outside and walk around, get snacks when I want, etc. There are no limitations on what I can do here. One of the best writing sessions I had recently involved two hours of wandering around my apartment, daydreaming and talking out loud to myself, and then two hours of sitting and writing after that. A library environment is much more constrained, and I can't have that two-hour daydream session before I start working. When I'm sitting at a desk, I feel pressured to produce something, but when I'm sitting on the couch in my apartment with my laptop on the coffee table, I feel perfectly free to get up and run around. I get bored very quickly when I'm sitting down at a desk. In a library, I'm likely to spend much less time on my writing because I get bored quickly and want to go home - I don't have the option of jumping on my trampoline and then getting back to the writing when I feel like it. Since I want dead silence, being alone, and being free to move around and talk out loud and basically do whatever I want, the only place perfectly suited to me is my own home.

2. I need lots and lots of free, unstructured time. As I said, my best writing session recently came from a two-hour daydream session followed by a two-hour writing session. I need to have enough time to daydream and just think for as long as I want to. It doesn't work for me to squeeze in a little bit of writing here and there, between other activities. A lot of writers will advise you that you need to squeeze writing into your busy schedule rather than waiting till you have a lot of time, and that's fine if that works for you, but writing only works for me if I have tons and tons of free unstructured time. Time without pressure. If I only have one free hour to write, I feel pressure to get something written. One free hour is not good enough. I need very long stretches of free time in order to write, and I also need to know that I will have that time the next day, and the day after that. In other words, summer vacation never cut it for me. School breaks didn't cut it. Weekends didn't cut it. When I'm so busy most days that I don't have time to write, that puts way too much pressure on the little bit of time that I do have. I felt a ton of pressure to write my first novel in just the summer vacation months because I knew that I would have no time to work on it when the school year began. That deadline really messed with the way that I actually like to write, and took a huge toll on my enjoyment of the project. Limited time does not cut it. I need endless free, unstructured time to myself in order to write.

3. I do ETAs, not deadlines. I know everyone tells you that goals need deadlines, but I hate deadlines, and placing a deadline on anything - even something I love - can instantly turn that thing into something I don't want to do. I like to have a rough estimate in my mind about when I'd like to finish, but I treat it as an estimate, not a deadline. It's like when you're going on a very long road trip to visit someone, and you don't know exactly when you'll arrive. When we go to visit my family in Virginia, the drive can take anywhere between 8 hours and 10 1/2 hours. That's a huge variance. But the longer the trip is, the more variance you have. When you're visiting someone that far away, you don't have a definite meeting time. You can't say, "Let's meet at the coffee shop at noon," the way you would with a local friend. It's assumed that when the drive is that long, you get there when you get there.

And then there are tons of variables up in the air. Traffic, roadblocks, detours. Having to stop for gas, bathroom breaks, and food. Sometimes the route is smoother than other times. Sometimes the weather is nicer. Sometimes you may need to stop for gas more frequently, if you've been idling in traffic. Sometimes you'll grab fast food, other times you may decide to stop and eat at a restaurant. Sometimes getting to your destination quickly will be of the utmost importance, and other times you'll want to drive slower and enjoy the scenery and stop at places that look interesting to you. Sometimes you'll get tired and have to pull over in a rest area to take a nap (my dad has done this before). There are so many variables about how long the trip will take, you can't possibly promise a specific time that you'll arrive.

That's what writing a full-length book is like for me, or even just a very long blog project like The Unencrypted Truth. I can have a rough estimate of when I'll finish, based on my normal writing pace, the same way that google maps can multiply miles by speed limits and give you a rough idea of how long the road trip will take. But just as google maps can't factor in the weather conditions and rest stops and everything that could possibly affect your travel time, I can't factor in everything that could possibly affect when I will finish my writing projects. My initial estimate is always way off because that's the google maps estimate, saying that you'll arrive at your destination in 40 hours, without allowing you time to sleep. It's an estimate, not a deadline.

4. Going forward, my ETAs are private. I know I shared my ETAs this time around, but I learned from that experience that estimates of when I will finish are private from now on. I do not want anyone to develop expectations about when I'll finish a project. I don't want to feel accountable to anyone because I told them I'd probably be finished by a certain date. I decided to announce it when I hit 60,000 words and again when I reached 70,000, but that was because I'm very close to the end. 70,000 is probably my last benchmark until the book is fully finished. (I'm not aiming for 80,000 words because that would be too long - there is a delicate balance between being long enough to get taken seriously and also brief enough for people to want to read it). Announcing 70,000 words was sort of like when you're towards the end of a 10-hour drive and you call your family to say, "I'm about an hour away." If I had made an announcement when I reached, say, 40,000 words, that would have been bad because then people might have asked me how much farther I had gotten during times when I wasn't feeling well enough to work on the book at all.

5. I cannot be putting more effort into anything else that is less important to me than my writing, because then I will have to mimic that unwanted behavior when I write. I want to live a free, unstructured life, and I want to approach my writing in a free, unstructured way. People sometimes tell you to treat writing the same way you would treat your job, but the problem with that is that I don't really want to treat anything the way I treat my job, including my job itself. I don't want to work when I don't feel like working and push myself to keep going when I don't feel well. I don't want structure and rules and deadlines. The problem is that when I have something in my life, such as schoolwork, that I am treating that way, I cannot reconcile going through stuff I hate for school but not doing those same things for what actually matters to me. To do my homework when I don't feel like it, but not push myself to write when I'm not feeling well, would be to say that my homework is more important than my writing, which it's not. The reality is that I don't want to be treating my homework the way that I'm treating it, and the way I approach my writing more accurately reflects that way that I want to do everything. However, I can't be free and unstructured in my writing if I am being more rigid and structured in things that I don't actually want to do. In short, I cannot be treating anything that is less important than my personal writing as if it is more important.

Shhhh!

Fun Fact: Saying "Shhh" when a baby is crying will soothe the baby because it is similar to the sounds that they heard while in the womb. Going "Shhh" is about comforting, not telling anyone to be quiet.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

"No Day But Today"

Back in summer 2006, when I started keeping an online journal, I chose the title, "No Day But Today" because I didn't want to feel pressured to write about positive stuff. Yes, I know that sounds counter-intuitive, but here's what inspired me: I had gotten my heart broken at the start of the summer, which was what got me interested in writing the online journal in the first place. While I maintained an interest in doing lots of fun things with my friends, the heartbreak affected me for the entire summer, and was always in the back of my mind. I never accepted it and moved on because that's not the kind of person I am. It was a long time after that summer when I didn't feel upset at all about what happened.

So I was at my friend's party, which was a ton of fun. In a quiet moment, we starting talking about our online journals, and I told my friend that I had something depressing that I was planning to write about when I got home. My friend was like, how can you be thinking about something depressing when we just had this awesome party? And THAT was how I decided to call my journal "No Day But Today." It was not about living in the moment or only thinking about right now - it was about thinking, feeling, and writing in the moment about whatever I was thinking, feeling, and wanting to write about at a given moment. No Day But Today meant that if right now, at this exact moment, I happened to be thinking about my heartbreak that happened a month ago, I would write about that, regardless of the fact that I could instead write about the awesome party I just got home from.

I saw that other people's online journals were very much in the moment, about real-life events, and I knew that mine would be way more about things that happened in the past and, at that point in my life, things I was worried about for the future. No Day But Today meant that I would write whatever I wanted to write about at any given moment, and no one was allowed to judge me by the fact that I was feeling great in one post and miserable in the next post, or that I was writing something depressing just after a positive event took place (I could also write something positive after a negative event took place, but no one would complain about that).

So yeah. No Day But Today meant writing stuff that happened 5, 10, or even 20 years ago if that was what I felt like writing today. I never meant to assign myself any kind of responsibility to do anything. It was all about doing what I felt like doing at a given moment, rather than needing to do specific kinds of things. It was about writing in the moment, not living in the moment. That was what it always meant to me.

What "Every Moment Matters" Used to Mean, and Why It Doesn't Anymore

When I first got an online journal way back in 2006 (before college), I found a popular meme that I really liked:

To realize the value of ONE YEAR, ask a student who failed a grade.
To realize the value of ONE MONTH, ask a mother who has given birth to a premature baby.
To realize the value of ONE WEEK, ask the editor of a weekly newspaper.
To realize the value of ONE HOUR, ask the lovers who are waiting to meet.
To realize the value of ONE MINUTE, ask a person who just missed a train.
To realize the value of ONE SECOND, ask someone who just avoided an accident.
To realize the value of ONE MILLISECOND, ask the person who won a silver medal at the Olympics.



At the time, I loved this quote. I thought it was creative and brilliant and it really spoke to me. Back then. Not anymore. 

Why? Because back then, it was never about living every moment in ways that you didn't feel like living. It was never about dragging or pushing yourself to do things you weren't up for. It was never about pushing yourself to be happy when you didn't feel happy. It didn't mean you couldn't grieve for a long time or feel angry for a long time. It was not about forgetting the past and living in the moment. And it was definitely not about being responsible for your own feelings and happiness. This quote did not mean that happiness in a given moment was your choice.

What this quote DID mean to me, and why it really touched my heart, was that we should be able to do what we want and that it was wrong to oppress anybody by taking their time away from them and forcing them to do things that they don't want to do. It meant that the years of my life that I wasted in school mattered, in the sense that they should have been mine. It meant that when the end of the school year was approaching and my parents and teachers told me to "hang in there" when I wanted to quit studying and just have fun - those months mattered. Those weeks mattered. Those days mattered. You can't say, "It's only two more months, two more weeks, two more days till finals are over." There is no "only." That time was precious. That time belonged to me. That time should have been mine to spend the way I wanted. It meant that when I had to spend an hour doing homework when I wanted to spend that hour playing with my toys instead - that hour mattered. That hour was a big deal, and it should have been mine. The whole business of, "You can have fun after you've done your homework" was basically saying that those hours, minutes, and seconds of my life did not matter, that it was okay for me to have to do things I didn't want to do in that time. 

THAT is why I always loved quotes about every moment mattering. I felt like they were on my side. In every argument I had with my parents about wanting to just have fun and not go to school or do my homework, I felt like these "every moment matters" quotes were on MY SIDE, backing me up. They were telling adults in my life that those moments mattered, that my time was a big deal, and that I was right to not be okay with my time being stolen. That was why I initially liked this quote. That is why I WOULD continue to like this quote and to believe that every moment matters, if this was what it meant. 

But that's not what it means anymore. Now it's all about liking what you do as opposed to doing what you like. It's about being happy at every moment in spite of people oppressing you and stealing your time from you. If every moment really matters, then stop taking other people's moments away from them.

I don't believe that every moment matters anymore. If I believe that, it means I'm taking on responsibility for my own feelings, which I will never do. I am happy due to external circumstances, and the only way I would believe that every moment mattered would be if I could have chosen to be in circumstances that made me happy whenever I wanted. But every adult has taught me that my time does not matter, and most people nowadays who say that every moment matters are the people who will drag me out of my house and not accept that I'm still upset about things in the past.

Nowadays, the only way to grieve for a long time and take long periods of not functioning and feel how you feel about everything and take no responsibility for your own feelings is to decide that every moment does not actually matter. So, I guess that's where I stand now. I don't place any sort of value on my life or my time anymore, because that would just mean I have to do stuff. Wake me up when there's a cultural shift and that quote can mean what it once meant to me. It sure doesn't mean that anymore.