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Posts Tagged ‘Me’

I never ate in a cafeteria until college. Malls and hospitals might have been the closest I ever came to seeing what most children saw in school everyday growing up.

I was homeschooled. My experience, or lack of experience, with cafeterias is just one example of the many things that make me just a little bit different from the traditional school population. I found that most of these things are like cafeterias, most people would say that I didn’t miss much.

I didn’t see friends in class everyday. But if I finished my school work as efficiently as possible and I could spend most of the day playing with friends.

I never did a group project. But I learned to do everything on my own.

I never had specialized teachers with knowledge about specific topics. But I learned how to find a book on anything I wanted to know about.

I never had competition with other students. But I learned to challenge myself and compete with my own abilities to get better.

I couldn’t be in an honors program, no matter how well I did. But I learned to excel for its own sake without the need for recognition.

I never had any sort of dress code. But I learned that you probably won’t get anything done while you are still wearing pajamas.

I never got to stay home sick. But I learned to get work done even if I did it in bed.

I could never leave school. But I learned that even when you can physically leave school at the end of the day, you never stop learning.

I never had a list of extra-curricular activities offered to me. But I learned how to find any activity I wanted and get involved.

I never rode a school bus. But I never had to wait outside for the bus or missed it.

I didn’t have a class of people who became my automatic friends. But I learned I could make friends anywhere.

I never had a class of people exclusively my age. But I learned to be friends with people of any age.

I never fought with kids at school. But I learned that I had to resolve every fight with my three siblings because we couldn’t escape each other.

I never had a schedule made for me. But I learned to make my own schedule and get things done.

I never got sent to the principals office or a detention. But if I did anything wrong, my parents knew exactly what it was.

I never had a summer reading list. But I always made my own list that was impossibly long.\

I never had people tell me what was cool. But I got to decide for myself.

I never had a crush on a cute boy in my class. But I was never rejected or hurt.

I was never one of the popular kids. But I never learned to care about popularity or what other people thought of me.

I never had P.E. But I learned to like exercising.

I never got bullied. But I knew what it was like to be alone.

I never felt peer pressured. But I felt enough pressure from my parents and myself to make up for that.

I never ate with friends in the lunch room. But I never felt segregation, stereotyped, or excluded.

I never ate cafeteria food. But I learned how to make good choices about the food I ate.

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Black holes in time

BlackHoleToo often we think about what we did yesterday and we just can’t remember. Or last week. Or last month. Or last year.

I might remember I was at work yesterday, but whatever I did there is largely lost into the depths of completed and finished projects.

I love finding some item  or note from long ago that brings back a thought that would have been lost to me otherwise. I love going through old pictures or the trunk of useless objects and certificate I’ve acquired over the years. I’ve kept small toys, poems and stories I wrote, drawings, awards, and so many miscellaneous items that I am always discovering something forgotten.

Recently, I came across a journal that I kept for a writing class when I was about ten. I think that class may have inspired me more than perhaps any other writing class that I’ve taken. And that inspiration has stuck and grown over time. Reading through it made me think of so many different things: the ways I’ve changed and matured in a decade, the similarities… the arrogance of youth.

You think you know everything when you are ten.

I remember loving the teacher, Mrs. Curtis. She was patient and gave us broad categories, and knew how to give us a task but leave room for plenty of creativity. We were supposed to write about what we did each day, describing actual events and things we observed. My observations were full of childishly sincere thoughts. My journal is covered in her notes, encouraging me and chiding me for not doing something right.

More than once I wrote a poem instead of an entry. She would call me a little poet and scold me for not writing an actual journal entry. She taught me to read and write poems, and I loved finding words that rhymed and forming phrases. I loved using the words to make amusing and nonsensical verses and limerick.

That love of words has matured too, and translated into a love of pleasing prose more than those little rhyming ditties.

No more than some paper in a folder, that journal is a record of so many lost thoughts. When you think about there are only some events that we remember, with those filed away until something recalls them to mind, like a key that unlocks a cabinet. Like my little journal. That note, picture, smell, or place can bring back memories that have been long lost in time.

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harborI haven’t spoken a word all day.

Some people are physically mute. Some people take a voluntary vow of silence. For me, it’s a necessity. If I continue speaking, I may not be able to speak at all later.

A few times every year, I have to go on vocal rest. I retreat into myself, and don’t speak for hours or a day at a time.

Whenever this happens, it makes me think even more. It makes me wonder. It makes me write.

I’ve been like this since I was thirteen. I used to panic, my worst fear being that one day I would wake up and never be able to speak again.

Essentially, I have “delicate” vocal chords. What might make most people hoarse for a day, will make me hoarse for a month or longer. Talking, singing, medications, illness, asthma, acid reflux, environmental influences, and other things strain my voice to the point that it becomes difficult or painful to speak.

You might know a similar feeling if you’ve ever had laryngitis.

I can’t change it, and it will never really go away. I’ve accepted it, and learned that it is a burden I can manage. It takes a great deal of discipline, control, and caution to prevent strain or heal my vocal chords. When I’m not extremely careful, it gets worse.

I’m not speaking today because my voice became hoarse after I sang in a choir a month ago, and has been slowly getting worse again.

I’m at my family’s house now. It’s much easier, because my quirky family is accustomed to the peculiar situation and supportive. My parents put up with it, and my two brothers laugh at my expressions and silent jokes. My sister and most of my good friends have learned how to interpret and understand my gestures, and make the best of an interesting situation.

It is not always fun. You feel alone. Unable communicate with everyone as normal, it can quickly make you feel isolated and desperate. But it will make you stronger in the end.

You’d be amazed at the things you learn by keeping your mouth shut. You should try it. You become a better observer, listener, and non-verbal communicator. It can bring a sense of inner peace, allowing you to hear your own inner voice and even God better. It teaches you what needs to be said, what doesn’t, and how to pick your battles. It makes you value every word from your mouth, and from others. You learn to appreciate sound, and enjoy the silence.

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I am iPod impaired

StellaI was devilishly delighted the other day when I saw someone who was trying to untangle their twisted earbuds. At last, someone who understands the pain I endure! This poor person with the tangled wires has enlightened my life, for now I know that I am not alone!

I’ve never seen anyone else pull out a massive tangle of wires, and I suspect there is a secret to it… or people just hide while they straighten out the mess. If there is a memo to untangle earbud wires in private, I never got it and have been left as the one awkward person embarrassing everyone by doing my untangling in public. Everyone just seems to have their wires perfectly in place. I’ve tried to wrap the earbud wires several different ways so that I can discreetly unravel them and be on my way. There is some sort of iPod grace that I clearly lack as a newbie, and can only hope that it is learned, because if it is instinctive then I missed the boat and am doomed to be the awkward iPod user.

I just got an iPod Nano about three months ago, which means my first generation is everyone else’s fourth generation. It’s particularly frustrating because I’m generally a very competent person, and have no problems figuring out a new device or fixing problems. Yet, whenever I have my little orange iPod out, I’m incredible conscious that I get the long white wires caught on everything, they always get tangled, the earbuds never stay in my ears, and I’m likely to get run over by a car because I can’t hear well. This thin little device with twin chords seems to thwart all my best efforts.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten the wires caught on an earring, or the earbud ripped from my ear by a mischievous doorknob. It always startles me, and usually dislodges the earbud plug from the iPod. It always stops me in my tracks and causes me quite a bit of time to collect myself from the trauma
I’ve become quite convinced that I’m iPod impaired. I always see people with their little earbuds in, and they look so carefree and happy. I enjoy the music when I’m not distracted by all the mechanics, but most of the time I feel far more clumsy and inept. I would love to be able to dance with my own iPod like the Apple advertisements, jog down the street like the people dedicated to being healthy… or even sit on a train like everyone else with skinny white cords dangling from their ears.

I can’t even sit on a train without constantly fighting to keep the earbuds in my ears. I’m sure they were made as a one-size-fits-all (which often fits none), and I am clearly left out of “all” the people who have a standard-shaped ear. The worst is when I’m sharing earbuds with a friend, and they give me sideways looks as the earbud drops from my ear every thirty seconds. They mistakenly conclude they have been pulling it out and try to sit incredibly still, or even apologize. Their confusion recedes when I assure them it is not their fault; my ears were simply not designed for holding small, round pieces of plastic. They then bestow upon me amused, pitying, or haughty glances as their own earbud stays snugly in place. They understand now.

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I’m not a writer

I have always resisted calling myself a writer. In the most basic sense, you could argue that a child with the ability to write his own name is a writer. I may be a writer by this standard, for I can certainly write my own name, but this is a bit too broad for my taste.

If one were particularly pretentious, he could insist that only those who write well are writers; by writing well, he would of course, imply those who write well by his own standards. There is this fuzzy line from those who cannot write, those who can write, and those who are writers. I can write, but that does not make me a writer. When I think of a writer I think of someone whose principal occupation is writing. By this criterion, I am not yet a writer, although I should hope that I could consider myself one someday. Dreams are not reality, but they can become it. For now, I am merely a student of writing.

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fishyI don’t know where it came from, or why it happened, but I’ve developed a strange affinity for my fish. I rescued my little red Beta from Waly-Mart last June (June 21, 2008 to be specific). He’s a fighting fish, and very vicious actually. That is him in the picture, and the size is about accurate.

He didn’t eat for the first week I had him. I would drop the little brown pellets into the water and he would completely ignore them. He had no interest in eating at all. I was terrified that I would look into his bowl and he would be floating, dead. I just wanted to take care of him, I didn’t want him to die! He was the first fish that I can ever remember owning and he HATED ME! Or was simply in the most complete state of indifference that a fish can experience.

I imagine that being underwater, he can’t hear very well (or at least takes it as an excuse to ignore me). So to let him know that I had dropped in his food, I would blow gently on the surface of the water. He would notice the ripples and speed to the surface to see what was going on. At that point he would see the food and chase after it. He used to spit it out a couple times before he would actually eat it. He has better manners now.

He’s the smartest fish I’ve every known. Not that I’ve known many fish or can ever remember owning any. Although I’m sure there was a goldfish that died when I was five or something like that. But this little fishy can recognize and remember patterns, and I’ve found that I can teach him stuff. I have taught him to eat off my finger and bite people so far. I think that I’ll teach him to jump next.

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My roommate actually reminded me that I’m a vegetarian the other day. It’s not like I forget things very easily. And it’s not exactly a new thing either; I’ve been a “vegetarian” for two years now. It’s such an ingrained habit that I no longer remember that most people consider my idea of normal food as slightly unusual.

I place “vegetarian” in quotes, because I’m not strict about it. I eat fish occasionally, which technically puts me in the category of pescatarian (a vegetarian who also eats fish). And I can remember at least twice in the past two years that I’ve eaten meat: my mom’s meatloaf and my boyfriend’s Thanksgiving turkey.

I used to say that I “try to maintain a plant-based diet.” People invariably responded by saying, “Oh, you’re a vegetarian!” I inwardly rolled my eyes as they verbalized the exact label I was trying to avoid, thinking about how I can simply agree with them and be done with it, or give them a detail explanation about how that is not perfectly accurate. I don’t ever bother to say that I’m a pescatarian, knowing that also begs for explanation. After two years, I think that I’ve given up, and accepted defeat. Whether I say it or not, I am apparently a “vegetarian.”

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