Reflections on Strange
I have a family again. When I came home today, I said hello to Ted, sitting on the ground so he could greet me. Ella chased me outside, running down her dog ramp, a toy in her mouth. We played a few rounds of fetch, I chased her, rubbed her belly, she chased me, I pet her, I followed her inside to give them a treat, as per custom.
She is only jealous when she isn’t cared for well. I should have known. She asks for my attention and I give it now, and she is happy. Dogs have the mental age of five, but Ella is smart. I think what a normal human five year old would do, and then I think about what I needed at five, and then I give. She likes her belly rubbed just like I loved having my back scratched. She falls asleep when I pet her like I did. She loves eye contact, in anything, and she gets angry otherwise. She likes to fall asleep with her paws on my chest, her feet butterflied over my hips, and her head on my chest. It feels like peace. Ted likes to cuddle, and give affection, and curl up over your legs so you feel safe. It’s nice.
It is so funny to think about how Ella communicates like me. Sometimes when I’m really sleepy and I no one is around and I want her to leave me alone, I instinctively growl. Now, I know that’s weird; that’s already established. But if I don’t want to be messed with and I make that known by the sounds I make, she gets it immediately. I feel like a mother dog, but I’m okay with it. Ella and Ted came to live with us when she was 12 weeks old, and he was 8 weeks old. They were breeder cast off dogs, and I know for a fact that they didn’t spend much time with their mothers .Ella just had a brother, and he had health problems as a puppy, although he was born only white. Ted had about 5 other poodle siblings. You can tell, if you pay attention to how they act.
I am trying out getting as much homework as I can completed during the day. It was nice today, because I had to do some chores and whatnot, and being able to take care of my own nonsense like laundry, dishes, dinner, etc. makes me very happy. I like being capable. I like cooking dinner in half an hour, and only cooking just enough for 2, in case my mom wants some (or for lunches). I like remembering to do laundry when there is enough that it makes sense to do about 2-3 loads at once. Same with dishes. It’s a sink-ful or bust.
Funny thing about dishes, I found a secret. I love to dance like an idiot, and I do so proudly. If I do that while I do dishes, I enjoy doing dishes. Miracle of freaking miracles.
Going back to school has been weird, because it’s been the strangest kind of awesome. My teachers are all awesome, and that really means something. I enjoy each of them for who they are, because they’re all delightfully weird in some way or another. My teachers are people, and I like that; it makes what we learn more interesting, because they care about it. Why should I care if they don’t? But they do, and because they value what they teach, it makes me look for the value in it too, even at times where I’m barely interested.
Today and yesterday were strange. In my Interdisciplinary Collaboration class, there are a bundle of characters that somehow are essentially variations on the same personality. We have about 10 people in that class, and it was uncanny and kind of awkward how well we meshed as a group. The flyer had basically no description, so we all just casually decided to take the class, and it’s weird, because regardless of our majors, we have many overlapping interests, like a 10-leafed Venn diagram. It’s awesome! But weird! But awesome and so awesome that it’s easy to be friends. But given it was only one class period, it still awkward. How can you explain extreme comfort with people you’ve just met in an academic setting? Hell, I don’t know! We’re gonna find out though. I still have basically no idea what some of the projects are gonna be, but I’m okay with it.
My dance teacher is awesome. We had a conversation Tuesday as I waited to catch a ride. She really loves life, and she’s had an impressive life thus far. We’re learning about different cultures, and I may even get to teach the Cueca; the national dance of Chile and the most stressed dance of my Traditional Dances of Chile and Latin America class I took on study abroad. I still have the music, and I remember about 90% of it. For the rest, I’m going to ask my friends. We all took the same silly class together, and acted like goobers. Half of the time you had to be the dude and lead in the dance, because there were roughly 2 dudes that decided to show up each week, of 6 dudes total, and 30ish total students. What can I say? Attendance is a gendered thing, I guess. When I walked into my dance classroom, it became very obvious very quickly that that class will eventually morph into a strange estrogen love fest, which I’m okay with. I kinda figured that would happen. But whatever! My classmates seem cool, and we get to learn how to dance in different styles once in a while by people in the Dance department, while learning about the history of dance in different cultures; she calls it “dance literacy”. I’m pretty excited.
My stats teacher is a baller. She is really nice, and I feel like I stand a really good shot at learning something, if I actually make an effort, due to the ways they’ve changed the course, starting this semester. I always wanted to learn stats genuinely, so maybe it’s a good thing I had to withdraw last semester. I’m going with it! I’m happy, because the online homework software we use is MUCH better, and the way it’s set up now is that we meet sometimes but do work on our own and reading, coming together to meet up. It’s called a “blended” or “hybrid” course. Holy hell, it’s a fabulous and obvious idea to do that with stats. I want to practice while I’m in class, I don’t want to look up definitions. I feel comfortable there, and we played “Would you rather” down the rows, asking each student a derpy question from her awesome deck of questions. What kind of teacher does that?? A baller, that’s who.
My other two psych professors are loveable, and I’m happy I don’t agree with everything they say. What good would that do? No, I appreciate what they’re saying, but I embellish with my own opinions. It’s the third day of the semester, so let’s just see what happens, yeah? I’m happy, because they’re nice. That can be a miracle to find. So, I’m going with it!
I had an advising appointment yesterday with an advisor in our Spanish Department who is genuinely a good person and makes me think that maybe adults aren’t such terrible people as a whole. She has the most beautiful personality, and she genuinely cares. It was weird, but awesome. Like, actually getting advising advice I can use in an immediate way? Wow. My Psychology Department Advisor is a fabulous person and she really knows her Department, but the Spanish Department Advisor is also working for several other departments, and she’s a lot like I want to be when I grow up: she is really knowledgeable about bits and pieces of everything, she’ll tell you when she doesn’t know and work to find out, and she’s portable. It’s a beautiful thing. I’ve never had phone call etiquette that is quite that easy, because I swear to God I could turn into her in about 2 years if I started now, in terms of the responsibilities she has for her job. She is a lovely person, and I enjoy her company, even as my advisor. She also wears classy jewelry that bring out the colors in her natural complexion, like I do. People who go with what they’ve got and make it look even more awesome, dang I like those people. She’s just an all-around champ.
Things just keep unfolding exactly as they should. I had a moment yesterday when I was thinking to myself, “Do I really want more friends?” I think that’s a valid question. I talk to strangers as much as I can get away with and enjoy them then and there, but as few people as I see on a regular basis, I really like having pockets of people spread out over time and space, along with the knowledge that I can simply make more friends if I need to. If you love people and are cool with differences, friends aren’t really hard to come by, folks. There aren’t really stipulations for me; if it makes and we should be friends, we will.
Funny thing is, I don’t often forget somebody I’ve loved very much, in whatever capacity. It’s strange, because I forget how much personal information I have absorbed and put on storage until I see a person who I remember a lot about. I can remember intense personal details and not names. Part of it is because I watch and memorize without thinking, so a lot of the time, I never knew people individually, they just did something cool and I remember their face. Ellen, for example. I met her name for the first time today. She took art with my sister in high school, and we had some good life chats, waiting in line. It’s so weird, but it’s really not. That’s the thing. If you think it’s weird, it will be, period. Nothing really fazes me anymore, and I like it that way. That isn’t to say that scary crap won’t happen to me; that’s a given. But a lot of scary crap already has, and homies, that is okay. I’m happy now. That’s what matters.
In my class today, we watched a video of a man with memory loss problems (he has maybe 10 seconds tops). Everyone else thought the video was sad, but I literally laughed a couple times (and then got some frosty glares; the haters), because he was so happy. He forgot nearly everything he said after his sentence was over, and even forgot the questions as he answered it, and he only was able to recognize his wife. He thought he had lived his entire life in the tiny room he was living in. He loved to play piano, and there were all these photos on the walls and mantel of the children and grandchildren he could never again remember. But to see the joy that he had when he hugged his wife, giddy, kissing her hands around almost refusing to let go, it made me happy enough that if I was home alone, I would have cried. It was so beautiful. Y’all can see illness if you want, but no one said life was perfect, regardless of your memory. The joy she gave him could make me weep.
I don’t know why we always make things so complicated. It can be terrible and beautiful both, you guys. I just can.
I like slowly easing myself into the semester. There are some changes I’m happy to attempt to make, like taking the same thing for lunch by the day of the week; I want a specific lunch for Monday, Tuesday, etc. First of all, I’m not picky. I hate monotony, but eating the same thing once a week is more common sense and useful than anything else. I can get in the pattern of making extra rice on Sunday nights, making sure I have some beans pre-soaked and cooked for a salad on Wednesday, that kind of thing. It makes me happy, because then I can just use it the day later or before. Why not? I don’t see why I would ever have to waste food if I do it right and learn HOW to cook, not WHAT to cook. Such a difference that makes.
In anything, I feel like I’m surrounded by a world of “What?” people. I’m a “How?” person. I don’t care why. Show me how. Teach me how you just did that. Demonstrate. I don’t need words. Slowly, just one more time. Got it. Is this right?? Excellent. Moving right along.
That is how I learn. Show me. It has always been that way. Demonstrate. I need to see the example. I need to see the structure, I need bullets, steps, outlines, answers about the hierarchy and order of things. I can take a “because it just is” answer, but never give me a “because I said so”. I will never listen to you again, unless you can recover that lost respect. I’m sorry, but that’s just the way it is. Prove it. I need to know how, and then we can talk why. But first, show me. Then, give me some time. I will provide my own why. We can cross reference each other, okay? Excellent. Moving along.
Same reason about getting people’s honest feedback and criticism. You’ve got a problem? Cool! This used to make me miserable, but I find it fascinating now. Please, tell me why you don’t like me. I think it’s kind of fun. Which is weird, right? I don’t think so. There’s good and bad with everything. I criticize enough to know that. I’m always surprised to hear when people don’t accept criticism, but yet, they complain constantly and are pretty miserable to be around. I’m sorry, but you are killing yourself and your joy slowly but surely. I’ll try to tell you that once or twice, even though it’s not my place. And then, I’ll let you do your thing, because you’ll probably lash out and be a total jerk in retaliation, because you can’t recognize the spirit in which it is done. I’m learning to calibrate my estimates of what other people can handle better, as I gain experience living. But apart from that, it’s just about effort and gathering enough time to do it right. And I don’t do it right. But I’m learning.
Does anyone else do that thing where you almost crave criticism? I do it at the wrong times sometimes, and I will be honest, sometimes it can be kind of a trap for the people that I love. But the need to get honesty in ways that aren’t really nice is just there. I want to know what I’m doing wrong. I want to be better. Now, that doesn’t mean you can just attack me and be a total jerk. I may just walk away. But if you tell me the truth and then give me time to mull on it, and then I stick it in my mental file folder, I will have time to inactively process whatever the hell you just said over the course of my lifespan. That sounds crazy. It’s not. I want that memory, and if it’s worth keeping, I’m keeping it.
Does anyone else get headaches, and feel it in specific places in their brain? I wonder why that is. I think it’s weird that I can feel my pulse and whatnot here and there, but a headache? What even causes a headache? Because right now, just thinking, I could tell you exactly where it hurts. For that reason, I’m looking forward to learning about Neuroscience and Psychology, mostly so I can memorize that the different parts of a brain are. I want to tell you exactly where I can feel the pain when I get a headache. I know where it is, but I don’t know the word for it. Let me find it in my head, and then I’ll find it on the chart. Sound good? Okay, great.
In my Interdisciplinary Collaboration class, the most haunting thing was one sentence than summarized how everyone felt about trying new things and just doing them, over time: “I’m allowed to do this?” The surprise that you, yes you (!) could do whatever you want, for no good reason other than you can. And you should! But holy crap, for people who crave to do fabulous things, whatever they are, that is the biggest game-changer. It’s not comfort level. It’s a sense of permission, and then becoming more comfortable and just doing it. What a freaking miracle. Other humans felt like that too.
I wonder if I continue down this uniqueness (read: weird) rabbit hole, how much I will be able to come up with. The metaphor my professor used in that same class yesterday about human being as mixtures of different hues of paint captures my imagination. I want to be a coral kind of pink. How much yellow is in that? If everyone has a unique kind of mixture, I bet type A people are like primary colors. I used to hate pink, but it is part of me. Figure that one out, lol. How much weird would a monster chuck if a monster chucking weird was actually a human being, being happy? A whole lot of weird, friends. A whole lot.
So many people today, whizzing by as I walked, like I was a river moving past banks of dry land; noises and colors and hues of outfits and a lot of different communications styles and strangenesses. I saw so many people I knew that I didn’t talk to many of them. Why? I let my eyes blur over and focused on the river. It was nice to be surrounding but such a living, breathing canvas. Strange, but pulsing in terms of breathing, breathe, the cold winter air, and wiggling so your toes didn’t freeze. Strange, but I like it. I wish I could paint that well.