09 January 2007

Saved from The Smell

Fortunately, we're still in Georgia, so we missed the Giant New York Stink Bomb (courtesty of New Jersey). How many people heard the mayor say they have no idea what caused the stink but that they "know" it's perfectly safe, and noticed that the first half of the statement makes it quite clear that the second half of the statement is an outright lie? And how many people felt vaguely relieved anyway?

I've been tagged by Tokyo Knitter to do the 6 Weird Things About Me meme, and that's good since I still can't post any pictures. Although I totally agree with Tokyo Knitter that it's hard to come up with 6 weird things when you're this many years out of high school, and you're used to yourself, and you really don't give a damn what's weird. I asked Hubbster what's weird about me, and all he said was that I'm a "good kind of weird." I think in the eyes of most people, the very weirdest things about me are exactly the things that make me utterly normal in this blessed little world of knitting blogs: 1: I dream about yarn. 2: I get twitchy if I have to go for a long time without knitting (long time = 24 hours). 3: I think better with sticks and string in my hands than without. You get the idea.

But, with some effort, I've come up with 6 other things which may or may not be weird about me:

1. I can't do story problems. The kind they always include in math textbooks because they're supposed to be easier for the people who aren't naturally inclined toward numbers, because they're about practical, real-world problems. Though I consider myself anything but naturally inclined toward numbers and I'm usually a great problem-solver, it's mostly only in cases where the real world is very remote. Real-world situations confuse me. The more abstract the terms, the better I like 'em. I have never understood the concept of accrued interest and never will. Anything involving money makes my eyes glaze over and my brain go into power-save mode. But give me a lovely complex algebra or calculus problem, or a code to unravel, or an LSAT-style logic problem, or an argument to parse, and I'm happy as a clam. I'd rather scrub mold than balance a checkbook.

2. I won't do anything that I'm told to do. I pretty responsible if left to my own devices, and am almost always very conscientious when I know anyone else is depending on what I do, but when blatantly told to do something - even by someone I respect - this stubbornness gene I have kicks in and I. Just.Can't. Do. It. I will endlessly avoid doing things that I really want to do and enjoy and know are important for no better reason than resentment of someone for telling me to do it. I will read anything other than assigned readings, so my scholastic career has been a long acrobatic dance of trying to make what I read in order to avoid the real reading assignment something that may be useful anyway, so that when it comes up later as an assignment I'll have already read it "for fun" and can get away with "not doing the reading." I know it makes no sense. I can't help myself. The best way to deal with me, as my husband (but not my academic advisor) has discovered, is to casually discuss the good reasons why something should be done, and to have exciting, inspiring discussions about how much fun it will be or how good the results will be...and stop there. There must be no further reference to the task from that point on, and there must absolutely be no checking on whether it's getting done. In those circumstances and only those circumstances, I usually am very good at doing what needs to be done, although best of all is when I get around to realizing something needs to be done on my own in the first place (Hubbster will say here that that eventuality, alas, cannot always be relied upon.)

3. I have the world's smallest bladder. That's the only explanation I have, anyway, for why I have to pee every two seconds. I know - more information than you needed. Sorry.

4. I'm morally opposed to running. I'm not against running in the sense of running for your life from a mad dog, and I'm not opposed to other people running for any reason at all. But I am morally opposed to me having to run for any reason other than an immediate need to escape. I believe this may stem from middle school phys. ed. experiences: we had two teachers, one who weighed well over 300 pounds (and was under 5 ft tall) and the other who was anorexic. They used to make us run around the building the whole hour, almost every class period, because (I presume) they couldn't think of anything else to make us do. Even when I'm in good shape, running -- especially with no warm-up, as in this phys.ed. class -- is really not the best form of exercise for me. It causes lots and lots of pain and none of the high of real, healthy exercise no matter how much I ever did it. I'm just not built for it - it makes my lungs scream and my head pound right into migraine-land. Other forms of cardio exercise -- like stairmaster or rowing or biking machines that can be set to start slow and then go up and down in difficulty -- are great for me. But just running, steadily, for any length of time and any speed, makes my whole body protest that I'm doing something very, very wrong to it. Yet, many people who like to run (like those who can sing) seem not to understand that not everyone is like them, and I have often been forced to run in unhealthy ways, almost always by (of all people) phys. ed. instructors (the middle school ones were the worst, but they were only part of a long line). Never again.

5. Even though I make my living out of playing with words (one way or another) and consider myself very verbal, I'm terrible at the kind of word games that make you come up with a word - like Scrabble, descrambler puzzles, crosswords, etc. As soon as I start looking for a word - poof - it's gone, and my head fills with all the words that won't work. In Scrabble or descrambling puzzles, my mind will incessently make up words or find foreign words out of the available letters, but all the time in the world wouldn't lead me to the answer to the puzzle. It's like a black hole in my mind. But I'm really good at other kinds of games, like Balderdash, that ask you to find meanings or compose something with words. I'm great at the kind of game where you get people to guess a name by giving them verbal clues, where you can say anything except the words of the clue itself. But I can't come up with synonyms. I think, actually, the explanation is that my mind is good at differentiating between fine shades of meaning - which is essential to any academic in the humanities - but also makes it harder for me to think in terms of synonyms. By now, especially, I'm so thoroughly trained in choosing exactly the right word, or at teasing out every possible shade of meaning from a given word, that it's like my brain protests when I ask it to bundle similar words together. That probably doesn't make any sense, but that also probably means it qualifies as weird. Except among my fellow humanities academics, for whom it's perfectly normal, maybe??

6. My feelings for anything considered by others as "normal" range from utter indifference to snide disdain. That probably explains why this meme was so difficult to do. And why I think it says very good things about the knitting community that so many knitters are so weird they don't know they're weird (to judge by the similar feelings most people seem to have about this meme).

I'm not going to tag anyone specifically, even though that's what the meme "rules" say to do (see #2 above). But if you feel like doing the meme, consider yourself hereby tagged.

Back to work! (It's going well, and thanks so much for everyone's good wishes in the comments! Things continue to be lovely here, despite highly unstable weather, and thanks largely to the goodwill of my in-laws - yes, I'm very lucky!)

The pictures of knitting are piling up, so expect a photo extravaganza as soon as a get back to the Stinky City (a few more days yet...)


Anonymous said...

If you have to pee every 2 seconds does that mean your wrote this post in the bathroom?

Specs said...

Oh! I'm terrible at Scrabble, too! Sadly, TB loves to play and every once in a while I agree to participate. I'm always thoroughly trounced and shamed by his ability to pull seven letter words containing Q and X out of his mind.

Also, thanks for your comment about my grad school decision. Part of me does want to stay because I'm fairly "close to finishing" -- I mean, it's only four years, right? But I finally realized that I couldn't sentence myself to being miserable for four more years if I didn't have to. (That was a bolt of lightening. "Hang on. I don't have to be here!"

It is an odd thing we're training for. I went to grad school because I loved books, language, the way words worked, loved to read, and thought it would be pretty great to spend the rest of my life reading wonderful texts from a thousand years ago. Sadly, this is not at all what grad school is about and I can continue to love all of those things without getting a phd.

I can't think of a way to end this on a positive note. Uh, enjoy the rest of your vacation!

Anonymous said...

So good to hear from you!!!
I'm with you 100% on #2. I actually dig my heels into the ground/floor.

Carol said...

I'm right there with you on the word problems and bathroom. :O)
Ahhh, the sweet smell of peaches huh?

hyunjee said...

I'm with you on practically every one of those. The peeing. The word amnesia. And oh - the running. Thank god for yoga. Happy New Year!

=Tamar said...

Re: 32: At some point I realized that if "they" can make me not do something just by telling me to do it, they're _successfully_ controlling me like a two-year-old, and I refuse to let that happen. So I switched to treating whatever they say with utter contempt, making it not exist, and doing what I choose to do, regardless of what they tell me to do. If they get a tiny ego boost out of falsely thinking they affected my behavior, so what? It's not my job to remove their delusions.

It is true that people have told me they thought they were stubborn until they met me.

The Purloined Letter said...

How interesting to see that you and Specs and others who make their lives from words are also horrible at Scrabble, etc. And I too love other kinds of meaning-based games from Balderdash to Dictionary (with the guess-the-real-definition rules).

I wonder if this has something to do with how we learned to read. My husband, a phonics man, can beat the pants off me at crossword puzzles and the like--and spelling in general, for that matter. I wasn't taught to read but just started doing it, so I guess it is more about meaning than about word makeup? How about you?

Hope you'll submit something for the upcoming Yarnival!

Anonymous said...

I was a math major and find myself embarrassed often when I can't count, or something like that. I tell them most of my math involved symbols, not numbers! I can also related to the love doing it unless it's work and you have to thing. And the running - I like to walk (sort of). Mostly I like dancing, so that's what I do for exercise. And it looks like you're into language, and not words - two different levels. I think we academics (well, I was halfway through a Ph.D. program before I left to get a job) are inherently weird- we self-select to go towards academia.