Category Archives: Learning

On getting straight As

On getting straight As

It took me until my third degree to get straight As in any one semester or degree program.  Getting straight As has been my plight since I got straight Os in kindergarden.  The next closest I came was all As and B+ in 6th grade.  That damn B+ demotivated me until high school, when I tried again freshman year.  New school, new me.  New form of delusion.  I discovered a whole world of new books to read that were not listed on any syllabus whatsoever.  I learned a lot in high school, but probably only 30% of that knowledge was in the curriculum.  College was just a more adult repetition of high school.  Day dreams of being a revered honors student while I was drinking in my friend back yard the night before a final that I was sure I would ace.  3.02.  That was my undergrad GPA.  I flew outta there after 5 years vowing never to return to those dry business subjects.  My friend showed me the grad school business curriculum and I shrieked in horror at the sight of “economics 510” listed on the MBA required courses list.  It literally did sound like a hell until suddenly two years later I looked once more at the school website.  I was so exhausted by shit jobs that school once again sounded like an paradise.  School paradise is one where everyone sleeps when they are tired, except before midterms.  Work can be turned in incomplete and you are still allowed to continue attending the class.  You can even sleep in class and still be allowed to come back.  After working in an investment bank, that economics class suddenly sounded fascinating because I finally understood that language.  New degree, new me.  New level of understanding my limitations.  Turns out grad school is a lot of work crammed into a short span of time.  I graduated with a 3.35 and although I had gained a vast new view of the world, I still felt like an idiot because of all the information I encountered that I didn’t fully understand.  The next 5 years after grad school I spent in a constant state of epiphany.  I encountered more knowledge than I could remember, yet when I encountered forgotten concepts in the real world I knew what to do with it.  I just couldn’t remember it all back then during test time, but it was all in there somewhere, waiting to an anchor itself to a real world experience.

This after-learning bothered me.  If school should come in the beginning, then why do I learn so much more after all the testing is done?  My grades are in no way indicative of what I learned from getting a masters degree.  They only say how much I learned while in class.

Anyways.. I started dabbling in classes again once I plowed through all the non-fiction books for dummies at the library.  My grad school student loan made me stick to the inexpensive classes at the community college.  My attendance to on campus lectures induced anxiety which required that i stick to online only classes.  I figured out that as long as I turned in all the homework and follow assignment instructions, I got As.  The quality of the work was not being graded at this level (my art homework is evidence of this), just the fact that people made an effort to even do it got them an A.  Or perhaps, having already ascended through the graduated level, my work quality was already A level in community colleges.  AKA the bar is set low there.

How refreshing.  You mean I don’t have to care about oxford commas here?  Or group projects.  Or having to be somewhere on time awake and happy?  I can just learn what I learn without the stress of cramming in all the stuff I’m not so interested in but still get awesome grades?  How fun…

This carefree approach to picking interesting classes along with the higher salary from my graduate degree helped me to just enjoy the classes I took.  I was working full time so I started by taking once class a semester.  That was easy.  So then I took two.  Until I noticed I could squeeze in an eight week class because some 16 week classes really aren’t a lot of work every week.  Suddenly I was only four classes from an AA degree.  Because I already had a bachelor’s degree, I was just focusing on the specific subject I was interested in and wasn’t distracted by other subjects that, are interesting in themselves, but not what I was in the mood for soaking in.

So many things lead me to a situation where I finally got straight As.  So is my plight done? Mission accomplished?  Goal achieved?  no.  Getting straight As in online classes at the community college level after having already graduated at a master’s level is expected.  Is it an improvement and a positive sign that I am headed in the right direction? yes.

Figuring out what works for me has been huge in my understanding of what skills are important to work on, but it has also shown me what more I would need to do in future, more rigorous programs to keep my winning streak going.

 

Taming the Wild

Taming the Wild

I envision that in my old age, after all the major phases of life have passed, I’ll often ponder back on my old emotions. I’ll spend time remembering how long it took me to classify and name them all; how hard it was to tame them to the point that I can appear in public flawlessly, without incident. I’m sure by then they will sit in my mental tool box as neatly arranged packages, patiently waiting until I decide which ones I need to use for life’s now commonplace occurrences. I imagine that by then, they will know how to take their turn and so very few of them will take me by surprise. Even if I am by chance caught off guard, I will have already developed a technique for being caught off guard and so will not cause anyone alarm. Thus all this time I now spend starring endlessly at my ceiling, pondering what the hell just happened, will eventually be spent on more practical tasks. Though I am sure I will miss these ‘oh so wild states of fits and passion’ that so wrongly embarrass and haunt me, by then I will probably yearn to encounter new pieces of myself and wish that it all wasn’t so well organized….

-Singapore June 2012

On Advertising

On Advertising

Education.  Education is gold.  It is an elitist goal to achieve higher and higher levels of education.  Only through education is one able to discern the mechanisms at play in the world. Have you ever seen a TV commercial begging you to create a gmail account?  What about YouTube? no.  I don’t watch much TV, but I’ve seen it enough to not have seen these ads.  Why haven’t I seen any bus station propaganda signs for Amazon.  They might exist in Seattle, but not in Southern California.  Why?  Because they don’t need to advertise.  They don’t need a bigger fan base.  They don’t need to trick people into buying their products.  Their products’ reputations sell themselves.

So then how do we apply that logic to the rest of the products that require advertising?  In an off beat way.  Media is an advertisement in the same way that Disneyland is one big advertisement for animation/film productions which are a front for the real money maker of licensing.  They use entertainment to shine light on the 1% of the world that needs more attention.  It needs attention because it isn’t getting enough attention from the small groups of people who currently care about it.  Less educated and experienced people assume that what they see is the whole world.  Anyone is refuses to get on an airplane lack some serious sense.

They truly believe that the advertised and dramatized world is the WORLD.  They don’t realize that most of the world operates behind the scenes off camera.  Why is this a problem?  Well a ton of people still can’t get jobs.  People are taught to believe that wrinkled women are worth less.  Post menopausal women are not considered capable because no one is advertising on their behalf.  But men who want to be women make headline news. Keep in mind, that post menopausal women of the modern age are very much broke and in the very last years of their capable working years.  That time is very crucial for how they are going to pay for their elderly convalescents once their husbands die.  That is just one example of those who advertising has forgotten.

It all goes back to education.  Why can personal finance be a high school math class?  Why can’t home economics be a legit major?  Because there would be less dumb people to advertise and sell pointless shit to.  If people really knew how big the world is, it would be much more difficult for them to believe that the 40 hour work week is just the next best version of indentured servitude (which is better than slavery).  Society runs off the idea that the broke man can achieve something through hard work.  So society creates bogus “hard work” in the form of pointless meetings, lack of IT infrastructure, and a general belief that people need to put in “their time.”  If you make a point to education yourself by getting out in the world, you can see how it ticks.  You’ll see that all the advertising is just the needy yelling to divert your attention to the small part of the world that most people don’t actually care about.  Otherwise, they wouldn’t need to advertise.

On Overcoming Rivals

On Overcoming Rivals

I never thought of myself as a competitive person because I saw how much more competitive many others were than me.  I never cared to win much at sports or other “see who is best” events.  Maybe it was because the effects of losing didn’t last long or I’d just rather not dive to the ground just to keep a ball in the air.  Regardless, I did engaged in my own competitions from time to time, but they weren’t always so sportly structured.

Often my rivals were simply my friends in school.  We were all trying our best to get good grades and we were all in the same boat when it came to intelligence, so it was often a close call.  I only had to win by a few inches, not cram for a whole mile.

Other rivals were family members of a similar age vying for attention or adoration from the adults, which we were never actually starved for.

These competitions were constant throughout childhood.  As I got older and became aware of these behaviors, I realized that the scars I was accumulating and causing were not longer a result of healthy competition.  It was down right mean.

Though all of this I always thought of myself as a nice person.  I was at heart a people pleaser to the point where I put other people’s wants above my own.  But I wasn’t fully a nice person.  I inflicted social pain on others when they didn’t even know there was a competition.  I felt triumphant when I finally felt better than a specific person.

Then I looked back and realized that they were just being themselves, reacting to the world, looking for a friend.  Here I was jealous of their natural advantages, needing to prove myself when my friend just stood there defeated by my behavior.

Its been over 10 years since I had this realization.  I’ve since made new friends who were so beyond my own situation in life that I felt no need to compete.  We are simply not comparable because we play life in completely different arenas with completely different rules.  We can simply talk about life and try to understand each other without one-upping.

I still encounter my old rivals, often with compassion and guilt over having “beat” them when they were already too far down to fight.  Others, I just avoid, having never settled the score.

San Francisco

San Francisco

Jane sat leaning on her bedroom’s bay window soaking up the sun on her face while she pretended she was laying on the beach in her hometown. Even though this was the first day in a week that the sun had broken through the dense San Francisco fog, the air outside, helped by the whooshing wind, still sent an annoying chill down her neck whenever she got lazy about tying her scarf correctly.

“It’s always 50 degrees here,” was her latest mantra since it was the first thing that came to mind every time people asked how she was enjoying her freshman year of college.

“Getting into a lot of trouble, I bet!” was another common one. She would stare back blankly or shrug. It wasn’t that she wasn’t enjoying herself; it was that her usual sources of fun no longer existed and the new ones being experienced weren’t reliable old friends she could turn too to ward off her boredom or need for excitement. They were simply fun new experiences with no predictable reoccurrence in her daily routine.

There was plenty going on. Parties, drunken dorm room chats, drama between roommates, and all the usual college campus life experiences that she came there to check out. She had new friends who were getting themselves into all sorts of random situations, but she was still on the outside of it all. Simply going with the flow and wasn’t sure how to breakout of herself.

Her boyfriend wasn’t helping. Even though he was staying home for college they wanted to stay together and still felt connected in their distance relationship, his opinions held her back. She bought a CD off a street performer playing the cello and played it over the phone feeling certain that John would appreciate it but all he said was, “why would you buy a shitty CD off a street performer? I can download something just like it for free online.” She sighed, “I just thought it sounded pretty that’s all. Besides it was only $5.00.” She changed the subject, “Are you coming to visit this weekend? Is your brother’s friend still driving up?” He complained, “Ugh, it is such a long drive, it’ll take like 6 hours.”

He complained. “He was never a good traveller,” his mom explained to her once. “I don’t remember a single time that we drove to Las Vegas without him throwing up. We resorted to sleeping pills once he was old enough, but then he just felt groggy and cranking for hours after we got there.”

He made the drive and was dropped off at his brother’s apartment in Berkley. When she called to tell him which train to take into the city, he was reluctant to take the 45 minute train across the bay from “We’re having a good time here, why don’t you just come join us.” She took the train.

She arrived late after having gotten side tracked by some usual dorm drama and a long deserved nap. He met her at the train station with a big hug and beer ridden kiss and suddenly she felt better. “What’s wrong?” he asked. “Nothing, I just think I had a bad day, should be better now, I’m glad you’re here,” she replied with a deep breath and progressive smile. He took her hand and they slowly wandered to his brother’s place.

On shooting yourself in the foot

On shooting yourself in the foot

Yesterday I faced myself as a loser, today I’ve accepted that I’m actually not very smart.  When I go at my own pace and can sort through dilemmas and problems in my own logical order, I make good decisions.  Toss in time constraints and add some pressure and my decision making skills leave me flat on my ass.

The heat suddenly turned up and I started seeing a mirage.  The devil showed me an image of everything I ever wanted and by pointing myself toward his smoke and mirrors, I shot myself in the foot.

The devil is gone and with him went the perfectly good opportunity I tricked myself into not wanting.  So I sit here no further along in my search than when I started just more bored and pissed at my situation.

Yes there are things to do and ways to pass time and keep busy.  But after a few credentials I’ve realized that there is no golden ticket.  All my work has gotten me no where more than to a place where I still make bad decisions under pressure.

 

 

 

People who don’t like being told what to do

People who don’t like being told what to do

I have a never ending fondness for learning new and better ways of doing things.  It makes life continually fascinating to look back at what once made sense and think, “what was I thinking?”  I find it hilarious and entertaining.  Generally I accept advice for my problems positively if the advice really does solve a problem better.  Not everyone does.

I remember old friends pointing out, in a moment of complete frustration, that I am always telling them what to do.  I think there was a disconnect.  Obviously I didn’t always tell them what to do, but if I did it is because I notice that they are struggling with the output of some sort of task and they were constantly complaining that something wasn’t working right.  As a friend, I thought it natural to share a method that worked for me.

These individuals don’t see it that way.  They don’t see advice or opinion as friendly unless they directly asked for it.  Some have inferiority complexes where in they interpret the words “I know a better way” as “you are always doing everything wrong”.  This causes them to get defensive towards the good intention tossed their way.

Some, not all, dislike being “told what to do” so much that they will purposely not follow advice to their own detriment.  They value the liberty in their decision making above seeking the best methods of taking care of oneself.  It is a social disorder in the sense that they will eat unhealthy food because of who told them to eat healthy food instead.  There is no recourse to why they should eat healthy food in their brains.  Until they personally decide to make an effort to keep themselves healthy, they will not take any advice on the subject.  But once the decision is made, suddenly my advice is soaked up like a sponge.

Because of this strange internal switch, I find these people very difficult to be friends with, therefore I avoid them like the plague. This saves me the lecture because when I hear the words: “stop telling me what to do”, I really hear, “you’re a horrible friend.”

On feeling like I’ve done something wrong

On feeling like I’ve done something wrong

There are just so many rules in social life to follow… too many rules!  I know them all so well that I am aware of many many opportunities to to break them, but I don’t break them on the world stage.  Instead I break them in my mind.  I play out the entire scene for my own amusement and often detriment.  Generally the penalty for breaking social rules is embarrassment.  If perchance you happen to not get embarrassed then people go out of their way to explain why you should be embarrassed while giving you those looks meant to teach children to behave and conform.  Having broken many social rules, I am conditioned to be highly aware of rules, so aware that I automatically leave social gatherings with a feeling that I did something wrong.  It is an automatic response that typically lasts until I finish reviewing the event for validation of the feeling.  On a good day this feeling doesn’t bother me, but if I have been stressed, hungover, or not feel particularly well, my ability to deflect irrational thoughts decreases and I become unable to shake it off.  Dwelling in these irrational thoughts only makes me feel worse.  Awareness of what is going on helps but doesn’t fully cure my episode of despair.  All I can do is hope that my general sense of well-being returns to brighten my day.

On status anxiety

On status anxiety

The world is apparently flattening yet all over I still sense a need in people to cling to old forms of social class structures.  Top schools, top jobs, top companies, top designers, top top top top top.  Are we working for money or recognition?  If someone pays you a salary, you are working class.  If you live paycheck to pay check, regardless of income amount, you are broke.  If your net worth is negative, you are broke.

The standard of living gives people a false sense of social standing.  The ability to talk and act “up” also give a false sense of where they stand.  People aren’t competing against each other, people are competing against what others claim to have or be doing.  There is a big difference, especially if you encounter a habitual exaggerator who defines themselves by their dreams not by their actual accomplishments.  But anyway, why the need to compete after the contest is over?  After the good school, good work experience, good standard of living, etc.  At what point does the competitive drive just allow everyone to kick back and simply enjoy the fruits?

i guess I just want the competitive people to shut up.  It is the noise coming out of their mouth, infecting my ears that irritates me.  For some reason my brain finds meaning in it, fearful meaning.  Perhaps my sensitivity to words is just flaring up again.  The words hit at my insecurity about no being smart enough or good enough.  So whenever I hear the competitive chatter, it gets to me.  I don’t like being taunted, teased, or put down.  Words have meaning and I respect them.  Therefore I don’t use them aggressively unless I mean to, but that doesn’t mean I should expect everyone else to follow my same doctrine.

Harnessing my own insecurity would help.  If I accepted that I am perfectly fine and capable, then I could move on.  I could fill in the empty space were my old insecurity sat with something better that doesn’t listen for fearful confirmation.  I could replace it with confidence and the ability to not need to second guess myself.

On the known world

On the known world

I knowingly bought a ticket to the known world.  The place where all the pieces are planned and mapped out.  Where life doesn’t just happen to you.  Where most attempts to find vibrant life end with a mediocre thought of “at least I tried”.  But I bought the ticket anyway because it is a place where I knew I could sit back, feel normal, and make sense of what I’d been through.  Now that I’ve recuperated internally I’m looking out and I can’t help but struggle with my decision.  I look back and wonder what could have been done differently in all the wildness.  I guess the unrealized sense of a piece of life being over has now become fully realized.  In efforts to create a new plan it makes sense to look back and list out all the dislikes in order to make better decisions for the next round.  This time around, part of me didn’t realize it was over.  Part of me is ready to go, part of me wants to stay, and most of me can’t afford to leave.  All in all, it is good that I stepped on the train, because the known world is good for people who don’t know what to do next yet.