28 September 2011

My Philosophy Class

brought to you in two snapshots.

Part I: The Letter φ, Brought to You in IPA
Student 1 - *asks a question in reference to the letter "φ"; pronounces it φi.
Professor - *after answering the question* And, you're right, it should be pronounced φi, but most philosophers say φei, so we'll say φei.Student 2 - Or you could say φɔ.
Professor - Well, you don't want to say φɔ, 'cause that's the noodles.
Student 3 - Actually, that's φʌ.
Student 4 - No, it's φi.
Part II: The Use-Mention Distinction.

(I'm not entirely sure who exactly she is referring to here, but clearly it's a child she is very close to/related to.)
Professor - When Makayla was little, she used to say: "Brother said 'Damn'".  That gave her permission to curse, because she wasn't using it, she was mentioning it.  Of course, I didn't care, because after you take Philosophy of Language, these things stop mattering. Now, her father - he's gay, and he's very conservative. So he really cares about these things, which I don't understand. You take her to all these red dress parties and then... nevermind.

This is why I love my philosophy class.

07 September 2011

Did You Secure the Skis?

My personality and working style requires a lot of specific feedback. The worst thing is when I say something, and I get no response or a response that's brief or dismissive. Even if it's not meant in such a way, it makes me fear that what I said was out-of-place or inappropriate. For example, one of the shift managers at Jamba Juice, where I got a job, is incredibly subtle. She's very nice, super friendly, and way supportive, but, frequently, she makes me nervous. I can't read her emotions at all, and her responses to any questions I have are brief, quiet, and frequently made of shrugs, nods, and hums, not actual statements.

My mom has a similar way of communicating anything other than anger. So, when I feel dismissed by her behavior, whenever we run into a communication road-block, she blames it on my mental health. In some ways, she is right. It's probably my social anxiety that makes me nervous about making sure I understand a response, and my autistic tendencies that make me awful at reading non-verbal ques. But, when, after a fight, my mother tells me "Did you make an appointment with your psychologist yet?", I can't help but feel insulted. Instead of taking me seriously, she dismisses me and blames me for all our trouble.

In reality, my mom is a terrible listener, and I bet a lot of my communication difficulties actually come from being brought up by her. My sister and I often reflect on an incident that perfectly illustrates where I come from.

04 September 2011

I Must Be Getting Old

Picture this. I'm at the airport, picking up my grandma, and things aren't going as smoothly as I wish, so I call my mom to complain. Do you see it? There I am, sitting in my car, talking on the phone, flailing my hands around in dramatic gestures of frustration.

And a child walks by. She must have been about nine or ten, and she was walking behind the mom, pushing her cart, passing in front of my car. She looks at me and then...

Flails her arms around. Like I was just doing, she teases me.

So I smile. and she smiles back, kindly.

I must be getting old.