The Five Stages of Being a Kidult

 

Less than a year ago, I turned 18.

It was strange. At 11:59 pm I was watching Disney’s Princess Protection Program and banging pots and pans together. Exactly one minute later, I had the legal right to vote for my nation’s leaders, to drive motor vehicles and to stay up past my bedtime.

It’s hard to believe that within a few moments I had escaped the pimply angst of adolescence and stumbled into the glamorous world of adulthood. Eagerly, I turned to the mirror to see if I’d been physically transformed in any way. Nope, I still looked the same – like a remarkably short 13-year old with a small, inconspicuous bald patch. I’d had that patch for so long I’d even given it a name. Harold.

To be honest, I even felt the same. I felt like a child. I wanted to go back to my pots and pans. I wanted to lick the icing off cupcakes and the cream off Oreos. I wanted to watch PG-13 movies with adult supervision.

But I was not a kid. And I was not an adult either. Somehow, I had found myself in that blurry no-man’s land in-between the two spheres. I had become a kidult.

And exactly three months later, they packed me off to university.

I found it all terribly unfair. For 18 years straight, I had been told to “Go to your room!”, “Eat your vegetables, young lady” and “Go to bed, now!” And all of a sudden, one fine day, I was being asked to live in a different country, to provide nourishment and sustenance for myself and Harold, and to go to bed whenever I felt like it.  I was horrified. How dare they give me the freedom to do whatever I wanted? Didn’t they know how young and dumb I was?

In the months I have been here, however, I have gradually had to come to terms with my hybrid identity as a Kidult. The process was by no means easy, and it happened in five distinct phases:

Phase 1: Denial

In the beginning, adulthood was a mere technicality. Technically, I was 18 years old, and therefore legally an adult. But this was merely an inconsequential detail. In my first month here, I pretended like nothing had changed. I’d constantly text my mother to ask her things like “It’s 11 pm. I should go to bed now, right?” Sometimes, I’d supply her with mundane details of my life, such as “I just poured some water into a glass and then drank it” and “I am going to floss.” For about two weeks, she pretended to be enthusiastic: “Yes! Stay hydrated, I’m proud of you!” or “Dental hygiene will serve you well later in life!” But as time passed, her attitude changed. First she started to respond with “K”. Then she started to seen-zone me. It felt like a bad break-up. Clearly, if I wanted Santa to bring me any presents this year, I had to grow up.

 Phase 2: Anger

Now that I’d made up my mind to be an adult, I had to act like one. What do Well-Adjusted Adults do? For one, they’re independent. They don’t rely on their parents; they take charge of their own lives. Clearly, I was not very good at this – not only did I text my mother so much that she started to consider a restraining order, I also Skyped my parents every single day. If I wanted to be a real adult, I’d have to wean myself off this destructive habit.

But I couldn’t. I kept trying to find excuses to Skype them.

“I should call; today is Dad’s half-birthday” or “A dormant volcano on the Lesser Sunda islands became active today; I should call to find out if my parents are okay”. Clearly, I was addicted – but good old Skype saved me. Somehow, it realized that I was slipping, so it compensated by freezing every 30 seconds. This meant that instead of talking to my parents, I spent most of my time making Adele proud by screaming “HELLO? HELLO?” at my laptop screen.  Skype made me so angry that I almost threw my laptop out of the window once, but luckily, I couldn’t open it. I took this as a sign: the problem was not Skype. It was me. Much like the Wi-Fi signal in my room, I was weak.

Phase 3: Bargaining

Another thing that independent adults seem to do well is money. But financial responsibility wasn’t really my thing. It took me a while to even register the fact that money has value – it is not a just a piece of paper with pictures and words on it. During our initial week on campus, they’d suggested that we download an app called “You Need a Budget”. My reaction to this was “Lol.”

It turns out that the joke was on me, because I later realized that I was not, in fact, Scrooge McDuck. I was not even a duck. I was an Adult, an Independent One at that, with Expenses.

Having realized this, I began to overcompensate. One of the toughest financial decisions I had to make was “Meal swipe or campus dirhams?” [Meal swipe: 30-unit swipes used to purchase campus meals; campus dirhams: university-specific currency, like Monopoly money, but real]. I needed to have enough campus dirhams to spend on toilet paper, but on the other hand, I also needed meal swipes, because I’m a compulsive hoarder and I liked knowing that I had 200 swipes left on my card at any point in time.

Ironically enough, my desire for financial optimization came at a cost. I’d spend so much time in the queue trying to bargain with myself that my food would often get cold. This made me sad.

Phase 4: Depression

All my efforts to become an independent adult fell through quickly the day I fell ill. It was just a mild cold, but to me, it felt like the plague. I lay in bed sniffling and patting my own head, because that’s what my mommy did when I was ill. I also tried to give myself a back massage, so in addition to suffering from the plague, I ended up mildly spraining my shoulder.

For the next three days, I was a sorry sight. I wanted hot chocolate without having to get out of bed, so I sat on a chocolate bar for a day. I wanted warmth, but the air conditioning in my room was stuck on minus 55 degrees Celsius. I wanted to sneeze, but there was no one to say “Bless you”, so I had to hold it in. And I wanted to be babied, but I was a grown-up.

Phase 5: Acceptance

Clearly, I had no choice. I had to accept the undeniable fact that I was a kidult. In an ultimate attempt to endorse this new identity, I decided to go wild and do the one thing that defines Adulthood: grocery-shopping. I am proud to announce that a few days ago, I went to the Convenience Store, and I bought my first vegetable. Then I called up my mother to inform her of my purchase. “What did you buy?” she asked me. I had no idea. I described it to her, and she scanned her Mother Portal for answers. As it turns out, I’d bought a rambutan. This was, apparently, a fruit. Darn it. My first vegetable was actually my first fruit. Never mind. It was a symbolic victory. I’d conquered my phobia of health, and I’d made a wise investment in my future.

But you know what the best part was?

When I looked into the mirror that day, I realized that I’d finally begun aging into Harold.

Originally published on The Gazelle.

 

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Why Suárez’s Biting That Guy Is Justified and Why All Of Us Should Do It Too

I don’t know too much about football and the World Cup. My expertise is mostly limited to shouting, “Kick, man, KICK!” at the television once in four years and making keen observations like “GOALLL!” whenever the opportunity presents itself.

Then suddenly, during a World Cup match some days ago, an Uruguayan player called Luis Suárez noticed the Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini and decided that he wanted to get himself some of that. So he bit him.

And then all hell broke loose. Suárez now faces a nine-match World Cup ban and a four-month football ban.

If you ask me, they’re being too tough on the guy.

Firstly, Suárez’s argument for why he bit Chiellini is both compelling and tough to contest – he says his intention was not to bite. “I lost my balance,” he says, “making my body unstable and falling on top of my opponent.” Basically, he just happened to fall teeth-first into Chiellini’s shoulder. Fair enough. Losing your balance is a valid argument – and common enough, judging by all the times Ronaldo has lost his balance when in close proximity of a member of the opposing team.

It’s obviously a coincidence that this has happened to Suárez twice before – apparently, he has very bad luck when it comes to accidentally tripping into delicious shoulders.

If Suárez’s own statement and his puppy-dog face aren’t proof enough for you critics out there, that’s okay. We’ll do it your way. Let’s say that Suárez really did intend to bite Chiellini and that he was yearning for a bit of Italian as a palate cleanser after his prior gustatory experience with Dutch and Serbian.

I still think we’re being too quick to judge Suárez’s actions.

In the world of Twilight and similar wild, exciting vampire romances, a 27-year old Uruguayan footballer can hardly be expected to not indulge in a little experimentation. Frenzied young girls everywhere swoon after brooding young men with pale skin, an aversion to sunlight and neck fetishes. Perhaps Suárez wanted change the dynamic of his fan-following. A younger, largely female support base might do wonders for Uruguayan football. Suárez’s intentions were good, surely – he was willing to take one for the team. What’s one little live televised mouthful when there’s victory at stake?

Or maybe I’m reading too much into this. Perhaps Suárez wasn’t trying to change the support base, and was simply trying to see what all this vampire nonsense is about anyway. It’s something I’ve often contemplated myself.

We could see this another way too. Sportspeople often clench their teeth (this is called bruxism) when stressed. Clenching the teeth stimulates the release of stress hormone cortisol which produces the ‘fight’ or ‘flight’ response – causing them to fight back or run away. Suárez was stressed by the imminent possibility of losing the match. So he clenched his teeth. And unfortunately, due to an untimely combination of fate and the tendency of footballers to entangle themselves in a mess of assorted body parts, the Italian’s shoulders happened to get trapped between Suárez’s jaws.

It was Chiellini’s fault, really.

But my best theory comes from the most experienced biters themselves (other than Suárez himself, of course) – babies. Babies bite constantly and intractably. Why? Apparently, the gums are more sensitive than the fingers. So when babies bite, and put things in their little mouths, it is a process of learning. It helps them discover their environment and (get this) helps them find out more about the object or person they bite. It’s how they learn.

So when Suárez bites footballers, he’s learning more about them.

This is quite revolutionary. Suárez has taken a toddler’s favourite activity and made it his own. I’ll bet that, with all his experience, he’s probably honed it into a skill by now. When he bit Chiellini, god knows what sorts of things he was finding about him – what his favourite food is, what he likes to do in his free time, his favourite colour.

No wonder all the Uruguayans (including the Uruguayan President) gave him a hero’s welcome when he returned home after the ban was issued. Those sneaky Uruguayans have been hiding an undiscovered genius. His unique skill could be, in fact, the evolutionary trait mankind has been waiting for. All we need is for everyone in the world to do what he does, and then maybe, just maybe, this skill could evolve into the homo sapiens’ sixth sense.

So go out, reader, and get biting! A friend, a neighbour, a homeless man, anyone!

Evolution is in your hands.

P.S. Thanks, Suárez. The others may not recognize your genius but as a thank you present I’ve sent some a delicious Indian your way!

We’re car-ried away by this cutting-edge technology

Recently, I’ve been reading the newspapers quite a lot.

I had stopped for a while because I found that everything in the papers was just depressing, and I’m not really the ‘let’s face the truth’ type. I’d rather sit inside a closed cardboard box and make vrooming noises than face whatever it is that’s happening in the outside world.

Spongebob
A little privacy, please?

But now that I’ve started reading the papers again, I’ve realized that I was wrong all along.

As it turns out, making vrooming noises is what’s happening in the outside world.

I read this article about gesture technology, which says that you can now operate your car using simple hand gestures rather than having to go through the tiresome task of pressing a button every time you want to switch on the air conditioning or lower the windows. From what I gather, the car will be equipped with some sort of gesture recognition system. I don’t know how it works, so I’ll assume it has to do with black magic.

So basically, you make the gesture and the computer recognizes the command, and then, well, you just sit back and wait to crash. Because it’s a scientifically proven fact (maybe) that any technology with the word ‘recognition’ in its name is destined for doom.

The New York Times reports that this new technology will make “driving safer and more enjoyable”. Either this is meant to be subtle sarcasm, or they’re being deliberately stupid (or extremely optimistic, in kinder words).

How can you possible think that a computer system that (allegedly) recognizes hand gestures can keep you from crashing into a hedge? When I bought my iPod, the writing on the instruction manual said that it had voice recognition. It didn’t. However, it did have the unique ability to carefully listen to what I said and then say something so diametrically different from what I just said that I began to doubt my own sanity. After all, how does “Play songs by Coldplay” sound even remotely like “Search the web for Guantanamo Bay”? And correct me if I’m wrong, but “Coldplay, damn you!” doesn’t sound like “Hello kung fu”. If it can’t handle voice recognition, how could it possible handle gesture recognition? I could make all sorts of gestures, but how would that stop me from running over a pedestrian if the computer system is attempting to change the radio station?

Also, I don’t know how the companies expect us to remember which gesture to use for each command. I don’t even remember how I was supposed to end this sentence. They can’t possible think that drivers will remember that the pinky on the right hand means brake and the index on the left means ‘turn the volume up on the radio’. The only way to solve this problem would be to include a ‘gesture’ section on the driving tests. A lot more people would fail the test, and then there would be fewer cars on the road…hey, now I understand the NYT’s logic. Fewer cars mean fewer accidents and “safer driving”. Hmm.

And what if you’re driving with a passenger? I don’t think the gesture technology can recognize different passengers. So there you go. Your three-year old at the back can accelerate with a nod of her head. And don’t get me started on quarrels over the radio station. All over the world, people in cars will be winking and nodding vigorously every time there’s something good on the radio. No wonder the aliens haven’t visited yet.

The radio problem brings me to another point. There you are, after a long day at work, nodding along to a nice, peppy song on the radio. And suddenly, the boot begins to open. You turn around sharply, and then the windows start to roll down. You take one hand off the steering wheel in shock, and the car screeches to a halt. You get out and walk home, alongside several other people whose cars attempted to mimic Transformers when Channel 4 played a nice song.

In fact, I’m quite surprised that governments would even allow this. You’re not allowed to speak on your cell phone while driving, but you’re allowed to play a single-player game of twister. I’m not an expert, but I think that doing complicated manoeuvres with your hands and feet every time you want to switch on the air-con is not very safe. And who knows, you’ll probably end up upside down in a ditch just because you decided to scratch an itch. Or sneeze. Or move your head slightly.

I’ll say one thing though – this technology will make newspaper reports about car accidents much funnier:
“Two people in the vicinity suffered minor injuries in a car accident yesterday. Primary police investigations blame pop diva Britney Spears’ Hit Me Baby One More Time for the unfortunate incident.”

How to make an environmentalist

This post reflects the opinions of the author and is not intended to hurt the sentiments of anyone who is related to W.H Davies/ enjoys bad poetry/ makes a profession out of getting offended easily.

Now that I’ve got your attention, I’ll begin.

Today’s post will be about nature. No particular reason. I was just running out of ideas so I looked around for inspiration and saw two things that caught my attention: 1. My feet and 2. Some nature. Luckily for you, I decided to write about the latter.

To be honest, I don’t know that much about nature. Well, I know that it’s important and stuff. I’ve studied about it in Environmental Science and I’ve learned that nature is important ’cause it has ecosystems. And biodiversity. And trees. I think trees are actually pretty cool.

In case you’re wondering, yes, I aced all the tests.

Alright, I’ll admit that I’m kidding. I didn’t ace the tests, and honestly, I’m an ardent environmentalist. Well, maybe not ardent. I don’t ride biodegradable unicycles or anything. But I recycle and I don’t litter. So I suppose that counts as novice environmentalism.

I was first introduced to the ingenious new concept of nature-loving by the poem ‘Leisure’ by W.H. Davies. I was quite intrigued when I first read it, at age eight. “No time to see, when woods we pass, Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass” – I was left wide-eyed by the genius of the rhyme. Pass and grass! What mortal could devise such rhythm, such tempo? And the idea bewitched me: not having enough time to watch the squirrels hide their nuts – that was the story of my life! I began to revere W.H. Davies like a god. I quoted Leisure in every single essay and every single story I ever wrote (whether or not the topic was evenly vaguely related to nature), starting from an essay about man’s inability to enjoy the beauty of nature and ending with an essay about Adolf Hitler’s policies in Germany. I think I managed to attribute all of World War II to Hitler’s inability to just sit back and watch ‘the squirrels hide their nuts in grass’.

And now I feel like an idiot, because I’ve realized that what I’ve been quoting all along is just absolute rubbish. No offence meant to W.H. Davies or kin.

The very first line of the poem is, ‘What is this life if, full of care, We have no time to stand and stare’. Oh my god. He wrote ‘stand and stare’. Stand and stare! Why would anyone in their right mind ‘stare’ at nature? The Oxford dictionary describes ‘stare’ as ‘look fixedly or vacantly at someone or something with one’s eyes wide open’. I really don’t think W.H. Davies meant to say that people should ‘look vacantly’ at nature. That’s actually entirely contradictory to what the poem is meant to say, i.e., that people should take more time to enjoy nature. Talk about the wrong choice of words.

I’ve been quoting grammatically inaccurate material for several years. That’s really bad for the reputation of a Grammar Nazi.

It gets worse. “No time to stand beneath the boughs, and stare as long as sheep or cows.” He used ‘stare’ again. And now he’s saying we should stare like farmyard animals do. He seems completely out of his mind, if you ask me. To be fair, it’s possible that his wi-fi was down when he was writing this poem, so he couldn’t Google for synonyms of ‘stare’ or words that rhyme with ‘boughs’.

I’ll admit that the rest of the poem was much more sensible than the shaky, somewhat repetitive beginning. But then he says, “No time to see, in broad daylight, Streams full of stars, like skies at night.” Stars in the day? It’s possible that there is a deep philosophical meaning hidden somewhere in there, but inexplicably, ‘ingestion-of-forbidden-substances’ is the only rational explanation that comes to mind.

Look at me, critiquing literature and all.

The reason for this rant is that I was recently reading essays by middle school children on the topic ‘nature’ and each one of them had quoted Leisure. Moreover, some had even gone so far as to paraphrase Davies with worrying results. “I love to stare at nature – I do it all day.” “It is important for man to take some time out of his busy day to stare at nature.” “Like the famous poet W.H. Davies says, man should stare at pigs and cows.”

It almost gives one the feeling that this is one of the tasks on Man’s daily checklist:
1. Go to work. Check.
2. Pick up the dry-cleaning. Check.
3. Stare at nature. Check.

Almost wants to make me become an anti-environmentalist.

And this is why I don’t like Leisure anymore. When I was younger I thought it was the epitome of poetic perfection, because it rhymed and everything. Now I think it’s preachy, grammatically incorrect, clichéd and overused. And that’s why schools that want to promote environmentalism should stop teaching children Leisure and should get them to read newspapers instead.

It’ll frighten them into becoming unicycle-riding environmentalists, I promise. 

Tales from the Library and Beyond

When I first started this blog, I laid down three ground rules for myself:

1. You do not talk about school.
2. You DO NOT talk about school.
3. You don’t destroy classic movies by paraphrasing illusory alter-egos in failed attempts to be humourous.

I set the first two rules because I didn’t want to return from school and then write about school. More importantly, I didn’t want to…wait. I’ve just read the sentence before last and now I’m wondering why ‘school’ is pronounced ‘skool’. I mean, if ‘Schneider’ is pronounced ‘shnai-der’, shouldn’t ‘school’ be pronounced ‘shool’? Hmm.

Anyway, I didn’t want to bore my loyal readers fans with tales about school. Well, yes, school’s fun and all, but why would you want to know what X said about Y? Or why T is angry with P? Or even why all the kids at my school seem to be named after consonants?

But then, I realized that if I chose not to write about the place where I spend half my day, then the only thing left to write about would be my glasses and my mother. Which explains why they’ve been featured so heavily in some of my recent posts.

Thus I’ve decided to break my rules.

To be fair, I broke the third rule within the first three sentences of this post itself. So I thought, ‘Oh, what the heck! Might as well break the other two…’

Total anarchy, that’s how I roll. I may have forgotten to mention this, but I am something of a rebel. For instance, you may have noticed that I’m quite liberal in my usage of the Oxford Comma.

So from now on, some of my posts will focus on some new fodder: school. One could argue that school’s nowhere near as interesting as my mother and my glasses, but I suppose I’ll have to take that risk.

So be prepared to read about tales of merciless bullying – the head-down-the-toilet kind of thing. Horror stories of vicious teenagers like me vandalizing school property and driving teachers to the edge of insanity, and sometimes over it. True stories from that dark, dark world that they call ‘school’.

Don’t set your hopes too high, because I’m kidding.

You’ll be lucky to hear my pathetic nerdy tales about test-taking and particularly difficult homework assignments. The closest I’ve come to bullying is politely asking a friend to move her chair off my foot. I once vandalized a desk by drawing a tiny star on it in pencil and then erasing it quickly before anyone noticed.

My school series begins with a true story, set in my school library.

(Cue cries of amazement and wonder).

‘Oooh.’ ‘Aaah.’

I was walking around the library looking quite gormless (that’s my permanent facial expression), in one of the breaks. Having read most of the picture books, I casually sauntered towards the Senior Fiction shelves.

I did not foresee the consequences of that simple act, but how I wish I did. The ensuing roar travelled across the entire length of the library:
“Who was that child who just walked into the Senior Fiction section?!”

Horrified, I looked around. I was the only one in that section. Was the librarian talking about me? But she said ‘child’! She couldn’t possibly mean me.

Nevertheless, I peered out from behind the shelves cautiously and watched the librarian storming towards me. So she did mean me! I hurried out.

“You aren’t allowed in that section!” She screeched. “It’s for teenagers only!”

Now people constantly underestimate my age because I’m short and well, look young, but I’d never experienced anything quite like this before. I told her that I was a teenager, and therefore old enough. She insisted that I wasn’t. Nothing could convince her. The rest of my classmates sat around and sniggered while I did everything to convince her short of asking her to call and ask my mother about my age (which may actually be a bit counter-productive, to be honest). Two seniors who felt sorry for me tried to come to my rescue. This just made her more convinced that the seniors were in on some malicious plot I had conceived in order to enter the forbidden Senior Fiction section. Finally, when she decided to believe me and let me off with a warning (yeah, I don’t get it either) I was too shaken to actually go back to the Senior Fiction section. So I sat in the kindergarten chairs and read The Big Hungry Caterpillar to calm my fragile nerves.

And this brings me to two things.

The first is the humiliation of being short enough to be mistaken for a ‘child’. More on this on another day (Read technophile9’s post on being short here).

The second is the appalling fact that children are not allowed into the Senior Fiction section. Judging by the librarian’s reaction, one would think that the Senior Fiction section was over-run by skimpily-dressed men and women just waiting to corrupt young, innocent minds with radical books like Fyodor Dostoevsky’s ‘The (insert the I-word here)’ (Children read this blog, too, you know).

Or maybe the librarians are just worried that us short people will try to pick out a book from the top shelf and then drop it on our heads. No librarian wants to deal with a concussion. Trying to not yell too loudly at the annoying children is difficult enough. Impossible, even.

So there you go. I’m not allowed to read Senior Fiction. I can’t read Junior Fiction (in public, at least). And now, I don’t think I’ll be reading much of anything.

Because after this post, I’ll probably be banned from the school library for life.

Ali Baba had it easy – the only password he needed was ‘Open Sesame’

I had a major scare this week when I realized that I’d run out of things to be annoyed about. And when I run out of things to be annoyed about, I run out of things to complain about. And that means – no more fuel for posts!

Luckily, I remembered that I had created a list of things that annoy me as back up, just in case I ever reach that stage where I actually become a more agreeable person (I never thought that day would come). And as I double-clicked on the document (subtly named ‘Stuff that Annoys Me’), I realized that it was password-protected.

Now, I cannot even begin to imagine why I would password-protect a document about “annoying stuff”. I made this list six months ago (I was just a child then), and I really don’t know what I was thinking. Perhaps I was afraid that this list would become public and then annoying people would use it against me. But it’s more likely that I just did it to feel important. I do lots of things just to feel important.

Whatever the reason, I now had to recall the password that I used to protect an insignificant little document several months ago. And I couldn’t, for the life of me, remember what it was. I hadn’t the slightest clue. All I could do was guess. So I did. I typed in the usual suspects – my most common passwords. Of course, they didn’t work. My mother came in for some helpful input – “It must be ‘chocolate’,” she said. For reasons I cannot fathom, she has this long-held, unshakeable belief that all my passwords are ‘chocolate’. And soon enough, this was a fun family activity: “Try ‘document’!” “It must be ‘humptydumpty’, no spaces!” “I’m telling you, I’m sure it’s ‘12345thisismypassword’!”
“Cabbage!”
“Hitler!”
“Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!”

At some point I gave up, because I realized that I really didn’t need to open the document. I’d already found something new to be annoyed about. No, not family (although you’re pretty close). It’s passwords.  

Passwords are those frustrating little keys that can let you unlock any door in the world. The only difference is that keys are actual, material things, whereas passwords are simply these mysterious character formations that float around silently in the darkest recesses of your memory, disappearing at will every time you see the word ‘login’.  

I have passwords to five different websites. That’s not much, I know. But those are the most important ones – the ones I can’t afford to forget. And yet, I simply cannot remember which password goes with which login ID. Every time I access one of these websites I have to put in every single combination of password and login ID – that’s 25 different combinations, if my mathematics serves me correctly (which it doesn’t, most of the time). It takes me an eternity to actually log in to WordPress – longer than it takes me to write a post. In fact, I spend most of my day struggling to do what is essentially a make-it-or-break-it game of ‘match the following’.

What’s worse is those websites that need you to have a password with more than eight characters, alphabets, numbers, non-numeric and non-alphabetic characters, letters in caps, letters not in caps, letters in sombreros, the secret of life, the universe and everything etc. You get something that ends up looking like oaiwh01HU;&. How in the world are you supposed to remember a password like that? My mother’s way is to note all these passwords in a little book she bought solely for this. This, however, seems to defeat the entire purpose. What if someone just took the book? They’d have access to all the passwords, wouldn’t they? It’s like keeping your house-keys on the Welcome mat on your doorstep.

To solve this problem, I decided to create a structure for my passwords. It would start with my first name, then my year of birth, and then an emoticon chosen at random. That plan didn’t really work because I kept forgetting which emoticon I used for each website. I had to spend a wasteful amount of time wondering whether I used the annoyed face (:/) for WordPress or for Facebook.

Then I decided that I would use a variation of my mother’s idea. I would write all my passwords down in a book, but in Caeser Shift cipher code. I put the plan into action immediately. I initially failed to recognize the flaw, however – the amount of time it takes me to actually convert he password from the code to the original form. Now, majority of my day was filled with thoughts on the lines of ‘Does A become X? Or is that B?’ This, combined with algebra, resulted in some very unfortunate consequences indeed.

And now, however, I’ve hit upon the perfect idea. I’ve saved all my passwords in a Word document, and I’ve password-protected that, so that now there’s only one password that I need to remember. And what is that password?

I shan’t tell you, but I’ll give you a hint:
As long as I have the helpful input of my mother, I’ll never forget it.

P.S. If you’re a hacker, please ignore the sentence above. 

Don’t ask me. I’m done with all this existing.

I’m doing a philosophy class.

You may have the imagination of J.K. Rowling and Lewis Carroll combined, but honestly, you cannot even begin to imagine the horror. My brother’s hasn’t stopped laughing since I told him. It’s getting a bit scary now.

Anyway, the reason for this is that I am probably what you’d call the least philosophical person on earth. The closest I’ve ever come to philosophy is asking rhetorical questions.
I’m not even sure about how to pronounce ‘philosophical’ (‘phil-O-sophical’ or ‘philo-SOPH-ical’?).

Now that I’ve stated the premise, you’re probably expecting a ‘but’ here:
BUT it turns out I wasn’t that bad after all or
BUT I was so exceptional at philosophy that I could give Socrates a run for his money or
BUT everyone takes rhetorical questions seriously in Philosophy class, so I wasn’t as hopeless as everyone expected.

Nope, that’s not happening.

I’m even worse than I thought I would be, if that’s possible.

It’s fine in the beginning, when everyone’s talking about ordinary things like reasoning and logic and other things I mostly understand. But two minutes later I’m sitting in some sort of ‘Inception’ meets ‘The Matrix’ wonderland, and there’s a little bit of drool gathering at the corner of my lips.

I don’t even know what’s hit me (Okay, I do know – it’s usually a friend smacking my wrist and asking me to stop drooling). But seriously, I have no idea how the conversation goes from a discussion about logic to a discussion about…erm, things. I can’t even tell you what ‘things’, because the ‘things’ are so abstract, it’s like, I don’t know – concepts and stuff. And then there’s all of these principle type thingy-s.

Yes, um, I don’t think this is making for a very effective post.

In my defence though, it’s hard. Really hard. I know that quantifying philosophy as ‘hard’ is inherently against all the principles of philosophy, but then again, I’m not very good at it, remember? I’m trying to make myself feel better by telling myself that people are either philosophical or they’re not, and if I’m the latter, there’s nothing I can do about it. But philosophy itself says that ‘everything is possible’, so being my usual pedantic self, I have to technically be able to do something about it. And I can’t. Which drives me crazy. Well, okay, crazier.

The problem is that I just don’t get the questions. ‘Why do we exist? What purpose do we serve as human beings? What is ‘real’? Is ‘reality’ all just an illusion?’ If it were up to me, the answers to all these questions would be, ‘It’s just…you know, like…so yeah’. You can imagine what happens when the teacher calls on me:
“What do I mean by ‘existentialism’?”
“It’s just like…existing, you know. Something that’s there.” (Pointing vigorously at the ground to fully clarify the meaning of the word ‘there’).
“Yes, but what is ‘existentialism’ in philosophy?”
“Oh, everything. Everything is existentialism. Because you know, philosophy exists.”
“What’s the matter with you?!”
“Um…is that question counted for my grade?”

My verbal answers are terrible and written assignments are much, much worse. I think I’m slowly driving my teacher to the brink of early retirement. When I begin each sentence in a philosophy written assignment, I have absolutely no idea how it’s going to end. I just fumble my way through a dark metaphorical forest of words, picking up random, vaguely philosoph-ish sounding words and adding a few prepositions at strategic intervals. In the end I’m left with some garbled nonsense suspiciously similar to ‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves; Did gyre and gimble in the wabe.’ Following is a 100% real excerpt from my first written assignment (tell me if you can figure out what it was about. I haven’t a clue, but I’m guessing – and hoping – that it’s something related to the existence of God):

“Is knowledge connected to belief? Some people believe in the existence of God while many do not. So which of these two groups have true knowledge about God? Moreover, can everything we know be considered the truth? For example, nobody knows the truth behind the concept of God. However, people who do believe in God consider their belief to be the truth and vice versa. So each group knows things differently, but can both groups be correct? No. This means that one group must be wrong.”

Notice how I begin with asking the reader questions that I never end up answering, and then proceed to carefully scrutinize the statement that ‘both groups cannot be correct’, thus arriving at the prudent, nuanced conclusion of “this means that one group must be wrong”.

For the sake of my philosophy grade (and my philosophy teacher’s sanity) I seriously hope that there is a god.

So, I’ll end with some advice for all my fellow non-philosophers out there who cannot distinguish between a philosophy and a rhetorical question:

If anyone asks, you don’t exist.