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.

Advertisements

All I wanted was to be rich and famous.

What is the toughest question you’ve ever been asked?

For me, “Fries – large or medium?” and “Are you out of your mind?” are top contenders. But they aren’t the toughest questions I’ve ever been asked – not by a long shot.

No, the undoubted winner is “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

I like to call this question the ‘How It All Began’ question. I’ll explain.

Imagine this: You’re three years old and your parents have guests over. You’re busy playing with your ‘Barney-the-dinosaur’ soft toy. All of a sudden, there’s a lull in the conversation. Nobody knows what to say, so all eyes slowly turn towards you. You’re too young and innocent to know that you are the next victim. “Aww, what a sweet child,” one lady croons. She looks straight at you and asks, “So, what do you want to be when you grow up?” You’re taken aback. Grow up? That’s the first time you’re hearing about this. What does it mean – to grow up? And you have to be something? But why? You start squirming. You look at your parents hopefully. But they’re no help – they’re just beaming down at you, as is a whole group of adults. Suddenly one of them comes to a rescue. “Isn’t that a dinosaur you’re playing with? So, are we looking at an aspiring palaeontologist, then?” The adults laugh. ‘Laughing is good,’ you think, so you nod along. You’re only three, and you already want to be something that you cannot pronounce. Thus the scene is set for disappointment, self-realization and a life reconciled to procrastination.    

Just saying.

I really don’t understand why adults would ask unsuspecting little children this question. According to me, it’s one of three reasons:
1. They are genuinely interested. This seems unlikely.
2. They have suppressed memories of adults asking them the same question when they were little, so they are trying to heal themselves by re-enacting the trauma.
3. They want to point and laugh at little children’s dreams because their own childhood dreams were hopelessly crushed and they ended up being accountants. “Oh, so you want to become a ballerina, do you? (snorting) Good luck with that!”  

After lengthy observation (not really), I’ve noticed that there are six phases of childhood and each one boasts of a different answer to this question.

Phase 1 (ages 3-5 years): ‘My own little bubble’
You want to become one of the things in the pictures on the walls of your kindergarten class. A doctor. A painter. Dora the explorer.

Me, I went one step further in this phase. I told everyone that I wanted to be the President of the United States of America. That’s slightly strange, because I’m not even American.

Phase 2 (ages 6-7 years):  ‘Disillusioned: The bubble pops’
By now, you’re completely disillusioned with life. Your mother’s just told you that you can’t get a monkey, so you can’t be Dora the Explorer. And she scolded you for using up all the Band-Aids in your preparation to be a doctor. That’s when you think, ‘To heck with it! I don’t want to be an explorer, a doctor, or a painter.’
So you decide to be a bird.
Or an anteater, in my case. 

Phase 3 (ages 8-10 years): ‘I like the sound of that’
You’ve found that ants don’t taste very good. And you had to get six stiches on your knee when you tried to fly.
But now that you’re eight years old, you’ve heard about a whole range of occupations – and some of them sound really cool. Maybe you decide to be a scientist. Or a fire-fighter. Or a professional football player. Or a feminist. Or an ice-cream man. Sorry… an ice-cream person.

Phase 4 (ages 11-12 years): ‘It’s all about the money, money, money’
You know, scientist, fire-fighter and ice-cream man all seem like really hard jobs. You’d much rather just be rich and famous. No stress, no fuss. Just money. And a big house. Like Paris Hilton. Or Iron Man.

Phase 5 (ages 13-14 years): ‘Can I have a degree with that?’
Okay, your parents are saying that you need to get a degree. You’ve checked and there’s no such thing as a ‘rich-and-famous’ degree. You’re going to have to do something. But it has to be something fun, and interesting. Something you really love. A performing arts degree, maybe. Or a creative writing degree.

Phase 6 (age 15 years): ‘All roads lead to a professional degree’
Yup, it’s settled. Accountancy it is.

So that’s it. You started out with Dora and ended up as a character from Dilbert. Something went wrong along the way, and I think that it’s all because of this pesky question. It just sets the bar too high.

So I’ve devised an ingenious solution. I would be grateful if you could pass my message to as many three-years olds as you possibly can:

Three-years olds of the world: You know when adults ask you “What do you want to be when you grow up?”
You should say, “An adult”.
It can only get better from there.

It’s the award season!

And the awards go to [drumroll, please]…Mushroom Sup, for Funny for Nothing!
[Audience starts clapping]
Mushroom Sup: Wow, oh wow…I feel humbled. This is absolutely amazing. I can’t believe it! I never thought that I would win this….
[Removes list from pocket and unrolls it]
Mushroom Sup: I would like to start by thanking my…
[Music starts playing]
Mushroom Sup: What? But I haven’t even begun to thank….
[Music gets louder]
Mushroom Sup: Wait! Stop the music! I have to…
[Security arrives and drags Mushroom Sup off the stage]
Mushroom Sup: This is a conspiracy! Curse you, Meryl! _____________________________

Okay, since (an envious) Meryl Streep has obviously paid the Oscars to stop my ‘Thank you speech’ mid-way, I’m going to have to be content with delivering it here.
And since this is my own blog, nobody can stop me.
In your face, Meryl.

So, I would like to begin by thanking My Nutty Dubai for so kindly nominating me for the Versatile Blogger Award, the Most Creative Blogger Award, the Reader Appreciation Award and the Semper Fidelis. I have no idea what ‘Semper Fidelis’ means, but I’ll accept it without protest because it’ll sound cool if I use it in an argument (“You’re wrong!” “I can’t be wrong because I’ve won a Semper Fidelis award and you haven’t! Ha!”).

Anyway, I urge you to read My Nutty Dubai’s blog. She writes beautifully, and she’s got some awesome photographs.

The second person I would like to thank is Gabbi at Veggie Girl Life. She’s nominated me for ze Liebster Avard. Leibster is a German word which means, apparently, ‘dearest, sweetest, kindest, nicest, beloved, lovely, kind, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing, welcome, and sweetheart’. Gabbi is liebster. Go read her blog. It’s amazing.

Okay, so let’s get down to business. I don’t think there are any set rules for the Versatile Blogger Award, the Most Creative Blogger Award, the Reader Appreciation Award and the Semper Fidelis, so I’ll just nominate eleven bloggers for these awards (I’m nominating the same bloggers for the Leibster Award too, so congratulations to the nominees! You now have five new awards!)

Here are my nominees for the awards:

1. Confessions of a Technophile

2. One Tired Guy’s Thoughts

3. The mmmmm family

4. Jennswondering

5. Not pretending (to be sane)

6. One post

7. Happy misadventures

8. Me in stitches

9. Soulsez

10. It’s a Mis-Fit

11. runningawayfrom49

For the Liebster award, I have to list eleven random facts about myself, answer the eleven questions Gabbi has asked her nominees, and list eleven questions for my nominees to answer.

Eleven random facts about me:

1. When I laugh, I laugh silently, so it seems as if I can’t breathe and I’m gasping for air. People ask if I’m alright. I laugh even harder. It’s a vicious cycle. Also, I laugh at the most inappropriate times. Everything becomes funnier when you’re not allowed to laugh.

2. My favourite quote is “Only two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity, but I’m not so sure about the universe.” – Albert Einstein.

3. I have a terrible habit of chewing everything within reach. My hair, my pen, my toenails. The last one is a joke. Sorry if that scared you.
I’m not weird. Honestly.

4. Nobody ever laughs at my jokes. Well, maybe my mother does. Sometimes. Occasionally.

5. I’ve been told I nod too much. I blame all those years of watching Noddy.
I just realized that I was nodding to myself as I typed that out.
I’m doing it again.
Urgh!

6. Once again, I have a history essay due, and I’m writing this post instead. It seems I’m falling into a pattern.
P.S. This one’s about Stalin. I know a little more about him than I knew about Nikita Khrushchev, though. I know for a fact that Stalin wasn’t a woman.

7. I eat tic-tacs when I’m bored. Orange is the best [sic].

8. I don’t know what ‘sic’ means, but I like the fact that it’s a word with an attitude, so I use it whenever I can.

9. My favourite French phrase is ‘Je n’ai sais quoi’. It’s…I don’t know what. Literally. (If you don’t get it, Google it.)

10. I have a terrible spatial ability, and I can’t judge distances. I often walk into walls.

11. I have a terrible memory, but I can memorize text very well. I think there’s some sort of psychological explanation for this, but I don’t remember what it is.

Now I’ll answer Gabbi’s questions:

1. What is your life philosophy? Be normal, and the crowd will accept you. Be deranged, and they will make you their leader.

2. What is the first thing you do when you get up in the morning? I stumble around blindly looking for a newspaper. Or rather, a tabloid.

3. Who is your favorite artist? I’m not big on art, but because of the Bean movie, I really like Whistler’s Mother. So I guess Whistler would be my favourite artist.

4. Other than you, who do you love the most? My spammers.

5. If you could change one thing in the world, what would that be? I would make dark chocolate grow on trees.

6. What keeps you motivated? On WordPress? Again, my spammers.

7. What is your favorite book or work of art? My Family and Other Animals, by Gerald Durrell.

8. Why do you write? Because there’s nothing I like doing better.

9. What is your favorite food? Chocolate and spaghetti. But not together.

10. What dreams do you have/are you working on? I want to learn how to whistle. Not exactly a dream, but an aspiration.

11. What is your favorite place to be? At my computer, writing this blog.

And these are my questions to my nominees (Don’t worry; you’re not obliged to answer them):

1. If you had to think of another name for your blog, what would it be?

2. What’s your favourite quote/ saying?

3. What’s the worst joke you’ve made/ heard?

4. What’s your favourite television show?

5. Describe yourself in one word.

6. Do you have an object that you consider to be your lucky charm?

7. Which type of chocolate is best: white, milk or dark?

8. What’s the best non-fiction book you’ve read?

9. What’s your favourite word?

10. Are you philosophical person?

11. What’s the capital of Greenland?