Of course the beginning of the semester has not waited for me to announce it- the first week is already over. It is going to be a good, intense, learning-filled semester. I have a bit more going on this time around than I did last semester, and I suspect that every semester that comes around will be a little busier than the last. I don't mind being busy- in fact I typically like it- it is just a matter of getting back into the swing of things.
So this time around I am taking ethnographic methods- to learn and practice the methodology I will be using for the rest of my career (assuming I am successful at it!). I am delving into some archaeological theory to fill my archaeology course requirement and boost my general knowledge in the subfield to prepare for my MA exam. And I am in a seminar in psychological anthropology focusing on inequality and violence (though the first of that class hasn't been held yet- we start on Monday). I am also sitting in on an Indian cinema course Dr. Shenk is teaching which already seems like it is going to be a lot of fun. It includes going to movie screenings every Wednesday, and this week we watched Mother India- which was absolutely fantastic and mind-blowing. It is a fascinating cultural narrative that despite being three hours, really sucks you in.
I also have some research projects I'm working on- a dowry transition literature review for Dr. Shenk and I am carrying over my TV show project. I hope to turn that into something I can present as a poster at the American Anthropological Association meetings in November.
Blog posts will probably typically come on Fridays now- especially since I will be too busy watching awesome South Asian films Wednesday nights! Fridays are my favorite day of the week though- so what better day to post?
This whole blog writing thing is interesting, and I am still not sure what to make of it. When you log on it shows you how many views each one of your posts has gotten. For whatever reason, my post last week was extremely unpopular- I only got about half the views I typically get. I guess my readership doesn't consist of very many pet-lovers...?
It is often hard for me to decide what to include here. There are all sorts of things floating around in my head, lots of things I want to share and discuss. In the past I have wanted to discuss friendship, the value in recognizing different perspectives, pet peeves, and the seemingly unconscious competitive nature of people in their twenties. Now that the semester has started back up I keep thinking about theory, philosophy, projects, and the value of research. But I struggle in deciding what and how much to share here. Perhaps this is largely due to the fact that this isn't a diary, and I am not altogether sure, even after 19 weeks of blogging, why people read what I write and what they expect to find here.
DISCLAIMER: I am about to go on a bit of a rant, so just a brief warning before I do: what I say is simply my perspective, that has developed from my personal experiences. I have not always thought of things in this way, they morph as time goes by, and therefore they are likely different from yours. Just understand where they are coming from: a twenty-something year old girl just trying to figure out her philosophy and her life in whatever way she can. If you don't want to read my rant: skip to the photos!
So, I think it is difficult for me to decide what to write here because I suspect that I am a slightly different person- I exhibit a slightly different face- around each person that I know. Dominic is reading the book The Recognitions by William Gaddis, and a few days after I brought up a discussion with him about how many of us act differently around different people, he read a quote to me from it, which was a quote in turn, from Guy de Maupassant: "I mask myself among masked people."
Most of us do this to an extent. By exhibiting a different face, I do not necessarily mean that I act like a completely different person around different people- I do not think that I do, and I think there is a difference between being that sort of fake person, and the sort of person that, in some ways reflect the person you are with. I find that oftentimes I chose how to act based off of how the person I am with acts. Of course we all act differently around our lovers than we do our grandparents, differently around our professors than around our friends.
Let me try to articulate what I am thinking a little bit better. A good friend recently told me that she thinks that I often have a lot of things in my mind which I do not share. I thought about this for a while after she said it, and I realized that is is probably true. I often do not share what I am truly thinking- she knows this, and thus she often asks me directly how I feel or think about something. Dominic does the same thing. I cannot skirt a direct question, and so she (and he) often gets true answers out of me. However, many other people never ask me that- and thus, unless I am extremely comfortable with them, they will never know. Unless I know you very well, and trust that you will value or appreciate what I have to say- I will likely not tell you what it is that I am actually thinking in regards to what it is you are saying. There are only a handful of people in my life I feel I can state my opinion to directly with no fear of offending them.
I think the main reason I fail to say what I am thinking is that I am convinced that the person I am listening to or talking with will not like what I have to say, and I never like and always want to avoid hurting other people's feelings. I know all too well what it feels like to have have hurt feelings, and I prefer sparing other people of that whenever I can.
However, anyone who truly knows me knows that I am a person who actually gets annoyed very easily (Amber character flaw #1- I am overly critical of myself, thus I cannot help, at times, but be overly critical of everyone else). If you are someone who I have in any way indicated to you when it is that you are annoying me or when I disagree with you- via either direct comment or tone of voice- then you are someone I value greatly because I trust you to accept me even when I am annoyed or in disagreement with you.
Oh, the list of things people do that annoy and frustrate me- at times even making my blood boil, and yet I say nothing for fear of hurting feelings or creating conflict or misunderstanding.
The things that truly bother me involve self-absorption and lack of empathy which you can see on a daily basis in the people you interact with and/or just by watching the news. People who talk constantly about themselves, every time you encounter them. People who participate in cliques and exclude others for no reason other than that they do not fit within the unstated yet predefined characteristics of the clique. People who genuinely think they are better than other people. People who value money and think, in some twisted world, it can lead to happiness. In fact this links to one of the things that annoys me more than absolutely anything else anyone can do- people who complain about something to someone else when they know that the other person has it worse off than they do. The genuine lack of empathy in our society-which I think plays into all these things- absolutely astounds me. Empathy is one of humankind's most valuable and unique traits- and yet so many of us forget that. Watch the news, talk to your friends...so many people today have absolutely no empathy for anyone else- or they have somehow forgotten their ability to feel empathy for others. Just a few more specific examples of many: a slim person who complains about being "fat" or eating too many calories to a person who struggles with their weight. People who complain about "not getting any" or being lonely to someone whose never really had "any" or has been alone for years. People who complain about being broke when they spend all sorts of money on clothes, partying, vacationing, etc. to someone who isn't sure, month by month, how they are going to pay the bills...
Okay, I know we all slip up and say things we shouldn't. I understand that and, like everyone else, am guilty of it too. We all say things we shouldn't, we all hurt other people's feelings, and sometimes we can all be stupid and selfish. But I am talking about people who do this habitually- I call them habitual-face-rubbers. Whether they know it or not, they come across as people who apparently enjoy rubbing their successes which still, "oh poor me," aren't quite good enough, in the faces of those who, despite their best efforts, are worse off. To these habitual-face-rubbers: you are short-sighted, lack perspective, fail to think before you speak, and whether it is true or not, you come across to other people as a complete ass. Sometimes people don't have what you have because it is harder for them, because they've been dealt different cards. Perhaps they have had to make sacrifices to better themselves or take care of their family, maybe they have pasts that have been more difficult, maybe they have more internal struggles than you do. But they are stronger people for it. Too bad you can't say the same.
Long story short, then, since I exhibit different faces around different people (this is something I have considered rectifying, but am not altogether certain it is something that needs to or can be rectified, perhaps I am just a person with many heads, as we all are, in some ways) it is difficult for me to decide which face to exhibit here.
Another quote from one of Dominic's books- Seneca: Letters from a Stoic- which he read to me last night, sums up the person we should all strive to be, or at least I am going to strive to be: "Happy [is] the man who improves other people not merely when he is in their presence but even when he is in their thoughts..." (56). I have had people in my life- some of them who are no longer in it- who even when I think of them inspire me to be a better person. If I ever hope to be a person who exhibits a positive influence on others- when I am around and when I am not- perhaps I should more frequently tell people what it is that I am thinking. It is the only way to prove to myself that my thoughts harbor value, and perhaps it is a way to weed out any of those people who may not be worth engaging with in the first place.
So there you go, there is a glimpse of my "true" face.
Here is what everyone else is doing today (because I have to add pictures!!):
Both the boys took a nap after an early morning Home Depot shift- Dominic's head is covered up
Rips is just hanging out, being cute.
Oh, and a picture of Dominic's Beatle hair cut- A direct birthday request from Yvonne (happy Birthday Yvonne!)!
This pic is a little dark, but Dominic and I both liked it.
Have a good weekend everyone- and for your own and everyone else's sake, practice a little extra empathy this week. I'm gonna work on it too.