the comeback kid

Update: I’m not dead.

Not yet, anyway.

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May 2019. Burnaby, BC, Canada.

I’m going to be real for a moment with you, internet.

There were many moments between August 2016 and now when I wished I was dead. I can honestly say that I was not prepared for the emotional and mental gymnastics university would toss my way, not to mention all that has occurred in my personal life.

Despite that, I’m still here.

Having the gift of hindsight, I would still say it was all worth it.

Here are some things I’ve accomplished while I’ve neglected this poor ol’ blog:

  • [Fall 2016] I volunteer for my first academic conference, New Ways of Analyzing Variation 45. It establishes a firm foundation for my sociolinguistic interests. I meet grad students and professors that I stay in touch with all the years I’m at SFU.
  • [Fall 2017] Syntax emerges as a primary interest in my major. I think about further research as well as grad school, and contact former professors for advice.
  • [Summer 2018] I take on a directed research semester at my university’s syntax lab, analyzing data and literature from graduate students regarding whether or not people find singular ‘they’ to be grammatical, and why.
  • [Summer 2018] I am selected for my first academic fellowship, which helps me gain desired experience in library work, and prepares me for graduate level challenges.
  • [Spring 2019] I am offered a place in the MS Library and Information Science program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, my first choice.
  • [Spring 2019] I graduate with my BA in Linguistics from Simon Fraser University. (The ceremony is in two days.)

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May 2018. Vancouver, BC, Canada.

There were a great number of challenges in my time in Canada, which I won’t bother getting into here. I’d much prefer to focus on what’s gone right.

Overall, my university has been a truly fulfilling experience. I have made and maintained lots of fantastic connections with such beautiful human beings. I truly challenged myself in ways I might not have done, had I gone to another school.

There’s much more to be sorted out during the summer, but I can’t help but feel a sort of contentment about all I’ve done at SFU.

Growing up, I didn’t tend to finish what I started, but I know more now than when I was younger. I know what I want, I don’t give up as easily, and I work on managing my expectations and output when I have the energy to.

Let’s also not forget that I have been lucky to have heaps of support from many people in my life: supervisors, mentors, friends, family, professors, lovers here and gone. This story isn’t complete without acknowledging them, and the time and effort they dedicated to making my life easier. Some of us may be out of touch, but the impact you made still lingers. Thank you.

the power of obligation

Last month, I was contacted by three people I would rather not have engaged with, but I did so anyway. Why?

 

An obligation, I suppose you could say. All three of these people were folks I’d had a habit of chatting with quite frequently and excitedly at some point in the past. At a later date, all three made me feel not OK in major ways for reasons that I’ll refrain from getting into detail here.

Somehow, I felt that I would or could make things worse by not saying anything in response to their contact, in case they didn’t understand why I didn’t want to be contacted (even though I communicated to each of them what was amiss). Our past interactions inspired me to respond, too.

 

 

There’s a sense of finality in breaking ties with people, whether it’s speaking to them less, or going your own way, online, offline or both. It can make things uncomfortable if you have friends in common, and/or frequent similar social circles. It can cast a shadow over anyone’s day.

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Not breaking ties is tempting. It’s an ‘engage anyway’ button that a good chunk of folks tend to push perhaps without fully realising it, and it almost always comes at a cost to the one pushing it.

 

 

When folks do something wrong, there can be an assumption in play that we should just carry on as though nothing has happened, and move on. That it’s not worth the bother. I’m trying fiercely to break this habit, at least in the sense that I don’t speak up when something’s not quite right.

Part of moving on for me involves dealing with the thing, if it’s within my ability to. At the very least, I want those around me to acknowledge they’re aware of it. I would want to know if I mucked something up so I could fix it, if possible. (I am very aware not everyone shares this feeling.)

At best, the problem lies within a simple miscommunication that can be smoothed out if and when all parties involved are receptive to talking about it. At worst, one side shuts down when such news is being relayed, which usually leads to resentment, questioning safety, and other negatives.

 

 

Practice does not necessarily make perfect, but it should make better in a number of cases.

It’s rough finding ways to let people know you’re not OK, especially if you’re seen by others as a person who is relatively strong of will and/or are used to going a lot of things alone. Keep this in mind: even strong people can break when you think that they’re merely bending.

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August ’07, Indianapolis

Please consider being receptive to constructive criticism, even if it’s just to allow the person giving the criticism space, and to give you space to mull the information over awhile. Even if they’re parting words, and even if it hurts. Within that hurt is the opportunity to learn. We’re works in progress, and it’d be foolhardy to assume we’ve got it all figured out.

Please also tell yourself – maybe more than once – that it’s alright to disengage when you feel it necessary, nostalgia be damned. Holding onto memories of the good times serves little purpose if it’s being invoked during repeats of harmful behaviour, whether said behaviour is intended or not.

 

One obligation we have and often forget is the obligation to ourselves, to our hearts and to our well-being. Those obligations are simply not possible to fulfill if we keep offensive actions in our lives.

Part III in a personal blog series about interactions on the internet.

Part II: https://kungfulasers.com/2014/04/03/possession/

lolcats and ink splats

‘If you are not a part of the solution, you are a part of the problem.’

Lately I’ve noticed folks taking variations of this quote and using it on their journey to go barrel rolling round the internet at 11.

I’ve had an issue with this quote (which is very likely misquoted) for a while for the above reason and much more, and haven’t felt strong enough to voice it until now.

I seem to have developed some sort of fear of expressing myself online as often as I used to due to this rise in ‘with us or against us’ culture, and also perhaps because of feeling guilty that I am slowly losing the time and energy to actively contribute to any possible stated ‘solution’, vague or not.

This leaves me confused and out of the loop, sometimes unable to get on board with things due to simply lacking the information. Am I now problematic?

 

 

On another side of things, for those who do have the time and energy to familiarize themselves, it is very true that people can be resistant to change, and even outright refuse because it means more work to do what is widely seen as right, or simply commonly accepted. This lot can certainly be encouraged, but ultimately it’s their job/choice to take the steps.

 

However, speaking in absolutes where someone else’s feelings are concerned without substantial evidence runs the risk of being eerily impertinent.

Fall ’05, Los Angeles.

 

Does one misstep count as being anti-x? How mild or severe must the mistake be to rule someone completely out as being in your corner? How do we tell what a true apology is, and what a ‘fauxpology’ is when someone is in the wrong? Can we dialogue with those undecided on positions, or is it not worth it?

 

 

In hopes of finding some of these answers, I have been quieter and more observant of exchanges online, where possible.

Sometimes I do not even actively participate in them, save to learn terms that may be foreign/otherwise inaccessible to me, what not to say or do within certain circles to maintain that I respect people and would also like to be respected in turn.

 

Education is often an ongoing lifetime process as people and times change (and hopefully grow).

I don’t always succeed, but I try to exercise empathy for the folks who are going to 11, and to exercise patience for the ones who don’t yet understand something I’ve only just learned.

 

 

In a funny sort way, this rise of ‘barrel roll to 11’ culture has been a good thing for me, as it pushes me to engage in more exchanges offline, moderate exchanges I control online, and seek out one-on-one exchanges in general to further understanding.

 

I am not of the opinion that sharing is impossible in the face of difficulty (even where there are disagreements). 

I feel confident in my determination to create space for myself and others in which to safely speak and dissect, as well as call out where necessary. That in itself takes work, so perhaps I am doing some good, though it might not be observed by all.

 

Part II in a personal blog series about interactions on the internet.

Part I: https://kungfulasers.com/2013/08/01/emotion/