Updatestravaganza!

Have been in one of those funks where rather than write, or read, or be productive, I nap for six hours a day and try not to be hit in the face by the children who live in my house. So that’s been fun. (Study abroad: I am the worst at it.) So, in lieu of actual, structured post, here’s some interesting things that have happened recently:

Thesis, oh god why: So my thesis adviser’s suggestions and my wordiness led to a thesis proposal that was roughly twice the length it was supposed to be. Whoops. Hatcheted it down, and the entire time I wept for killing my babies. (“Don’t you want to know about theoretical frameworks for death? Or blogging? Or my love for danah boyd? No? Okay.”) Need to get it sent in by the end of the week. Am somewhat terrified. Then realized that I would happily not do a thesis if it wasn’t a Prudent Thing to Do, and stopped caring as much. (Also, did you know that GDocs now has MWord comment support? It does! This is the best thing ever.)

Senegal has a new president: So that’s pretty neat! The night he was elected there was a spontaneous parade in the street near my house. It was pretty fantastic. This also means that a) we’re not going to be like Mali and b) I can stay in the country without fearsome emails from the embassy. Yay! Continue reading

Awkward Moments in Cross-Cultural Communication

At lunch today, I realized that the maid who works in my host family’s house does not speak French. This is somewhat embarrassing, given that I’ve been living here for a week.

We had been getting along just fine with gestures and avoided eye contact. It turns out “no, that doesn’t go there,” and “I find it funny that you cannot ever light the stove,” are messages that can be conveyed totally without words. I had assumed that the rest of the time she was just busy or shy.

But no, it turns out that she has avoided talking to me because we do not share a mutually intelligible language. Whoops.
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Reevaluating Facebook

New Year's Eve

Seriously. They're awesome parties.

I removed my Facebook wall today. I’m going to try to avoid Facebook as much as I can, and see if that goes well. I think it will. Realistically, there are very few people I interact with regularly, and I have redundant systems–email for my friends who don’t got to school with me, phone for my family, and running into people at my little tiny school if they need me. My contact information is still up there, if someone needs to text me.

While my wall is gone, I’m going to reevaluate what I’m using Facebook for. I’m not one of those people who truly wants to delete my profile; for one, I have had useful and good things come of Facebook, and it is by far the thing that gets me the most hits on this site or on my HackCollege articles. It’s a great way to distribute content I find interesting or useful (or–to be honest–that I create). There are links that I routinely want to send to individuals, and I think it’s probably ruder and more intrusive to send those via email. The reusable K-cup that I found the other day is totally awesome for my friend with a Kurig, but that doesn’t make it worth an email. And, oftentimes, it’s the way that I find out about parties friends are throwing–real-life events that I want to attend because my friends throw awesome parties.

Perhaps the way to use it is to reevaluate the Facebook ettiquette. Currently, I’m like most people; I friend pretty much anyone who requests me, regardless of degree of intimacy. Perhaps if I knocked that back down to the 50 or so people I actually care about, Facebook would become useful for me again. It is difficult to go through the 500-ish friends I have accumulated, though, and rearrange my settings so that I’m back where I want to be. And, because I’m a worrier, I’m always somewhat afraid that I’ll unfriend someone who I really will want to get in touch with at some point. The fact that I possess about 800 ways to do this outside of Facebook (or, with Facebook messages, within Facebook) does not seem to appease my lizard brain. And, if I lost those contacts I would have difficulty keeping people up-to-date with things I write, which is something I want to do.

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Number Six

This is the sixth-most-played song in my iTunes library (after, among other things, “Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard” and the Beastie Boys). It’s a cover of another song, which is number eight.

It’s weird to me that they’re both in my top ten. They’re both very much tied to strong emotional periods in my life, they way you have when you’re in high school freshman year of college, and you Feel with a capital “f.” The first song is a cover of the second, originally by The Knife, a weirdass Swedish band that wears bird masks and makes electronic music, which I was introduced to as a junior in high school by the boy who would later turn my heart into ground beef.

It was the summer after my junior year of high school, and it was one of those summers that actually mattered (and the last time I would have a free summer before being shunted off to Nerd Camp I, Nerd Camp II, and employment for different kinds of personal growth). Most of my friends were a year older than me, and I got sucked into their celebrations of having graduated in between being mad at my parents and brewing wine in a Nalgene in my closet (memories!). There was a lot of drinking Two Buck Chuck and finally feeling like I had people who liked me enough that they wouldn’t shun me if I danced around them, and taking long-exposure glowstick photos, and singing along to Kimya Dawson in the car without a whole lot to worry about.

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