Monthly Archives: December 2014

Oh, Big Bang Theory, How I Love Thee

I absolutely love “The Big Bang Theory.” (What Do You Mean The Title Already Gave That Away?! :p) Most recent sitcoms are pretty lame, but BBT is hilarious. My love for this show is probably in part because just about everyone I know is a geek in some form or another. I think I’m progressively becoming geekier over time. I just saw the 2009 “Star Trek” movie and can’t wait to watch the other movies and the original shows. I’ve always loved music probably more than is good for me. I have ongoing debates with my husband and several friends whether knitting makes me a geek. Regardless of my current level of geekness, I seem to attract geeks like a magnet. Literally everyone in my social circle is a geek in some capacity.

When I was in high school, my friends and I loved making lists, especially on days when life felt unbelievably stupid, if you know what I mean by that. I think we got this idea from the Princess Diaries books. I can neither confirm nor deny working on these lists in class sometimes.  We made lists of celebrity crushes, lists of favorite books or movies, etc. Well, life has felt extremely stupid in more ways than one this week, so I thought I’d make lists relating to Big Bang Theory and share them with all you people.

Phrases That Have Come Out Of Me While Watching “Big Bang Theory”:

1. “Oh, no!”

2.) “No good can come from this!”

3.) “Don’t even think about it!”

4.) “SHELDON!”

5.) “This is a Bad Idea!”

6.) Saying “No-no-no-no-no!” until whatever I think I’m going to prevent has, in fact, happened, and hilarity has ensued.

7.) “Are you insane?!” (Usually directed at Sheldon or Raj but the other characters have their share of insane moments too)

Subtle (or not so subtle) Ways In Which Big Bang Theory Has Changed My Everyday Life:

1.) I bought my husband a “Rock, Paper, Scissors, Lizard, Spock!” mug for his last birthday and loved it just as much as he did

2.) I have this urge to use “Rock, Paper, Scissors, Lizard, Spock!” to settle disputes

3.) I sing “Soft Kitty” to my kitty more often than I care to admit

4.) I’ve started playing old school Mario games online on days I’m stuck in bed

5.) I have to admit that several video games actually look somewhat entertaining

The Problem With “Special”

For most of my life, I was branded as “special.” That’s what happens when you have any kind of disability. (I’ve held off on writing about my learning disability on my blog for a number of reasons. The main reason is the issue of labeling and diagnosis. As an adult who has done a lot of research, I firmly believe I was misdiagnosed. I don’t deny that I’m wired differently and have places in my brain that just don’t click. But during my adult life, a few different psychologists verified that I was probably misdiagnosed. I may write more about that in another post. I haven’t decided yet.)

When you have any kind of disability, you typically get the label of “special needs” and people focus more on what you can’t do than what you can do, which, not surprisingly, can make you focus more on what you can’t do than what you can as you grow up. It’s like there’s this unspoken rule that you’re supposed to wear the “special needs” label proudly and aspire to become a motivational speaker.

I bought into it until I was well into my teens. I got it into my head that I was going to be a motivational speaker. What I couldn’t vocalize was that I ran with this idea because I didn’t think I was capable of anything else. I can’t blame one single person for this mindset. Parents, teachers, and society in general were all equally responsible. It’s what we’ve all been taught. It’s both nobody’s fault and everybody’s fault.

Then I watched this amazing TED talk by Stella Young, and she took all the words right out of my mouth. I want to share with you some specific ways in which the label of “special” has been damaging to me.

1.) It was dehumanizing. It’s not empowering to tell someone they can be a motivational speaker if you imply that they have to settle for that because they will never be a productive member of society otherwise.

2.) It gave me a completely inaccurate picture of my own abilities. It amazed my loved ones when I got my driver’s license, had several positive work experiences, and got married. Because it amazed them, it amazed me. Again, this is what we’ve all been taught is normal. Maybe it’s normal, but normal and healthy are not interchangeable.

3.) Even though I was labeled as “special”, I was not valued. People with disabilities often lose their true identity to the “special needs” label. As someone who’s gone through the school system with a learning disability, I will tell you that teachers and case managers seldom see us as individuals. (The issue of misdiagnosis and inaccurately diagnosing various learning disabilities is a huge contributor to this problem, but that really deserves its own post.) We live in a world where people think reading a paragraph on a disability or condition is a substitute for getting to know someone. Yes, I’ve struggled royally in math and science. (I’m convinced the left portion of my brain is just not in there, to be honest!) Yes, bright light sometimes hurts my eyes. Yes, I get a bit agitated (ok, sometimes very agitated!) when my to-do list gets too long. You can read all those facts in any article or medical journal. But those sources will not tell you who I am. Those sources do not tell you that Kati is smart, funny, adores her husband, has way too many books, and knits way too much. Those are the things that make me who I am, and those are the things that were seriously under-valued when I was in school.

I’m referring to my learning disability in this post, but the “special needs” dilemma is not unique to learning disabilities. This was not an easy post to write and I’m sure people will have strong opinions about it, but that doesn’t make it any less important to share.

Redefining Social Justice

I’ve undergone a lot of personal and spiritual changes over the past few years. One thing that is changing drastically is the way I look at social justice.

While I’ve never been on the front lines of the social justice movement, it’s always been important to me. And now I’m realizing that maybe it’s been a little too important. When my anorexia was in full swing, I actually used social justice as an excuse to not eat as much as my body was telling me to, because there are starving children in Africa of course. (It didn’t help that several of my high school friends reminded me of this fact constantly and sometimes even berated me for eating.) Before and after my battle with anorexia, I often neglected to take care of my mental health. Music and TV can really help me relax, but I thought it was selfish to enjoy those things when so many people don’t have them. I didn’t know how I could have any place in the area of social justice if I had my own ongoing issues that need seeing to.

From what I can tell, I’m not alone on that one. Many well-intentioned social justice advocates are great at taking care of other people and lousy at taking care of themselves. (What Do You Mean This Reminds You Of Someone? 0:-) ) William Wilberforce worked so hard at abolishing slavery that he suffered from ulcerative colitis, a digestive condition usually triggered by massive amounts of stress. Erin Gruwell (portrayed by Hilary Swank in “Freedom Writers”) was so invested in her students that she threw personal boundaries down the toilet and her marriage fell apart.

Why do the Americanized church and society in general approach social justice in such a linear, all-or-nothing way? I have a few theories.

1.) We have a white savior complex. We want to present ourselves as having it all together and not having any problems. Focusing on mental health awareness and prison reform would require admitting that (shocker!) our country has its own social issues. Why would we want to admit that when we can pretend we’ve got it all together and go overseas kicking down brothel doors? After all, that’s where the real problems are. We’re white Americans. No problems here!

2.) We want to look good. Want to make a real difference in the social justice arena? Sign petitions online. I’m completely serious. You would be amazed at the things that have been accomplished through this venue. But since people don’t always know when people do this, one can’t expect to be sainted for it, so no one wants to do it. The same goes for buying fair trade products. The impact is profound but no one really believes that.

3.) We want to be martyrs. We want other people to admire us for tirelessly devoting ourselves to different causes. We’re afraid to want things because the last thing we need is another lecture about how there are starving children in Africa. (I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Africa is not the only place where children are starving!)

There’s no place for me in this narrow-minded definition of social justice, so I’m redefining it. Buying environmentally household products is an act of social justice. (After all, poisoning your neighbor’s water supply is not exactly a loving thing to do.) Buying fair trade tea and chocolate is an act of social justice, seeing as depriving someone of a decent wage is also unloving. Signing online petitions totally constitutes speaking up for the defenseless.

How do you define social justice? How do you make it a part of your everyday life?

“Toy Story” Then and Now

I recently watched “Toy Story” for the first time in years and couldn’t resist sharing my responses then and now. I’m deliberately keeping this short because the fatigue is kicking my butt today.

Toy Story” at age 8:

-I was completely fascinated with the animation style. This is totally going to date me, but “Toy Story” was the first full-length CG-animated film that Pixar ever produced, so it was a huge deal at the time.

-There was a kid in my class named Sid who I didn’t like all that much. He was your basic elementary school twerp; nothing too out of the ordinary. But after I saw “Toy Story” I liked him even less. (Sid, if you’re out there and you’re reading this, it’s nothing personal. I just had an imagination the size of Jupiter when I was a kid!)

Toy Story” at age 26:

-If the toys can talk and move around and all that, why the heck can’t the toy soldiers get off their stands and walk? I have already debated this topic with my husband and my sister. They both say that the stands are essentially part of the soldiers’ bodies, which makes absolutely no sense in my professional opinion. This is going to bother me forever. I will never let this go!

-Sid needs to have his butt hauled off to a child psychologist. I did not realize how dark the character of Sid is in that movie. I’m not the type to get paranoid about what kind of movies my future kids see, but I’m really not sure about “Toy Story” when they’re little. That part of the movie is extremely off-putting. I don’t exactly want to have to have the “some kids are clinical psychopaths” conversation with my kiddos.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving, and I’ll be back soon! (I hope!)