Sunday, April 17, 2016

The One About Underwear (My Addiction [to underpants] Story)

Every once in a while I feel productive and tidy up around my room. No, this doesn't mean I throw out the trash. No, I don't organize my scattered textbooks, no I don't do laundry, I don't collect the strings of multicolored yarn, I don't stack the confettied sheet music, I don't make my bed, I don't take the dishes downstairs.

I reorganize my clothing.

I go through my dresser and remove clothes I don't wear and put them in a bag in my closet, inevitably finding something in that bag that I just know I'll want to wear soon so I put that in my dresser. I rehang various cardigans and dressers, refold shirts that I had planned to wear but then discarded and stuffed in the incorrect drawer. I marvel at the amount of clothes I own, and marvel even more at the fact that when my choreographer asks for a certain color or type of clothing, I still manage to have none of it.

This process happened today, and I ended up focusing on my undergarments. I decided to do what they tell you and actually hang all my bras up, which turned out to be a very good idea. For one thing, it's supposed to be good for them. For another, bras are very awkward to fold or place in a drawer, and take up a lot of room. Room that could be better used for my growing underpants collection.

This is my inspiring story about underpants.

My mom was never that "girly," meaning she didn't wear makeup and didn't, as far as I know, buy fancy underpants and bras and dresses and crap like that. She wore jeans and t-shirts and had crazy frizzy hair and beat people up. My older sister was always a huge tomboy, especially around the time I hit puberty. So even though no one ever said anything of the sort, I got the idea that if I were remotely interested in anything feminine, I would be a disappointment to them both. It wasn't "cool" to like feminine things such as underwear and makeup and dresses.

I literally wore the same underwear from around age 11 to age 19. A pack of Hanes. I was wearing the wrong bra size for years because when my sister took me bra shopping for the first time I wanted to get in and out of there as fast as possible. Neither her nor my mom was good at the whole puberty thing, so I was left to figure out my bra size myself (I had deemed underwear to be a "taboo" topic of conversation, and yet also a sign of weakness if I didn't understand it). Unfortunately for me, my breasts developed quickly and not wearing the right bra was more than a little uncomfortable. Fortunately for me, I was always at ballet anyway and didn't have to wear real bras.

Anyway, I didn't buy myself underwear until I got my first boyfriend at age 19. He was way more interested in undergarments than I was, and it was under his encouragement that I started to buy new underwear.

Now, I don't regret any of those early purchases, but here's the thing: I was basing my purchases around his taste's, which were actually very different than my own. So the underwear I'd buy would almost be a compromise, with some being my own taste and some definitely being his. Nevertheless, I discovered that it is surprisingly uplifting to be wearing something cute and comfortable under my clothes.

It has taken me a very long time to be comfortable with my underwear. That is a very odd sentence, but let me explain it even further:

Perhaps because of all my misconceptions as a child, I've always felt out of place with any form of femininity. Dresses, lace, pink, makeup, you name it. Not only was it uncool to be interested in it, but it just didn't look good on me anyway.

Like if I try to look like a beautiful woman, it will just be even more obvious how not beautiful I am.

That is an untrue belief, but one that has haunted me all my life, and still haunts me today. I remember the first time I actually wore shorts in public (also age 19), the first time I started wearing dresses even when I didn't have to (18 or 19), the first time I wore a loud shade of pink (19), and the first time I wore heels (20).

Last week I almost bought some clip-on bows. A voice in my head scorned, "Really? Bows? You really wanna make it obvious how not cute you are by putting something cute in that choppy hair of yours?" I didn't buy the bows.

My first boyfriend definitely boosted my self esteem in my appearance and yes, my femininity. But every ounce of femininity was geared towards his taste. I hadn't developed my own taste yet, and so I adopted his without much thought. And when I felt uncomfortable, I blamed it on me just not being pretty enough to do justice to pretty things.

When my boyfriend and I broke up, I bought a bunch of new underwear and bras. I focused on comfort, indulging my own color and style preferences because there was no one else who mattered anymore. I got things I knew I'd actually wear on a regular basis. And it felt so good.

Underpants are adorable and comfortable and bras are stylish and also comfortable and sometimes they can color coordinate and somethings they match perfectly and even if they don't, who cares?

This is why underwear is so important to me, and I don't care how stupid it sounds at this point. If your underwear doesn't fit, the rest of you is going to be uncomfortable too. If you aren't comfortable with the most intimate parts of yourself, how are you supposed to be okay with anything else? You should be comfortable with every layer, and that comfort can only come from you, because ultimately you should be spending the most time in your underpants. No one else walks around in them all day. Hopefully.

Okay I've gotten a little off track, but bear with me.

It is not a weakness to like feminine products. It is not slutty to wear fancy underpants. It is not stupid to wear a nice dress on a completely average day. It is not shameful to wear a bow in your hair even if you have a bad haircut.

Sometimes the best part of my day is picking my panties. Sometimes the smallest, silliest thing can bring a bit of happiness. Because when life is falling to pieces around me, at least I can say that I'm wearing soft, pretty, and well-fitting underpants.

--Dexter

Monday, April 4, 2016

Video Games Made Me a Better Musician? AKA Dexter's Dexterity

I just finished reading a fascinating book about video games called Grand Theft Childhood: The Surprising Truth about Violent Video Games and What Parents Can Do by Lawrence Kutner, PhD, and Cheryl K. Olson, ScD. Essentially it's all about the effect video games have on children, and whether or not they are a bad influence. Spoiler alert: they're not. But anyway, you should read the book if you're interested.

But a section towards the end sparked my interest in another way. It talked about how some athletic kids will play sports games, see a move on the screen, and then go practice it. The video game itself didn't teach the kids the move because doing it with your fingers and doing it with you're feet are two completely different things, but it still motivated the kid to go master it.

But you know what is extremely similar to playing video games? Playing the harp.

Hear me out.

Video games are all about finger dexterity. Whether you're using a controller or a keyboard, you have to move your fingers in very specific directions and for very specific amounts of time. I grew up playing flash platforms on the computer, moving around with WASD as well as using other buttons to sprint, attack, use items, etc. etc. It's taken me a long time to get used to using controllers, but essentially they're the same as well. You train yourself to use specific fingers for specific buttons, and eventually you don't have to think about it anymore.

The same goes with simple typing: after a while you don't have to think about the exact location of a key before you press it. I'm going to toot my own horn and say that I am a fantastic typer. I haven't speedtested myself in a while, but I average about 104 words per minute. I love typing. I love the sound of the keys and the feel of them under my fingertips, and how words just magically appear on the screen. It's awesome and satisfying (especially since I always had such bad handwriting).

Playing the harp, as well as the piano and perhaps other instruments, is also all about finger dexterity. You have to be able to move your fingers independently of each other. Your right hand is playing a melody and your left hand is playing accompanying notes that might be in a completely different pattern. I know, I know, it's not exactly the same as a video game. But it uses a lot of the same skills.

So does that mean that a pro-gamer could jump on the harp and be a master? Not necessarily. Other things are required. The same goes for gaming: just because you're good at the harp doesn't mean you'll be good at video games.

BUT.

I've got a crazy proposition for you. Video games might be a way for a child (or adult) to practice dexterity that could also be used for musical instrumentation. Maybe it wouldn't actually work, but it's a thought. An interesting concept to keep floating around the world.

All of this comes from the fact that I'm good at finger dexterity, whether it's applied to typing, video games, or harping. I have no idea if dexterity learned from one specific area could be applied to something different, but I don't think it should immediately be naysayed. Kids who think they suck at something, and yet excel in video games, shouldn't be encouraged to consider themselves failures. No, they may not be able to make a living off of video games. But a LOT of skill goes into gaming, and a LOT of that skill can be used outside of the game world.

This post is all over the place. I'm trying to be inspirational and scientific at the same time.

Do what you love and give yourself credit where you deserve it and play video games and play music and go crazy and try new things and find ways to turn what you love into something amazing and yeah that's all folks.

--Dexter