Sunday, April 1, 2012

Once Upon A Diagnosis...

Walt Disney brought to life hundreds of loveable characters for decades of children and families to enjoy. But dig a little deeper into these creations, and you will find that they are wrought with personality issues, maladjustments, and psychopathological tendencies. And he started out strong, too—as you will see, even the very first cinematic creation of the creative genius is 80 minutes chock full of undiagnosed psychopathologies. It makes us wonder…what was really going on in Disney Studios?

The Queen.
This woman has a serious case of Narcissistic Personality Disorder. According to the DSM-IV, the symptoms of NPD include grandiosity, need for admiration, and a sense of entitlement. The giveaway symptom is the Queen’s Magic Mirror, which she keeps on the wall for the sole purpose of stroking her already ginormous ego (One may argue that she also shows symptoms of delusional schizophrenia with accompanying hallucinations…has anyone else ever communicated with a talking mirror?). These symptoms are a reaction to the underlying sense of inferiority that these individuals possess, and they are usually envious and angry of others who steal the limelight…and we all know how that worked out for her.

Snow White. The leading lady of the film is looking at a diagnosis of severe Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. After being forced to scrub the palace steps for years and years, she cannot stop herself from cleaning, washing dishes, and making beds for complete strangers the second she steps into a random empty house. She has no regard for safety, personal space, or privacy. Thus, a psychologist may argue that her obsession with cleanliness interferes with her well-being.

Prince Charming.
This dude has a pretty bad case of necrophilia. Usually flowers and a Lord Byron poem suffice at a funeral…someone who tries to make out with the corpse—on a whim, no less—should probably see a shrink. (Prince Phillip from Sleeping Beauty also has these abnormal impulses…someone should conduct a genealogical history to look for possible genetic tendencies.)

The Dwarfs. As far as these guys go, they all seem to be suffering from some kind of illness (save Sneezy, who just has a bad case of hay fever). While Doc is obviously the most intelligent of the crew, he constantly mixes up his words and syllables, symptoms pointing to some kind of aphasia. It appears, at first, that Sleepy is suffering from insomnia; however, scenes in the movie show him sleeping soundly at night. His excessive drowsiness is therefore likely attributed to sleep apnea—as also symptomized by his violent snoring. Happy seems to be stuck in a constant state of mania, but as the movie doesn’t follow his symptoms for long enough, a diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder cannot officially be determined. Poor Bashful is likely suffering from Avoidant Personality Disorder, and Dopey’s mental retardation is yet to be determined as genetic or the effects of severe drug abuse. Nothing much can be said about Grumpy…he’s probably just suffering from PMS.

Disney did such a good job with creating psychologically ill characters, that he just kept the ball rolling in his later films. Case studies include:

Simba. This trouble-maker “deliberately disobeyed” his father, mother, and Zaszu by engaging in reckless endeavors and risky behavior, leading to an indisputable diagnosis of Oppositional Defiant Disorder. As an adult, Simba suppressed his guilty conscience and feelings about his father, and became defensive when part of his suppressed past came back to his consciousness. Luckily, a swift hit on the head from a crazy monkey did the trick…if only real life worked like that.

Ariel. The Little Mermaid seems to be suffering from a rare, more severe pathology: body dysmorphic disorder. This disorder manifests in preoccupation with some perceived defect in one’s body image. The fact that every other merperson under the sea is perfectly content with remaining finned and scaled, her desire for legs is completely abnormal. Furthermore, most BDD patients will go to extreme lengths to change their “defected” body parts…and what is more extreme than trading your voice box for legs?

This kleptomaniac Arabian knight is also a pathological liar, going to extremes in order to gain riches, fame, and Princess Jasmine (not that I blame him—she’s by far the hottest princess in Disney cinema. And she has a tiger. Come on).

Beast. His unprecedented episodes of raging anger warrant an Intermittent Explosive Disorder diagnosis. Belle didn’t really do THAT much when she walked into the study…let's be real. The rose was magic, the prince was already a beast, and his servants were talking pieces of furniture. How much more damage could she have really done?

Marlin. This Finding Nemo hero had severe agoraphobia, which he self-treated with extreme exposure therapy. Good for you, Marlin. Good for you.

Pocahontas. My favorite Disney princess could possibly have synesthesia, a neurological disorder that causes one’s senses to cross over each other. Individuals with synesthesia have been known to taste shapes, hear numbers, or, in Pocahontas’s case, see colors of the wind.

Mulan. Boy, does this girl have issues. Gender identity issues, to be exact. Scene 2 of Mulan has the poor girl being pushed and shoved into girly kimonos and obis against her will—epitomizing one of the main symptoms of Gender Identity Disorder from the DSM: “Girls with GID display intense negative reactions to parental expectations or attempts to have them wear dresses or other feminine attire.” She proceeds to wonder when her reflection will show “who she is inside.” And once she starts dressing like a man—voila! No more questions.

Cruella Deville. JPN. Just Plain Nuts.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A Letter to Joe Pa

Dear Joe Pa,

This morning I felt a rare pang of loss. A pang that sat deep in my chest, stifled only by my closing throat as I tried to remain stoic in the Pasquerilla sanctuary where I knelt in front of your casket. A pang that put me at a loss for words when I hugged your sons, Jay and Scott, rendering me so helplessly speechless, that the only verbal comfort I could summon from my mouth was also the most obvious: “Your father was a great man.” A feeling so striking, so unique, that I can only place it once before—at the death of my last remaining grandfather.

I am a nameless face in a sea of thousands of your admirers and mourners, just one Penn State student among countless who have experienced their college years under your omnipotent care. I never had the privilege of meeting you. I never passed you on the street or saw you driving your car. The closest I’ve ever been to you was high up in the student section, watching you pace along the sidelines of Beaver Stadium on Saturday afternoons for the past four football seasons.

And yet, for some reason that I can’t explain, I feel as if I have lost a dear, beloved grandfather. You didn’t know my name or even my face, but, somehow, I know you cared about me. You cared about all your students. Yes, we were your students, Joe Pa. Maybe not in class or on the football field, but each and every Penn Stater, past and present, belonged to you.

I remember the first time I heard you speak. It was at a freshman orientation, and I remember being surprised by how high your voice was. I expected a booming bass to overpower the cheering students, not a gentle, playful tenor telling us how excited he is for us and to make sure to take advantage of our Penn State years.

That was the last time I heard you speak in person. I never went to a Football Eve, and I missed your appearance at THON 2009 when you spoke on the stage…”For the first time in my life I’m speechless.” (I’ve replayed that YouTube video again and again.) Since Sunday, I’ve been asking myself, Ingrid, why didn’t you ever go to those rallies? Why didn’t you take every opportunity to see Joe Pa, if not for a chance to meet him, at least for the chance to hear that loving, passionate man apologize to the ladies in the audience for saying that the football players have been “busting their butts this year”?

I think, in a way, the thought of taking every opportunity to see you didn’t occur to me, because I just figured you would always be around. I know it’s illogical—and I know you would be shaking your head at me right now with a wry smile on your face—but I somehow always just thought you were invincible. Unwavering.


But the reality I was struck with on Sunday morning is that you weren’t immortal. You were a great man—one of the best men I’ve had the honor of having in my life—but still only a man. And I think the loss of Joe Pa hit Penn State and the world so hard because we were finally forced to admit that you’re only human, that you won’t be around forever, and that we have to keep being Penn State without you.

But we aren’t without you, Joe Pa. And we never will be. I’ve never even met you, and I still feel that you have touched my life in a way that nobody else can. While receiving my hug this morning, Scott said to me, “Pray for my mother. She needs it the most.” And all I could think was, that’s something you would have said. Your caring, selfless, wonderful legacy is being carried on through your sons. And not just your sons—but your players, students, and admirers.

Thank you. Thank you for not only teaching, but for demonstrating what it means to be Penn State. We love you, Joe Pa. You are Penn State. And you always will be.


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Difficult Crossword Hints?: BLUES CLUES

Dear Readers,
One of my (two) New Year's resolutions is to blog at least once a month. Here's the first post of hopefully many! Thank you for bearing with me while I got my life together this past semester--I look forward to blogging again. :) To kickstart my blog renewal, I decided to post something I wrote yesterday on my ride home from an interview. Happy reading!

I am currently sitting in an Amtrak train listening to two very loud (albeit decently educated, as far as I can tell) women sitting behind me talk about crocodile purses and misplaced car keys. I tried to work on my book of USA Today crossword puzzles, but they are just way too hard. I put it away after a five-minute stare-down with the clue “Horsewoman who barely made it through town.” What does that even mean? (If anyone reading this has absolutely any idea—without cheating by looking it up on Google—please, please let me know.) How crosswords can have a clue like that and in the same puzzle come up with something as easy as 6-Down: “Stitched” (The answer has 4 letters and the third one is W. I dare you to come up with it.) just baffles me.

I’m pretty good at crosswords. I’m by no means a master of the New York Times (I can get about two clues on a good day, and the first time I even attempted to tackle the Sunday puzzle was also the last time), but I can always eke at least a few answers out of the more challenging ones from my school newspaper. And I love the triumphant feeling that emerges when I get a clue that’s obviously a trick question, or a clue that I know most people my age wouldn’t get (I have my mother’s avid interest in 1940s screen actors and my dad’s knowledge of classical composers to thank for those answers).

The only problem with doing crosswords, though, is that it is an unheralded activity. When I complete an entire puzzle (a rare event, admittedly), the only person I can show it off to is myself. I can’t just go up to random people shoving my conquest in their faces like, “look what I just did!” I tried showing off to my family, but my sisters’ empty “greaaats” were devoid of the admiration I so desperately craved.

The praise I want for my crosswords isn’t necessarily the praise I deserve. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people say “I can’t do crosswords. I’m just so bad at them.” What they don’t realize is that mastering the art of crossword puzzles is actually something quite easily achievable, even by the least crossword-fluent person. You just need to keep in mind a few very basic rules of the CWP and, with a little practice, anyone can become a crossword champ. So, instead of sitting on the Amtrak becoming frustrated at difficult clues and chatty menopausal women, I will be helping my readers become good at crossword puzzles. You’ll soon realize that tackling a crossword puzzle is 10% knowledge, and 90% cognitive restructuring.

Ten Tips to Tackle Crosswords

1. If the clue is plural, the answer will always be plural. (ex: “Birds of peace” =DOVES). When I’m stuck on a clue, if it’s plural I’ll always go ahead and put an S in the last box.
2. When a clue has any abbreviated word in it, the answer will always be abbreviated. (“Corp. VIP”=CEO)
3. “(word) in (a country or foreign city)” means they are looking for that word in that country or city’s native language (“Water in Mexico”=AGUA). Also, if a clue has one word in a foreign language, the answer will be in that language (“Place for a chapeau”=TETE).
4. If you know an answer has something to do with butter or margarine, but it’s only 4 letters, the answer is OLIO. Crossword puzzlers seem to like this word for some reason, and it crops up fairly often.
5. A clue with a ? at the end of it means that the answer is in some way witty, punny, or clever (ex: Giraffe’s extremity? TALL TAIL)
6. “Or” indicates a singular answer (“Nicholson or Black” = JACK), while “and” tells you that the answer is plural (“Nicholson and Black”=JACKS)
7. When a crossword has several long, punny answers, they usually are structured similarly. For example, two clues in the same puzzle may be “Chubby feline” (FAT CAT) and “rotund oinker” (BIG PIG). When you get one answer, you can most likely use that format as a template for the others.
8. Look at the clue in different ways. Crosswords usually use words differently from what you would expect; for example, I just now came across the clue “It’s usually a drag.” I was thinking of events that are boring, like Bridge or C-SPAN. Nope—the answer is BUNT. (Note: I had to look that up.)
9. Like OLIO, some answers are used ad nauseum. From my experience, these are three of the most popular crossword puzzle clues and answers:
1. Future atty.’s exam: LSAT (note the abbrev.!)
2. Sitarist Shankar: RAVI
3. Tolkein tree: ENT (but all those LOTR fans out there would know that without my help!)
10. Finally, my absolute least favorite part of crossword puzzles is the quip. According to the definition that Google just texted me, a “quip” is a witty remark. Crosswords will sometimes throw in three agonizingly long answers that each spans the breadth of the puzzle, and the only clues you have to go by are “Beginning of a quip,” “middle of a quip,” and “end of a quip.” I still have found no good way to tackle these clues, besides getting as many intersecting answers as possible. I hate quip clues, and I always will.

There you have it. Ten easy lessons to keep in mind when tackling crossword puzzles. You’ll soon realize that they’re not nearly as hard as you once thought. For nerds like me, there’s nothing quite like the satisfaction of figuring out a challenging crossword answer. I hope I’ve convinced at least some of you to pick up the newspaper and try the crossword; once you learn the shortcuts, they’re actually fun—I promise!

Monday, August 1, 2011

The 35 Grossest Words in the English Language

Ever have words that just totally gross you out, even if they have no gross connotation? Then there are the words that DO have gross connotations that are even more disgusting. These words are uncomfortable to say, feel nasty to hear, look disgusting in print, and just leave a terrible, awful taste in your mouth and a clenching pit in your stomach. So here it is--my compilation of the top 35 grossest words in the English language. Brace yourself; this is not for the weak-stomached.

1. Moist
2. Crusty
3. Discharge
4. Bolus
5. Pus
6. Phlegm
7. Viral
8. Pubic, Pubertal, Puberty, Pube, etc.
9. Warts
10. Ballsack
11. Turgid
12. Rectum
13. Limpid
14. Pimple
15. Nipple
16. Panties
17. Lips
18. Testes
19. Flaccid
20. Feces
21. Lumps
22. Juices
23. Cleavage
24. Chaffing
25. Foreskin
26. Placenta
27. Ebola
28. Festering
29. Spermy
30. Boil
31. Tubules
32. Jiggle
33. Spew
34. Upchuck
35. Squirt

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Great Expectations

“I don’t expect much from people in general.”

My friend said this to me one night during a discussion on Facebook chat, and when I asked him why, he explained, “they will always just disappoint me.”

Wow. Really?

For some reason, that rubbed me entirely the wrong way. Sure, I guess some people can and will disappoint you, but should that put a blanket over your holistic view of people? Has my friend really been so terribly mistreated, so horribly let down by everyone that he has learned not to expect anything from anyone? I doubt it.

And even if he had been let down by everyone in his life, what makes it okay to lower your standards so people meet your expectations? It’s like erasing the chalky, etched foul line on the pavement and re-drawing it a few feet closer to the basketball hoop. Sure, it may not challenge you anymore, but at least the ball easily swishes through the net every time you shoot.

In elementary and middle school, I remember suffering the consequences of maintaining the scapegoat status in my group of friends. I never got to sit in the middle of the lunch table (everyone knows the people on the ends have it the worst; I had to strain my already sub-par ears just to catch the punch line of a funny story). My friends never invited me into their secret clubs (I distinctly remember them forming a “Bean Club” from which I was excluded, and then ridiculed for not belonging to it. Um, if you’re not going to invite me to your club, how do you justify making fun of me for not being part of it? In retrospect, I’m happy I never joined the Bean Club. My friends probably would’ve made sure I was the kidney bean or lima bean, or something else that’s totally low on the Bean Hierarchy.)

I never accepted those little jabs at my confidence level as okay; I realized that I deserved better friends and I slowly cut off ties with the group (they did finally invite me into the Bean Club; I politely declined).

Now, eight years later, I would definitely say I have good friends--and lots of them. Sure, some of them have disappointed me, and I’m sure I have disappointed some of them. I’m not perfect (by any means), and I don’t expect the important people in my life to be. In fact, I don’t expect anyone in my life to be. Perfection isn’t what I look for—I look for “good enough.”

But what is good enough? Clearly, my friend’s “good enough” does not match mine. His “good enough” is so low, that nobody can disappoint him. Of what use is that?

Is it snobby to hold high expectations of people?

More importantly, what expectations are considered too high?

Overall, I expect kindness. I expect generosity, conscientiousness, and genuine concern about other people. I don't think that's too much to ask.

Why isn't it too much to ask? Because the majority of people actually possess these traits. Enough of this crap about society being selfish, greedy and egotistical. I believe that people are inherently good, caring about others as much as (or more than) they care about themselves. Some will say that this optimism about people is na├»ve or ignorant—I think it’s ignorant to think otherwise. Call me easy to please, but I am ultimately satisfied with nearly everyone I meet.

And when I’m not satisfied, I move on. I don’t believe that you should lower your expectations to prevent disappointment. If someone disappoints you, it should only propel you to raise your standards for the next person you meet. Because unless you’re looking at someone like James Franco (sexy, talented and smart? Okay, he just might be perfect), there’s always going to be someone who surprisingly surpasses your expectations.

So, while I’m waiting for that person, I will continue to maintain my high standards. And I can only hope that everyone else does, too. My expectations may not always be met, but at least I know that when they are, that person really does meet them. I won’t re-locate my foul line closer to the net—I’d rather wait longer for someone to make the shot from half court. And I know someone will.

Friday, February 25, 2011

15 Things That Inexplicably Freak Me Out

1. The ball of dried up lotion that forms over the opening of the lotion bottle pump. Whenever I rub my hands together and feel it between my palms, a shiver travels from deep inside my gastrointestinal tract, up through my esophagus, and out my skin. I have to flick it away as quickly as possible, not caring where it lands, as long as it’s no longer on ME.

2. The hard, dried-up edge of a piece of cheese that’s been sitting in the fridge too long. I have to make a 2-inch diameter cut around the end of the dryness just to eat it—and by then, the provolone has completely lost all its integrity.

3. Eating a too-long piece of spaghetti, not being able to swallow it, and then feeling it sliding allllll the way up my throat as I’m pulling it out.

4. Crunchy peanut butter. In high school, I once traded my turkey sandwich for my friend’s peanut butter and Fluff. We have creamy peanut butter at home, so when I bit into the sandwich and instantly crunched on something that I irrationally thought was my tooth, I was traumatized by the crunchiness of the Jiff for life. (This is sad—I used to love crunchy peanut butter!)

5. Q-tips reaching too far into my ears and touching the back of my throat. I don’t know the exact physiology, and maybe it doesn’t ACTUALLY touch the back of my throat, but it sure as heck feels like it.

6. Orange circus peanuts. Hello, gag reflex.

7. The skin that forms on top of cooling hot chocolate. When I was younger, I used to go Christmas caroling with neighbors. When we got back, the hostess always made us hot chocolate—which should be in quotation marks, because there is NOTHING hot chocolatey about heating up Turkey Hill 2% lowfat chocolate milk in a saucepan over the stove. Not only is the flavor just off, but if you leave your cup alone for .02 seconds, this skin develops over the surface that you have to peel up and put on the edge of your cup. Ew.

8. The word “moist.”

9. Congealed oatmeal. Just today, I made myself oatmeal and got distracted and forgot to eat it. When I returned to the once-steaming, delicious bowl of Splenda-and-cinnamon hearty goodness, I saw that it became a cold, Splenda-and-cinnamon bowl of jellied oats and water. The surface of oatmeal shouldn’t bounce when you lightly touch it with your spoon, right? Growing up with the “don’t waste ANY food!” mentality, I braved one slithery, slippery bite of oatmeal (that had no business being called “oatmeal”)—and no more.

10. The water in the cottage cheese container before I stir it. Sure, it stirs up in 2 seconds so I don’t have too long of grossed out-ness, but that slightly-off color liquid in the middle of the container really just makes me wonder…what, exactly, am I eating?

11. The feeling of falling off the bed when I’m going to sleep. I realize it’s some kind of scientific, explainable thing, but I just hate it.

12. The rubbery yet hard cartilage nub that catches me completely off guard when eating chicken. It just bounces between one’s teeth in such an undesirable way. (Note: I don’t think this should be considered “inexplicable,” because I really don’t know if anyone would NOT be grossed out by that.)

13. The stringy things on the roof of my mouth when I burn it on a hot piece of pizza. (Yes, you all know what I’m talking about.)

14. Getting a paper cut on the tip of my finger. The paper cut itself isn’t what bothers me—it’s the process of actually feeling the edge of the paper slicing through the top layer of my skin that just sends chills through my body.

15. Accidentally swallowing my cough drop.

Friday, January 7, 2011

"I was woken up this morning by the massive sound of everyone dropping their new year's resolutions" --David Spade

Every New Year, I make the same resolutions. Lose weight, bring up my GPA, and read more books. And every year, they're broken by Week 1. This year, I decided to go with resolutions that may be more easily feasible.

Ingrid's 2011 New Year's Resolutions

1. Don’t drop anything in the toilet.
2. Learn something other than a bad karaoke version of “I Will Always Love You” with which to serenade my roommates while in the shower.
3. Try to limit my shoe shopping to just one pair of hot pink heels.
4. Stop gorging on pokey sticks, pizza, Chinese takeout and Ben and Jerry’s every weekend with the justification that “calories don’t count on weekends.” My skinny jeans are now telling me “yeah, they do.”
5. Broaden my horizons in the kitchen—and stop considering “adding an egg to the Ramen Noodles” to be sophisticated cooking.
6. If I’m going to take the bus, it has to be for longer than just one stop. Unless it’s raining. Or snowing. Or exceptionally cold, windy, cloudy, or anything other than 70-degree sunny skies.
7. Stop using the excuse of “having a good hair day” for not going to the gym.
8. Change my sheets.