Monday, February 27, 2006

Sidewalk Theorizing

The Stanford Daily was advertising for a graduate student to write an opinion column. I read the sign hanging in my dorm hallway everyday, but I didn't do anything about it until three days after the official deadline. Alas, the spot was filled. I'm okay.

Below: A description of my column idea and a list of column ideas. These are all theories I've created over the past few years, as many of you can attest. I didn't realize I was a theori(zer/st) until one day at a dinner party, a former roommate in Austin said, "Sarah, tell us one of your theories." And I realized, "Wait--I have theories." And la, here there are.

I have theories about things. Not eery, sci-fi, conspiracy theories. But theories about how we live, how we interact, and maybe how we should or could think about the world. I find them helpful, and I try to operationalize them. Each column would probably present a theory that I’ve developed over the past few years (and from, you know, last week), weaving these theories out of my experiences and into potentially helpful, illuminating, controversial, or entertaining expositions.

Sidewalk Theories
At some point, we each become sentient. It’s then that the work begins. (An introductory/explanatory column about the column theme as a whole and the value of sidewalk theorizing. Possibly, a short history of my brain and its tendencies to theorize about daily living. I probably wouldn’t have it be the first column, though.)

The Airport Parking Model of Happiness

There are at least three levels of human emotion: long-term parking, short-term parking, and departures and arrivals.

The Mickey Mouse Head Model of Two-person Relationships

Imagine a simplified, three-circle version of Mickey Mouse’s head: that’s one of your relationships. And it’s not going well.

The Theory of Reciprocal Communication

She could call you. She could text you. She could email you. She could, I suppose, write you a letter. Or she could wait until she casually runs into you at Tres Ex. The question is: how are you going to respond?

The Advisable Double Standard AKA The Tennis Ball Model of Happy Living

There’s a double standard that we should live. Turns out, it’s not in our favor.

The “Just Say That” Theory of Honest Communication

When people come to me, not knowing what to say to so-and-so-and-so, because “it’s complicated,” I usually have one piece of advice: just say that.

The Wet Jell-o Theory of Human Imperfection

Our parents will scar us. We will scar our children. The point is: do as little damage as you can. (This column will mention jell-o.)

The “Third Time’s the Charm” Test of True Friendship

If you won’t say a thing or make a noise three times in a row at a friend’s request, you’re not really friends. You two have issues.

The “Walt Disney and a Big Gun" Theory of Big Dreaming and Career Happiness

To find a career and a meaningful life goal, maybe all you need is Walt Disney and a gun. A theoretical gun.

Decision-making in Pairs: A Theory that Could Revolutionize Your Dinner Plans

Finally, a way to decide where to eat or whether or not to go see that movie. Caution: some math involved.

Sage Advice from Past Loves

“Loves” may be stretching the point. But I’ve dated some smart men. And they’ve said some sage things.

Other people’s theories

I assume that other people have theories, too. This would be a column to explore them.

And to incorporate a Limon style of blogging, I will ask: do you have theories? What are they? Post them below in no less than four lines. Be sure to include a name (for the theory) and a description. Happy theorizing! (Note/caution: I've begun to use exclamation points. I know, I know--I vowed I never would. But (a) I'm trying to avoid saying "I refuse to blank" in my head and (b) it's about societal norms. Exclamation points make people feel good: another theory.)