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The Fluther interview: DominicX

5:07 am

One of the appeals of Fluther is the chance to share and compare viewpoints across a broad spectrum of people. Our members come from many different countries, have diverse life experiences, and range in age from small fry (or, you know, teenagers) to denizens of the deep (some might call them senior citizens. Not us, though. We know better.)

One of those diverse points of view comes from Dominic (aka DominicX), a young man with a wise voice all his own. We asked him to share a little more of it with us, and he happily obliged.

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As one of our younger members, you’ve spoken out against ageism a few times. Just for the record, how old are you?

I turned 19 in August. When I joined Fluther, I was 17.

In what ways do you experience ageism in your ‘real’ life and in the virtual world?

Well, to be honest, I’ll admit that, shockingly enough, once I turned 18, the amount of ageism I experienced went down dramatically. But throughout my time on Q&A sites, I’d have people doubt my ability to argue or understand what I was talking about on the basis of my age alone rather than the content of what I was writing. I hated not being taken seriously when I probably would have been had I lied about my age. Disappointing, but at least I encountered it less often in in real life (and when I did, it was more a general anti-teenage attitude from some adults that I encountered).

How can younger and older folks work together to overcome it?

The best way is to recognize that sometimes, age will affect your perspective. But both the younger and the older folks need to realize that both perspectives are worth hearing and what really matters is the content of what you’re saying, not how old the speaker is.

Please tell us a little about your family and your significant other.

I have three siblings, including two younger brothers and one older sister. My sister goes to UCLA, my brothers are still in high school, though my oldest younger brother will be graduating soon and off to college. My parents are excellent, they’ve always been supportive, and I’m very lucky to have the family that I do. Oh, and I have three cats.

I’ve been with my SO for over a year now. He and I go to different colleges and are essentially in a long-distance relationship. But we have been doing great and I really do love him. He and I are incredibly similar in our interests and attitudes, I’ve never felt more “in place” with a person. I intend for this to last as long as possible.

You’ve lived in Vegas and California… which do you prefer?

I’ll always be a Nevada native at heart, but I prefer California because really, Las Vegas is desert and that’s all you get. In California, there’s so much more variety — in the geography and the cities and towns and people. California is like a mini-country within a country and I love it.

I understand that you’ve traveled quite a bit. What are a few of your favorite destinations?

My favorite place to travel to is Lake Tahoe on the Cal/Nev border because it’s the closest I’ve seen to a perfect place. But abroad, I loved going to Italy, beautiful country in the land and architecture, I could see living there. And of course, when I was 14, my family went to Kenya and that was the most different and one of the most interesting places I’ve ever been. That is definitely a vacation I will never forget.

We know you’re currently attending Stanford… were you a good student in high school? Are you now, in college?

Without trying to sound conceited, I can say yes, I was a very good student. I got straight A’s all through high school and middle school. I’ve been doing very well in college, although it is significantly more challenging!

What’s the best thing about going to Stanford? And the worst?

The best is that I feel at home here. It’s intellectually stimulating and an excellent environment to be in. I love knowing that I am getting a top-notch education and here I have actually found people who share my love of linguistics. And of course the friends I have here are excellent, including those I knew in high school. I’m not sure about the worst thing (I’m not exaggerating, I really love it here). I suppose the difficulty would be a slight negative. I have to put in a lot of work to do well here, but it’s well worth it.

What are your favorite and least favorite classes?

My favorite classes are linguistics classes. Classes on morphology and phonology are my favorite (syntax not so much). I also greatly enjoy history classes, including the Roman history class I’m taking now. My least favorite classes are math classes. Don’t think I’ll be taking any more of those…

Any advice for those preparing for college?

I’d tell them not to worry too much about knowing exactly what career you want. You have time to figure it out. You have time to discover what kinds of classes you like and what you don’t. There’s time to experiment. Also, don’t forget to make friends. Really. It’s important. Find people who share your interests (academic is a place to start)! Trust me, it was so excellent finding out there are other people out there who are just as into linguistics as I am.

Speaking of your love of  linguistics, how did language first capture your interest?

I really think my interest in language started when I was around 10 or so and I discovered the classical work “Carmina Burana” by Carl Orff. I was fascinated by the Latin words, the way they sounded, and the fact that it was an ancient language that no one spoke anymore. That made me want to learn Latin and after that, I became interested in all languages and I’ve been hooked on linguistics ever since. Now I’m majoring in it.

What career paths are available to linguistics majors?

Linguistics majors often go into education to become teachers or professors, some work as translators or interpreters, there’s work with computers, publishing, lexicography, even government jobs.

Which one do you envision for yourself?

To be honest, at the moment I am not quite sure what career path I want to take, but becoming a teacher or professor (specifically of Latin) sounds enticing to me. It’s definitely a possibility, but I have no concrete idea of what I will do.

Of all the questions you’ve asked on Fluther, which is your favorite? Why?

My favorite question that I’ve asked has to be Are you interested in anything you don’t particularly believe in? It might not have generated a huge discussion or anything, but to me it’s such an interesting and unusual thing to think about and shows that we don’t just stick to our own little worlds of beliefs and familiarity and we are often willing to look outside.

And your favorite asked by someone else?

It’s hard to say, but one I liked was What are some advantages seldom noticed that women in American society have that men do not? Again, it’s just another question that causes people to think about something that isn’t usually thought about. I loved reading the answers in that one (and its similar counterpart).

When you’re not studying or Fluthering, what else fills your days?

All kinds of things. Sometimes I’m reading a novel, sometimes I’m writing a novel (I like to write mystery/horror stories), other times I’ll be listening to classical music, mountain biking, partying, taking photos and editing them, playing music on the piano, working on my constructed language, or just reading about a random curiosity on Wikipedia.

You’re constructing a language? That’s pretty intriguing. Can you give us a sample sentence, and its English translation?

I am, although I haven’t done a whole lot of work on it. I’ve tried, but then I learn something new in a linguistics class that changes the way I think about it, so I’ve been waiting until I’ve completed more linguistics courses before I decide to really go ahead with making this language. But I do have some of the basics down. It’s called “Occorian”, it’s pronounced exactly the way it’s spelled and it’s a highly inflected language. A sample Occorian sentence that I can create would be something like: “Selathi gabrin Okor-nina; ve gabra?” which means “I learned to speak Occorian; do you speak it?” That’s about all I can do with what I’ve created so far (which is not much!)

Do you have any pet causes?

Gay rights and LGBT issues are my most important causes. That includes not only gay marriage, but also the end to anti-gay discrimination and bullying. It’s always going to be one of my most important causes. I haven’t done enough activism in my life, but I intend to.

You’ve been out as a gay man for some time now. What was your coming out experience like?

My coming out experience was actually pretty positive. When I came out to my friends, they couldn’t have taken it better. I was surprised by how many of them didn’t know and hadn’t even guessed, but their reactions were all positive. By the time I came out to my parents a month later, they were practically begging me to tell them since they already had a pretty good idea that I was. I found it easy to come out to my parents because they had already told me a while before that they were okay with having gay or even transgendered children. I guess that’s part of growing up in a place like the Bay Area (California).

Any advice for those still struggling to reach that point?

I’d tell them that coming out is an incredibly liberating experience. There’s no more hiding, no more lying, no more avoiding…it can all be talked about once that point comes. To reach it, I’d try to first find out what kinds of reactions friends and family might have. Bring up gay marriage or something and see what their opinions are.

As someone embarking on an adult life, what do you see as the biggest problems facing the world today? Have your opinions on these issues changed as you’ve gotten older?

I see the problems with the environment as being the biggest, along with ongoing wars, and of course any existent discrimination. Nothing has really changed for me, I’ve always focused on those issues and my opinions may have changed in that they’ve been clarified and become more focused, but the core opinion has remained the same.

What do you think we can do about these problems?

Oh boy, that’s a toughie. For starters, we can look toward alternative energy sources, we can stop acting like the earth is ours to trash, we can realize that nuclear weapons are not a solution (oh boy, I am sounding like a hippie now), and we can furthermore realize that we’re all human and none of us deserve to be treated like second class citizens on the basis of something like sexual orientation.

What does your ideal personal future look like?

My idyllic vision of my future involves being settled down in a house with a man I love and perhaps having kids. Not sure what job I would have, but I do know that I want enough time to travel around the world.

Is there anything else you’d like us to know about you? Anything I didn’t ask that you wish I had?

Well, there’s a few quirky things, such as my synesthesia (I see all single-digit numbers as having inherent color) and my memorization of things like the periodic table of elements, countries and capitals, and even prime numbers. I told these things to my math class in 12th grade and got a few “wow”s from the audience.

What’s it like to have synesthesia? Do you think it helps or hinders you in any way? Maybe that’s why you don’t like math!

Having synesthesia can be fun because so many people don’t know what it is and I always get to explain it to them and wow them. Although my form of synesthesia, called “grapheme” is not too interesting. I just picture the single digit numbers as having inherent color. 3 is blue, 5 is purple, 7 is green, 8 is yellow, etc. People always ask me if seeing numbers as colored in my mind helps in math, but it doesn’t really. It doesn’t help or hinder me. It’s just an extra weird thing about me.

Well, we certainly appreciate your sharing a bit of yourself with us, “weird things” and all. Thanks, Dominic!