Sunday, September 20, 2009

Why Can't We be Friends?; or, Refuse to be Defined by the Owl Table.

I was having a normally pathetic day at home the other day … sitting alone, alternately petting my cats and yelling at them like a harassed mother of twin toddlers, “stop fighting right now you two!” as if they could understand – much less give a damn – what I was saying, and longing desperately for some sort of social interaction with actual people – you know the kind of I’m talking about, the mythical type of people who aren’t 3 inches tell and don’t live in the box in your living room, the almost-imaginary kind who actually talk back, answer questions and carry on a conversation with you – I hear they exist, although I’m not entirely sure where to find them … and I couldn’t help but wonder, “when did it become so bloody hard to make friends?!”
Believe it or not, I used to be really good at making friends. Anywhere I’d go, if there was another kid within 5 years of my age we’d be planning our first slumber party while I caught them up on my most recent imaginary world so they could join in the magical goodness before my parents even had the time to turn around and wonder where I’d gotten myself off to. “Social butterfly” was written on my progress reports from school on an abnormally frequent basis, as were the observations like, “Emily has a very gregarious personality … [nice enough] … which can be really distracting to the other students during class time [there goes the nice].”
I met my childhood best friend the first day of kindergarten. I had just moved to town and was in the afternoon class (none of this crazy full-day kindergarten for me!). I sat at the owl table, which I really disappointed about at first because I had really wanted to sit at the kitty-cat table, but it was all full – as was the bunny table and the squirrel table … actually, every table except the owl table was totally full and what 5-year-old in their right mind wants to sit at the bloody owl table?! Yes, I was definitely disappointed by the owl – I felt dorky, un-liked, nerdy. But, like I said, I made friends easily and refused to let the owl table define me, so I picked someone out and managed to "distract" her through a full day (which, as mentioned earlier, was really only a half day) of free time and nap time; by snack time I had already asked her, straight out, if she'd be my best friend and we were for the next 7 years (and -if you're wondering - she was not at the owl table at first, but the much cooler bunny table, until she switched with someone to be at the owl table with me - yeah, she was pretty much awesome like that). Why was it so easy then?!
It's not that I'm expecting adult to go up to each and ask if someone wants to be their best friend in-between commute time and coffee-break time, but seriously, there has to be a way for those of us adults who aren't working or in school and didn't stay best-friends with the kids we grew up with to make new friends in a non-sexual and non-super-creepy-I'm-going-to-stalk-you-if-you-reject-me kind of way! I've live in this place for a year already and have a grand total of 2 people that I do things with - one of whom I've known for most of my life - but even then it's only occasionally. It's not that I want someone that I can see every minute of every day - remember, I said NON-creep - but someone I can randomly call up and go to coffee with or to whom I can bitch about my day would be nice. There are so many social mores that must be followed now as an adult, rules for social conduct of which I am hyper-aware and deathly afraid of breaking, but it's more than that. Everyone is so busy, so independent and disconnected from each other, and it seems that the more of these things we are (busy, independent, disconnected) the more we're admired and thought to be 'contributing to society' ... when did having friends go out of style, and dear god, where did the social butterfly who refused to be the friendless, dorky kid at the owl table go?

Monday, September 14, 2009

Living with Teenage-Hormonal-Fluctuation-Syndrome; or, How Petting Kitties and Walking Puppies Will Help Me Overcome THFS

Wow - I've actually been away for awhile; not away, away - of course, god knows I don't have the money to go "away, away" - but away from the blog-o-sphere.  It's not that I didn't have anything to say - I always have something to say - or not even that I couldn't think of interesting topics.  The cold, hard reality is that I didn't have the bloody motivation to turn on my damn computer and organize my thoughts into some form of coherency.  You see, I live in waves - waves of total lack of motivation and therefore complete inaction and stagnation alternating with waves of hyper-motivation, overachieving and uber-giddiness due to my inability to sleep because I'm too busy saving the world and making it prettier at the same time.  I know what you're thinking, I had doctors question whether or not I had bipolar as well, but after years of therapy, they discovered it was actually something much more terrifying: teenage-hormonal-fluctuation-syndrome.   This is, apparently, an unfortunate misnomer, as teenage-hormonal-fluctuation-syndrome, or THFS, is not confined to the teenaged-years of life.  No, oh no my illustrious friends and faithful followers, THFS has continued to haunt me well into my adult life and shows no sign of letting up. 

I do believe I have found a major trigger for THFS, however: lack of purpose.  Back in the good ol' days - you know, about 5 months ago, when I still had a job! - my life was filled with purpose and, therefore, my THFS was thoroughly under control.  I had a reason to get out of bed and leave the house; by the end of the day I was so emotionally and physically exhausted that THFS simply didn't have the energy to rear it's ugly head.  Currently my great get-out-of-bed motivators are: "the sooner you get up the sooner they will stop meowing in your face and stepping on your overly-full bladder," and  "I think I'm kinda hungry."  My reasons for getting dressed and leaving the house consist of needing to transfer more money from savings into checking and the book I reserved at the library is finally in; although the transferring money thing happens a hell of a lot more often than I like to think about, neither event is frequent enough to get me out of the house more than once a week.  So, besides the occasional 4-hour online application that decides to not save even though I hit the save button a million and a half times and the subsequent 2 hours spent on the phone with various IT departments trying to recover the application and procure the supplemental materials needed for a 19-hour/week job that I probably won't get anyway, I have very little purpose in my life currently.  Sure, I'm doing art again, which is actually really exciting, but there are only so many hours out of the day that you can individually place tiny beads before you go insane.  Naturally, in my current situation, I am dealing with frustrating waves of THFS on a daily basis!  I decided last week that this must be rectified, and then lost of the motivation to do anything about it until today!  Yay for the hyper-motivated, overachieving, uber-giddiness wave!  

So, purpose.  How does one create purpose in their life when they have an entire year to kill before they go back to school?  I see a couple of possibilities.  One, get ready for school.  I registered for my GRE.  It will be in late October so I have time to study but if I suck it up I can re-take it in November before my first applications are due in December, and I have a GRE study book on reserve at the library.  I've also inputed all the application procedures and dates in a spread sheet with projected "done by" dates.  I haven't actually started working on any of the applications or studying for the GRE, but it's all ready to go!  This "purpose" doesn't actually get me out of the house, however, which is why I've come up with purpose number two: animals.  I really like animals ... a lot; I don't, however, need more animals at home.  The best solution to my petting-cute-puppies-kitties-and-bunnies need while not bringing them home to live with me seems to be volunteering at an animal shelter!  I've downloaded the application and signed up for the volunteer training - also in October, as that was their earliest available date.  I've indicated an interest in dog-walking, kitty-petting and small-animal-socializing.  I am actually ridiculously excited about this!  Thirdly, I've decided that I need a solid medium-term goal for myself as school is ultimately long-term and animal volunteer will be accomplished in the short-term.  Official medium-term goal and third giving-purpose-to-my-unemployed-self is: hiking the Oregon section of the Pacific Crest Trail.  Now, I know I've mentioned this before, but it's a little more developed in my head.  Next summer, mid-July to mid-August, I will be hiking 460-ish miles across the state of Oregon.  Until that time, I will also be blogging about my training: where we hike, product reviews, difficulties and successes ... (oh yes my dear friends, for those of you who simply can't enough of reading about my life to make you feel better about yours, you will soon have a NEW outlet!  I'm creating a new blog to chronicle my training!  I will post the link as soon as it's created!)  This last one seemed like a good mid-term goal that will also force me outside (as you can't train very well inside the house, or more specifically you can, but your neighbors will look at you funny when you go up and down the stairs to the basement 150 times with a 40 pack on your back ... I don't actually know this from experience, but I'm guessing it's probably true) and give me something to do on a semi-regular basis in the form of updating my blog.  Don't worry though, this blog isn't going away; I definitely still need a place to rant, rave and expose all my embarassing social faux pas. 

So there you have it: my reason for being so silent the last few weeks, and my new ambitious plan to overcome the all-but-completely-debilitating, if misnomered, condition of teenage-hormonal-fluctuation-syndrome.