Category Archives: Random Nonsense

xfiles

Artificial Unintelligence

When we first moved to the sticks, E travelled a lot. Like weeks at a time.  Back then in ancient history, things like cable and cell service weren’t part of our requirements for finding a suitable location to live. Hell, we didn’t even see what school district our property was in. KIDS, MAKE SURE YOU KNOW THESE THINGS BEFORE YOU BUY A HOUSE.

As a result of our stupidity, we now live in a dead zone. A deep dead zone. Like when I call the internet and phone people and demand that they get their asses in gear and provide service to my area, they laugh and quote me timeframes in the decades.

So since E was gone all the time and I was freaked out being alone, as I was still a child, for Christmas that year, E got me a Husky puppy for protection and satellite cable for boredom. When the guys came to install the dish, of course E was gone on a trip. The main guy knocked on our door and I answered it holding a butcher knife and the dog, because that’s what you do when you’re 22 and all alone in a house in Siberia. Kind of like how when E was gone I slept with the cordless phone under my pillow and the knife between the mattress until E called me really late one night when he was at Mardi Gras and I lunged for the phone in my sleeping stupor and grabbed the knife instead. That was unfortunate. And messy.

I’m pretty sure holding a knife didn’t start things off well because the guy asked if my mom or dad was home and I got confused and had to process the query for a while because why would my mom or dad be there? Did I invite them over and forget? Was this a visitor of theirs? If I answered yes, then what would he ask? If I answered no would he murder me? I mean I saw Scream, I wasn’t going to fall for stupid tricks without a fight.

So I flipped my permed giant bangs and rolled my eyes and was all “Uh, dur, I’m the homeowner, gahhhh. Also my 4 month old puppy is trained to kill and I give commands in German, so…..” And then the puppy licked the guy on the face. Ich liebe dich!

He and his cohort set up their gear and started working on the outside of the house and I hid behind the blinds and tried to watch from inside to make sure they weren’t burglars or something, while the puppy scratched at the door the whole time to go outside. I finally let her out and got distracted with the book I was reading when the guy knocked on the door again. Luckily my knife was still handy so I opened the door a crack and he told me his dumbass partner had fallen off our house and landed on the puppy. Listen, I get very frustrated by inconvenience and I was already pretty put out by the fact that I had to talk to a strange potential murderer already that day, but to fall off my house onto my dog? I didn’t even know what to do with that information. Like, was that some sort of ploy to lure me outside? Couldn’t they just get in their creepy van and offer me free candy instead? It just seemed so inefficient to add puppy battery to their purported crime spree.

Thankfully everything turned out okay and I was very excited to finally catch up on Melrose Place since I had pretty much missed the whole season and it was going to be very confusing now to figure out who was sleeping with who. That night I tuned in at the correct time to watch and instead of seeing Heather Locklear engaged in a bitchy battle of wits with Daphne Zuniga, I got some weird show with aliens.

That’s right you guessed it. The X-Files.

Mind. Blown.

Guys, the truth is out there.

I’m sure you’re thinking “Yeah, whatever, The X-Files was awesome sauce, we all know that. Don’t think you’re special just because you liked it.”

Uh. But did you like it so much that you actually switched your college major so that you could become the real life Dana Scully?

I didn’t think so, losers.

Did you tour the FBI building in Washington, D.C. so that you could mentally pick out your future office?

That’s what I thought.

Did you record all 202 episodes and then lay on your couch for 48 hours straight on multiple occasions for X-Files marathon weekends?

I highly doubt you have the stamina for such an endeavor.

Did you purchase and proudly wear a black X-Files baseball cap everywhere you went for more years than it was socially acceptable to do so?

Extremely unlikely you could be as cool as THAT.

Did every conversation you participated in during that time conclude with a chilling premonition about artificial impregnation?

*If anyone answers yes to this question, please private message me, we have lots to discuss.*

Did you bob your hair and wear black blazers with shoulder pads and crisp white button down shirts to work as your standard attire for a few years so that you would be accustomed to the proper FBI uniform?

Uh huh, nice try dummies. I win.

The hardest part wasn’t becoming a chemistry major, it was getting to chemistry classes in the middle of the day when I already had an established and demanding career in the real estate professional services industry. And to be honest, forensic pathology and real estate don’t have a common thread (weird!), so it was difficult to reconcile my day job with my educational goals.

Even though I was still in my 20’s, I was by far the oldest person in those classes. And to top it off I was always rushing in late in my high heels and make-up, dressed like I’d just walked out of the board room. I was an anomaly. I loved it.

And obviously I’m smart, duh, but chemistry was really something that I was quite naturally gifted at. And I say that with humility because while I could balance a chemical equation like no one’s business and rattle off the molecular weight of compounds in my sleep, I had no effing idea what that meant in reality. I was setting the curve on all the tests but I had absolutely zero concept of what my answers meant. It really pissed off the people who really understood chemistry and didn’t see it as a fun math game to ace.  A couple bratty boys in class nicknamed me “Lipstick Lissine” (a play on lysine, which as everyone knows is a naturally occurring amino acid with an amine group on its side chain.)  This clearly was meant to convey that I was a weirdo in retaliation for not letting them cheat off my homework or give them my notes when they skipped class. They’re probably both super fancy chemists now and feel bad that someone cool like me isn’t working alongside them which is revenge enough in my book, so suck it, nerd science guys.

Naturally I bombed in the lab. Actually a more appropriate description would be I bombed the lab. No one would be my partner because I was always running to the safety wash station and spilling dangerous mixtures everywhere and cutting myself on beakers that seemed to smash to bits just by my mere presence. And I could not for the life of me understand what all the lab work meant or how it pertained in any way to finding aliens or looking good running in heels with a gun.

Eventually it just got too hard to maintain the class load during the workday and I wasn’t willing to stop working so I had to switch to a business major so I could go to school at night. When I went to my advisor to sign-off on the transfer slip, I thought he might actually cry. I got the usual lecture on how dependable and conscientious a student I was and they would be so sorry to see me go, other than the lab costs for the next year would certainly be lower. And that I was wasting a gift. I tried to explain the gift was useless because I would never understand how to apply the fun challenge of numbers and letters on paper to the mysteries of unsolved crime and extraterrestrial life on earth. He frowned and acted confused, but I naturally assumed it was a cover and we were thinking the same thing: Deep Throat and The Cigarette Smoking Man have all the answers.

Between the failed chemistry and Russian language majors (I’ll leave that one for another story time), clearly I should be working at the Pentagon by now. And while they haven’t returned any of my calls or letters that I write them out of cut up pieces of magazine and newspaper scraps, I’m sure a job offer is imminent. Perhaps my grace, wit, intelligence and incredible sleuth skills are too intimidating. I understand. It’s why I have to dumb myself down so much into looking like a clumsy, ignorant, confused soccer mom. I think my elaborate ruse is working.  I want to believe.

 

Ransom

 

ufo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

hammer

Guillain Barre is Not My French Lover

Originally I started blogging because it felt like a good outlet for the stories that don’t come out of my mouth right.  I’m not just talking about the thoughts imprisoned in my head.  I’m also a terrible verbal communicator because there is a disconnect between thinking and speaking for me and the inputs don’t always equal the outputs. My brain is actually dysfunctional, guys. I mean, I don’t have a doctor’s note confirming it, but I think the proof is pretty clear when I go to say something and frequently what comes out is a bunch of gibberish.

E:  Wanna go to dinner?

A: Lovamsh shmu hydiderdad.

E: Sweet, I love sushi.

This problem exacerbated itself when a local restaurant tried to kill me and my body became a traitor and was all “NICE TRY UPSCALE RESTAURANT THAT BUYS MEXICAN LETTUCE COVERED IN FECES, BUT WE’LL TAKE IT FROM HERE,” and then proceeded to declare biological warfare on my neurological system over the course of a couple weeks until I could no longer walk or feel anything and as a result started acting like Courtney Love at, well, any event.

This is my story about some of that.

If you don’t like poop humor, now is your chance to exit.

Hey, you’ve been warned.

Did you know that people who appreciate bodily function humor are on the low end of the chart in adult developmental theory?

That means, like, really immature.

I learned that in graduate school.

Which obviously means I am NOT immature.

But that doesn’t explain you, so grow up already, geez.

Here we go.

One day in May about 11 years ago I was at work, minding my own business, when out of nowhere a diarrhea tornado invaded my body. At first I was like, WHOA, body, get your shit together. LITERALLY.

Things progressed to a level such that it was necessary for me to leave for the day. By the time E got home, later that night, I was laying on the kitchen floor covered in blankets, soaked with sweat, and with no recollection how I had gotten there.

Eventually it was determined that I should probably go to an urgent care because I was dehydrated and delirious. The first trip, they sent me home with a disapproving look that conveyed I was wasting their valuable time when clearly there were more important illnesses waiting in the lobby to be treated than a flu bug.

The second time I went, they told me I needed to drink more fluids.

The third time I went, I explained that I was about twelve days into it and had lost fifteen pounds. And that when I got out of bed that morning I crashed flat on my face and it took me ten minutes to get my legs to sort of cooperate by half stumbling half lurching to get where I needed to go. They took me a little more seriously and gave me an IV to treat the dehydration and told me to come back if I wasn’t better. Two days later I went back and they began asking questions, ran a couple tests, and told me to follow up with my normal doctor the next week.

The Centers for Disease Control then entered the picture because as luck would have it, the tests pointed to a kind of food poisoning that only exists in third-world countries, so urgent care legally had to report it and then the government got all nosy about it and had to try to figure out how it got here and if anyone else was affected. We will not be discussing how they obtained their samples to test for the food poisoning. WE WILL NEVER SPEAK OF IT, UNDERSTAND? All I’ll say about that is that whenever I see small cups with lids or brown lunch sacks, I feel a little fainty.

During the investigation period before they determined the source of the outbreak, I had to have an interview with the head doctor at the CDC.

CDC: Hi Alissa, we are so sorry you aren’t feeling well and can’t walk and are basically going completely paralyzed and could end up on a ventilator because your lungs will stop functioning on their own before we can get this under control, but we need to ask you some questions.

A: Shoimokay!

CDC: Well, we need detail regarding every meal you ate the week prior to getting sick, including the contents of your refrigerator and where you purchase your groceries.

A: HAHAHAHA! Groceries. That’s funny. I have creamer and a couple carrots from 1998 in my fridge. But the carrots are mostly a science experiment for my children. SHOULD I CHOOSE TO HAVE CHILDREN SOMEDAY.

CDC: Uh, okay, could you tell me, starting with that Monday, what you ate?

And then I died a little more inside and started shaking and turned red and blotchy, because, oh Lord, this was going to be embarrassing.

Why you ask? This was during a particularly ridiculous time in real estate where it was not at all unusual to work from 6:00 in the morning to well after midnight, so grocery shopping or eating anything healthy was not optional. And now I was going to have to confess to what I’d been eating, and it was beyond shameful.

A: Uhhhm. Well, Monday it was Starbuck’s and Wendy’s. And, uh, gas station for dinner. Tuesday was Starbuck’s, gas station, Taco Time. Wednesday, McDonald’s, Wendy’s, gas station. Thursday, pretty sure I didn’t eat at all, wait, nope, not true, someone at work had a birthday so I ate cake, well really just frosting, but whatever. Friday the office ordered pizza and then I finished off that cake. I actually hate cake. Wait. Do you think cake did this to me? Because so help me, I will CUT that birthday bitc…

CDC: Unlikely it was cake. What else?

A: Listen. This is tiring. It was all Wendy’s, Taco Time, the gas station across the street from work and Starbuck’s. OOOH! Totally forgot I ate at (UPSCALE CRAP FACTORY) for a client lunch on Thursday. And hold on a minute! One of the other people I was with has been sick, but not the same, not as bad.

CDC: Thank you, we’ll get back to you shortly.

Eventually they confirmed another 10  cases of food poisoning from the same place, and the (PALACE OF POOP WE DRIVE BY AND FLIP OFF EVERY MORNING), was all “Uh, no, we didn’t do this, those ten random dirty strangers brought the sickness in here, how dare they, we’re really upset about it. Oh this bleach we’re spraying everywhere? Er, nothing, it’s just further proof of how seriously we take cleanliness around here!”

But by the time they tried to notify me of this my body had already taken things far beyond food poisoning and what the other victims were experiencing and I was at my doctor and her neurologist friend saw me right away and started telling me to get my affairs in order and asking things like if I had a living will while banging me all over my body with a hammer in a desperate attempt to find a reflex (nope) and saying it must have been awful not being able to drive for the last two weeks.

Me: Uh. Driving. About that? I can still drive right?

Dr.: YOU’VE BEEN DRIVING WITHOUT HAVING ANY FEELING IN YOUR ARMS AND LEGS AND NO MOTOR REFLEXES?

Me: Well don’t get all bent out of shape about it, it’s not like I’m gonna hurt myself, I mean DUUUHHH, I’m dying anyway.

Dr.: Under no circumstances are you to be driving. Please call your spouse to come pick you up and take you to the hospital where we are going to admit you to the stroke ward and start an aggressive treatment of IVIG after we get some spinal fluid from you.

Me: *stink eye* FINE.

And then slowly and only by leaning against the wall the whole time and with the assistance of the nurse, I went to the lobby and called E.

A: Hi, it’s me. So, fun story, probably gonna die. Could you come pick me up?

E: I’m in Omak calling on clients.

A: Shoot. No worries. Hey, meet me at the hospital in a couple hours?

And then I got in my car and drove back to work and finished up the day because, duh, people needed to buy some houses and didn’t I know the U-Haul was already in the driveway waiting and if I didn’t do my job the whole entire world would end and people would not get paid or be able to move and basically flip a lid? Which is hilarious because by that point I was just spastically throwing my body around while trying to pretend it was totally normal. For instance, my phone would ring in my office and my arm would shoot out to grab the receiver and instead it would collide with my adding machine, which would go flying off my desk.  Or, I’d try to take some copies to the copier and I’d crash into the partitions and walls and the stack of paper would end up all over the floor.

Basically I wasn’t tricking anyone and instead they had all come to the generous conclusion that I was day drinking and on a one-way train to rehab.

I don’t remember how I got to the hospital that night. Probably E came and saved the day, like usual. And once I was admitted they sent me for a spinal tap and they were acting really weird and telling me it wouldn’t hardly hurt at all and to just remain calm and I was all “DUDE. I CAN’T FEEL ANYTHING FROM THE WAIST DOWN, IT’S FINE.”

And then they got me on the table and there was some blinky imaging thing there and they told me I could watch and E was there holding my hand because he was ready to pass out from the stress, and they turned the thing on and I was all, “Hey, is that me? What’s that?” And the tech was all “That’s your spine.”

“OH MY GOD WHAT IS THAT? I HAVE WORMS? WHY IS THAT WORM IN ME? GET IT OUT, GET IT OUT, OH SWEET BABY JESUS GET THAT OUT OF ME. RIGHT. NOW!”

And then I think I lost consciousness for a second because all I remember is everyone being assholes and laughing at me, the dying person.

E: Yeah. Not a worm.

Me: THE EFF IT ISN’T! GIVE ME YOUR POCKET KNIFE I’M GONNA CUT THAT SON OF A B*TCH OUT OF ME!”

E: Calm down.

Me: Don’t tell me to calm down, you don’t have a giant worm inside you! I knew it. I knew things were going to end this way. I can’t even DIE gracefully. It’s going to be ugly and painful and awkward and gross by some woman-eating-worm thing that is disgusting and horrid. I DON’T EVEN BUY TEQUILA WITH THE WORM IN IT. WTF, E!?

E: Remember that time we went to Penticton for one of my business trips and you were bored all day by yourself?

A: Great. Now we’re reminiscing. The end must be near. Please make sure I have cute underpants on. I can’t be buried in granny panties. Promise me!

E: And I came to the hotel after being in the vendor booth all day and asked what you did?

A: Are you listening? No. Ugly. Underpants.

E: And you were acting weird and said you went for a long walk and then mumbled something and left the room really quick?

A: What the hell, E, I’M DYING. Why are you trying to start a fight?

E: And then you came back in the room and sat down and then winced and shot right back up?

A: Sure, yeah, whatever, great memory, thanks. Glad this will be the last words we ever speak to each other.

E: And you lifted your shirt up and said “Look what I did today!”

A: Uh.

E: Yeah, that worm on the screen is your belly button piercing.

And then the techs turned around and tried not to show they were hyperventilating-laughing and I vowed to take that stupid annoying thing out when my hands worked again, but for now I had to suffer in embarrassment.

They wheeled me back to my private room and brought a student nurse in to insert the IV. I wasn’t paying much attention until the other nurse came in and said not nice words to the student nurse and grabbed the equipment out of her hand. She had stabbed me so many time trying to hit a vein my arm was a complete mess, but I hadn’t really felt any of it.

Then they told me a new doctor would be in shortly to do some mechanical tests on my legs. I freaked out and told E he had to go to the gift shop right away. He was so confused and disoriented by everything happening so fast, he just looked at me blankly. I whispered that he needed to go buy a razor. He looked frightened so I told him I hadn’t shaved my legs for a long time because I couldn’t get my hands and arms to cooperate and I would jump out the hospital window if he didn’t help me try to fix the situation. He shrugged and left to see what he could find.

In the meantime the good nurse came back in and said she’d be giving me Benadryl by IV because of the potential for allergic reaction from the IVIG treatment (pooled, polyvalent, IgG antibodies extracted from the plasma of over one thousand blood donors). I said okay just as E came back from his reconnaissance mission with (I kid you not) a Spanish language version of People magazine and a Coke. No razor. I barely had time to register my anger over no razor and the fact that I don’t speak Spanish when the Benadryl shot straight into my arm and I slurred half a sentence and fell asleep.

I don’t remember a lot about being in the hospital except it seemed really long and boring. I bought a bunch of stuff off the Home Shopping Network because reading was too taxing for my brain still, so all I could do was lay there and stare out the window or watch television. And being there was weird because the stroke ward had all old people on it and the nurses had trouble hiding how sad they were that such a young person was on their floor. One of them said I was the first case of Guillain Barre they’d seen in eleven years. And I had to have a physical therapist come every day to help me with walking again once the treatment started improving my condition. After I was released, I used a cane to walk (at the ripe old age of 30) for a while.

Not many people have even heard of Guillain Barre, although some guy that does the sport with the ball (soccer? hockey? synchronized swimming?) recently had it and was on the news.

My situation was far, far, FAR from bad comparative to other people who’ve had GBS. Some are in the hospital for a year or more and never lead a normal life again. I was incredibly lucky that my GP figured it out in one visit. I’m still the only case she’s ever diagnosed. That’s pretty amazing to me, I’m blessed.

Now it seems so long ago, except when I’m stressed, or it’s cold out. Then some of the lingering side-effects are quite noticeable, but still completely manageable. If you see me and I’m cold or stressed and really slurring my words and tripping over everything, know that I generally do that anyway, it’s just a smidge more pronounced in those conditions. Or I’m drunk. Probably drunk. Let’s go with drunk.

In the end, I think we can all agree that this is not a story about (TURDS R US) trying to kill me and never once apologizing or taking any responsibility for their actions. This is an inspirational story about a girl and her trusty car. A girl, who crashes every car, all the time, every time. Except this time. This time, even though it was statistically impossible NOT to crash my car, I didn’t. Because I don’t think so universe, you can’t boss me around.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ornament

An Introvert’s Guide To Holiday Social Functions

Isn’t it the most magical time of the year? Ooops, I was daydreaming about National Library Week again, my bad. It’s the most terrible time of the year, duh!  Obviously I’m talking about all of the necessary social functions. And by necessary, I mean necessary torture.  You know, like when you kiss your crush in 7th grade while playing Truth or Dare, and then follow it up by punching him in the stomach because ewww, feelings.

Somehow on top of being shy and introverted, I’m also blessed with having one of the most severe cases of FOMO you’ll ever witness. My friend Tara T. has it too, so I know it’s real. Except she’s extroverted and actually fun to be around. I have no idea how I came to be cursed with both sides of the spectrum. The only plausible explanation is that I’m schizophrenic – one personality likes to be a part of the action while the other likes to hide in closets.  This worked out well in the 90’s because I mostly just hung out in dark clubs dancing by myself in front of a mirror and impressing myself with my awkwardness, but is frankly little help in today’s fast-paced world of business and general adulthood. Anyway, my mental health advocate, psychologytoday.com, assures me I’m normal-ish. Okay, normal with a side of  neurosis. And a smidgeon of S.A.D. (Guys, as an overachiever I’ve really nailed this. I’m sad and SAD, clearly crushing lower AND upper case disorders!) Which explains why people are lined up to be my friend. Imaginary friends, but that totally counts.

Most of the year, it’s easy for an introvert to stay balanced because social functions are spread out with plenty of down time in-between to heal from the overstimulation. But then December comes along and it is impossible to stabilize, so you spend a month either drinking, crying, or running naked through the Quad. I still haven’t actually found the elusive Quad, but my running pace has increased exponentially, proving that Will Ferrell really has his shit together.

Extroverts seldom understand the massive amount of energy suckage that occurs  when introverts are repeatedly put in social situations without rest. Exhaustion doesn’t even come close to describing it. It’s more like a piece of your soul has disappeared.  And the rest of your being is desperately searching for it, but at the same time a clown with a chain saw is running straight at you. Also your feet are in quicksand and you are in front of a packed arena in your underwear – and they are tighty whities.  And your professor from Calculus II just showed up with a pop quiz that covers material he never went over. And the noise and all the sights are taking over your ability to think straight so you end up in conversations with distant acquaintances without a polite escape and then end up saying something monumentally ignorant and nonsensical.

Other than THAT, it’s not that we absolutely hate it, but we’re not at our best like we could be if we were one-on-one with someone or even in a small group, talking about things that inspire and intrigue us. A room full of people for an introvert is constant neural overload. Our brains are pinging back and forth all over the place because they are taking in so much data and trying to convert it into something meaningful, but we are always one step behind in our analysis. We end up like a computer with 100 internet tabs open all at once. There is no way to keep up, so we crash. Hard.

Unfortunately, the crashing usually occurs when we are with the ones we love, which makes being around family during the holidays such a train wreck. Your father-in-law will politely ask if you’ve been doing any holiday baking and all of a sudden you are shouting “SO WHAT YOU’RE SAYING IS I LOOK LIKE  A GOD DAMN HIPPOPOTAMUS!” Then your eye twitches, you gasp for breath, down a bottle of cheap Chardonnay and cry quietly in the corner for the rest of the visit. I’m not saying this has ever happened to me. I’m not saying it hasn’t either.

In the interest of keeping the extroverts of the world informed about how hard the holidays are, I’ve come up with a guide that I think you’ll find helpful. At least when you witness a similar scenario, you will recognize that there is an introvert on the scene, and maybe, if you are extra nice, you’ll do something to make them feel more comfortable. Support that is never, under any circumstance allowed includes anything that involves physical touch or personal questions. Awkward silence is okay though. I know, the rules are confusing. We find you terrifying as well.

A Guide To Holiday Introvert Behavior:

1. If someone you know and care about walks right past you at an event and doesn’t say hello or make eye contact, that doesn’t mean she is a snob.

    (I call this the “I’m so nervous I don’t even recognize my own friends” behavior. Or, “How I alienate everyone I know.”)

2. Daring your friends or taking bets on how best to make an introvert feel uncomfortable never ends well.

       (April Larson, your time is coming. My entire being is violated. Specifically my lap.)

3.  Sometimes we get in the wrong car, it happens.

     (Being out of our element makes us so nervous! It’s when you get in the wrong car and it is already occupied that things get out of hand. Otherwise you’re just a car prowler and not a carjacker. Nobody likes a carjacker. Or a tracker jacker. Or Cracker Jacks, seriously Frito Lay.)

4. Asking permission for a hug is the best gift you can ever give.

    (Don’t assume. We need to be prepared for further giving of ourselves. Which means telling our brain not to assume it is battery and maybe hold off on the “groin, sternum, eyeballs” self-defense maneuver. Or you can play it by ear because you like danger, whatever.)

5. Each personal question you ask results in shorter and shorter answers, unless you are a close friend. We don’t find ourselves interesting and it horrifies us to keep talking about how boring our lives are.

(This is simply the Law of Diminishing Returns in action. I went to business school, I have to incorporate it into my life somehow. Also, we are conscientious about not wasting your time with inane descriptions of the books we are reading and it’s all we really have to talk about that doesn’t give away any piece of ourselves.)

6. PLEASE start by talking about yourself and sharing what is happening in your life, it puts us at ease and gives us a minute to zone out and adjust to our surroundings.

   (Don’t be offended when I say “zone out.” Chances are we won’t remember what you said even if we were trying to pay attention. Being nervous and overwhelmed results in short-term memory loss. But since I live in Washington, it’s highly likely that everyone has short-term memory loss this year anyway.)

7. If we’re talking a lot, don’t let us have another drink.

   (You have been warned. This only usually happens when E is around anyway. On account of needing to be thrown over a shoulder and physically removed from the immediate surroundings for safety.)

8. If we touch you voluntarily, you are in the circle of trust and are not subject to the stranger-danger rules any longer. Feel free to hug us any time. But please don’t joke about how we hate to be touched, it makes us feel like there is something wrong with us.

   (Also don’t take it to the next level. See “April Larson” above. She’s been ejected from the circle. I’m currently taking applications for replacements.)

9. If we start talking about something we find fascinating, we hope you have a couple of hours to spare and want to dissect and analyze the entire spectrum of the topic.

     (I’m talking charts and graphs, a trip to the library, some off-location follow-up discussion, maybe a field trip and 37 texts and an email arguing the other side of the issue just to be fair.)

10. If we say this is our 6th party this week, you might want to grab some popcorn and settle in for the show because chances are, we are at the outer limits of behaving appropriately.

(You are about to see a side of us we don’t even know yet about ourselves. As a precaution, have 9-1-1 pre-dialed on your phone. Or a GoPro, depending on if you want some blackmail money.)

In summary, being a social misfit is not very glamorous. We stammer, trip, hide, cackle inappropriately and generally make everyone else feel really good about themselves. We are an asset to any peer group because we keep things pretty real, even when we try not to. We are petrified of starting a conversation and are probably holding a “safe object” in our hand for comfort. You’ll recognize us because we’re in the corner. Or in the kitchen doing your dishes so we don’t have to socialize. We’re different. Just like everyone else.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Forty Spice

In every assessment, review and report card for my entire life, I’ve always been described as consistent, dependable, and reliable.  I’m the one people can count on.  I’m even-tempered and unfazed by stress and drama.  I listen carefully and follow directions well.  If I tell someone I’m going to do something, I follow through, no matter what.  I guess you could say I’m a really boring people pleaser.  Unless E is telling me to do something and then I ignore him, stick my tongue out behind his back and generally do just the opposite of what he’s asking. He brings out my inner toddler. Maybe this is what true love is all about. Tantrums.

In any event, I take commitments pretty seriously.  Well, those things that I rate as important at least.  I’m not talking about stupid things like, you know, grocery shopping or making sure to shift out of 2nd gear before I hit 60 on the highway – because that stuff is just plain dumb. Who wants to waste their life worrying about little things like nutrition or vehicle life expectancy when major life responsibilities such as teaching your children how to extend the 5 second rule to a minute and a half or setting a personal record for how many years in a row you can go without answering the phone at home take up so much time and dedication?  It’s exhausting, sometimes I just don’t know how I do it all.

It should be easy to imagine, then, that hitting the big 4-0 would be a pretty low-key non-event for me.  Because besides that one time I freaked out when I won The Lead Foot Award at my old job (not because I drive fast, because I walk like a bull in a china shop), I tend to remain pretty nonplussed about most everything in life.  Another birthday?  Please.  Metaphorical piece of cake.

Well guess what dummies?  I HATE CAKE.  And I hate that I’m turning 40.  Not hate it in the sense that 40 is always treated as some sort of over the hill, welcome to obscurity, let’s all act like this is so funny and decorate everything black and make life humiliating for someone all day long because YES, that will be fun for them type of hate.

No, no, I hate it more in the sense of OH MY GOD THIS IS IT, NOW I AM FOR SURE A GROWN UP AND I WILL NEED TO ACT MATURELY AND INTELLIGENTLY IN ALL THAT I DO kind of way.  Can you understand how impossible this will be for me to accomplish? How bad of a disaster I will turn it into?  Just last week I hid behind a giant display of Fruit Loops and Frosted Flakes at Target so I didn’t have to talk to someone I knew and have them see what I had in my cart for cripes sake.  I can’t turn into a mature human being overnight!  Also? THEY WERE ON SALE!

Because no matter how weird it is to look in the mirror and see yourself getting older, it’s even weirder to be a neurotic idiot inside your head wondering why it feels like your thoughts have barely matured past the age of 17.  At what point will it feel like I’ve got my act together?  When will I feel comfortable in my own skin and confident in the choices I make?  Will I ever?

It’s like that Spice Girls song Wanna Be that irritated me so much whenever I heard it in the 90’s.  “So tell me what you want, what you really really want.  I’ll tell you what I want what I really really want. I wanna, I wanna, I wanna…..”  The nonstop running dialog in my head asking me what I really want from life was suddenly on the radio 24/7 pressuring me to do something, be somebody, go faster, get smarter, attain an unreasonable standard of beauty and set women back another 100 years.  The problem is that I’m worthless when there are too many options.  I get a pretty bad case of analysis paralysis and freeze in indecision. Is it better to be smart or rich?  Materialistic or environmentally conscious?  Socially aware or immune to human suffering?  A dumb blonde or a sexy redhead?  Relativistic or pragmatic?  Ford or Chevy?  Skittles or Sour Patch Kids?  AHHHHHRRRG!

I think that’s maybe why I’ve become so distrustful of society’s pressure to appear like we have it all.  Between doctored selfies and posts on Facebook that make it look like everyone’s life is perfect and consists of one fabulous event after another, to magazines that claim that new moms should now lose all their baby weight within three weeks of giving birth, it’s all just too much to live up to.  It’s unattainable in real life and yet we are projecting the image that this is what real life is all about.  But is it?

Show me one person you admire on a social media site that appears to have everything and I will show you a depressed, broke, lonely and miserable person who is scared to admit their problems to themselves, let alone everyone else. Admitting that they aren’t perfect or happy would mean having to deal with some real shit.  And it’s easier to dress up the outside facade than deal with the inside chaos because that might mean having real thoughts and dealing with real issues.  And as a society, we don’t have time for that.  It’s not your fault.  Collectively, it’s all our fault.

No, thank you.  If you know me, you know I like to make fun of myself.  I’m not perfect.  I’m a mess inside 99% of the time.  Sometimes I’m funny.  Sometimes I’m sad.  I have trouble balancing those two in particular.  I think being broken and imperfect is beautiful. It’s real.

So the next time you see someone who looks like they have it all, be wary.  But also have empathy.  Be unafraid to show them you aren’t even close to having it all yourself and that that is pretty damn okay with you. They might need your love and your acceptance of their imperfections more than you will ever know.

I don’t know why turning 40 is so hard for me.  I’ve always been the kind of person that needs forward growth, never happy with the status quo.  I can’t stand stagnation, I want always to reach, learn, improve. I try hard to look to the future and forget embarrassments from the past (except giant bangs, those will ALWAYS be cool). So why is it so hard for me to let go of my 30’s?

Maybe that is the mystery that will be solved the day I turn 40.  Maybe I’ll wake up with an amazing recognition of just how far I’ve come.  And a loving self-acceptance about the actions and behaviors I took to get here.  And maybe, just maybe, a tad bit of excited childlike wonder for what is still on the horizon.  I hope so.

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 This is forty.  I’m almost okay with it.