Inventing With Squiggy

Beakers of several sizes

Upon reading David L. Lander’s book Fall Down Laughing, there were a couple of sentences in one of the final chapters of the book that really struck a cord with me.

“When I was asked as a kid what I wanted to do for a living when I grew up, I remember answering the question by saying that there was a great job for me out there, it just hadn’t been invented yet.”

He goes on to say that the jobs he’d had, The Credibility Gap and Laverne and Shirley, didn’t exist until he walked in and invented them.

“All my life I had traveled the path of invention, making it up as I went along.”

I don’t think I’ve ever had anyone else explain the way I look at my life so accurately. I didn’t think anyone else did it like me. That’s not a brag; just an admission of loneliness and isolation.

I’m surrounded by people that did things by the book. I can’t even find the book, let alone read it. There’s really no one to relate to when it comes to discussing my world. To them, I’m a slacker, a failure, an idiot. I should have gone to college and gotten a real job and gotten married and had kids and all of that stuff that I was supposed to do, that normal people do.

But in my head, I knew that wasn’t going to be my bag. I knew there was a job out there for me, but it hadn’t been invented yet. I just didn’t put that thought into those words. And I didn’t know what that job was.

I still don’t know what it is.

I haven’t invented it yet.

Okay, yes, I am a writer and I do work several day jobs to support myself, but that all isn’t the same thing. Mr. Lander was a writer and an actor and worked day jobs, but his job hadn’t been invented yet. Do you see what I mean? My job hasn’t been invented yet.

I’m working on it.

I’m writing. I’m learning. I’m trying. It’s not easy. I mean there are some things I’m just not good at, things that make inventing a job even harder. Mr. Lander definitely possesses some skills that I don’t.

But that doesn’t mean that it’s not going to happen. I’m going to fail a lot, but I’m going to get it right eventually. I’m going to invent that gig that’s meant for me. It’ll probably end up looking like Frankenstein’s monster, but I’ll love it just the same.

Pass me that beaker, please.

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Socially Awkward Kind of Gal

socialization aftermath

I have many great abilities and talents, but social skills are not one of them. The concern about this has been present since I was very small. The school thought I was very bright and wanted me to skip kindergarten. My mother, while she agreed that I was smart, declined the offer. She didn’t think I was ready socially.

It can be argued that I’m still not ready socially.

I do much better online than in person. I’m very comfortable with words, reading and interpreting them and using them to communicate. I get the opportunity to pick my words more carefully and say exactly what I mean. In person, I feel under pressure to communicate so things don’t always come out right. Not to mention that whole lack of tact thing I have going on. Through writing I can at least catch more of those gaffes.

I’m better when I’m with people I know and am comfortable with. There’s less pressure to communicate because these people know what I mean and if they don’t, they’re more likely to ask what the hell I’m talking about or call me out for being tactless and make me rephrase my thoughts. I’m not as concerned with not knowing how to socialize because those people KNOW I don’t know how to socialize and they forgive me (or at least tolerate me).

With new people, the pressure is on. I come across as rather shy at first because I’m trying to figure people out, trying to see what I can get away with humor-wise. I’m watching the new people to try to figure out how to appropriately interact with them because I honestly don’t know. I’m terrible at reading social cues. I have no idea the best way to end a conversation with someone when I’m done talking. I’m not always sure when another person ends a conversation with me. And when the conversation is over, hours later, I’m wandering if I did okay or if the person I talked with thinks I’m weird. I am weird, but I don’t want to come off as creepy weird.

Part of my problem, I know, is that I don’t interpret information like other people. My roommate loves to point out that I don’t think like normal people and she’s right and I think that’s part of my socialization problem.

The rest of it, I think, has to do with insecurity. I am insecure in places. I know myself too well not to be. I know my faults and when I’m interacting with people, it sometimes sets off that part of my brain. I wonder why these people are talking to me and what they really think about me. I know I shouldn’t care about what other people think of me, but in a way I do. I don’t want them to misinterpret my awkwardness and lack of social skills as something else. I have plenty of poor qualities to turn them off, but I want them to be turned off by the qualities I have, not the qualities they think I have.

I try to practice socializing. I keep thinking that if I keep using what little skills I have, they will develop and I will get better at it. When I was working part-time at Wal-Mart, the regular interaction with other human beings really helped. Since then, there is so much rust that’s built up and my once thriving skills have atrophied with disuse. When you’re not a social creature by nature, force is the only way you can build up these skills and keep them working. I haven’t been forced to use them and haven’t been forcing myself to use them.

And it shows.

I’m going to keep practicing, though. I’ll find ways to force myself to use my social skills and then I’ll force myself to use them. No doubt I’ll still be awkward, but if I could be less awkward, I’d be happy with that.

After all, communication is important.

Remember High School?

School Buses

It’s back-to-school time again and that seems to provoke adults, even ones without children, to remember their school days.

I remember high school. Somewhat. Sort of. It’s been a while. I can remember a few things about freshman year, a few more about sophomore year. Junior year has it’s blurry moments.  Senior year has a few more clear memories. For me it wasn’t the hell hole some make it out to be. It also wasn’t the glorious, best-time-of-my-life experience either. I walked the line, I suppose. I had some good times, I had some crap times. I wasn’t bullied. I wasn’t popular. I had my friends and my insecurities just like everyone else.

It wasn’t my best period in life, but if it was, that’d be a real downer. Who the hell wants their life to peak at 16?

I didn’t go to my ten year class reunion. Not because I couldn’t, but because I didn’t want to. I still live in the same town I went to school all my life in. Many of the people in my class still live in town. Working at Wal-Mart I saw a lot of them. To me it didn’t feel like ten years was long enough to get together and pretend life was a strawberry picking festival back then. Especially, since some of the people I’d be seeing at the reunion acted like they didn’t know me when they saw me around town (and maybe they didn’t recognize me, maybe I’m that easily forgotten; but I know that’s not the case for all of them).

And there’s some people that even after all this time, I just do not like and I’m not going to like. Period. Not even for an evening of good times.

Sorry. No amount of booze makes me want to play nicey-nice with you.

Now, this isn’t to say that everyone I went to school with was a jerk. Some of them were. Some of them still are. Time doesn’t change everyone and the ones that time does change don’t necessarily change for the better. Through the magic of Facebook, I’ve found that several people that I got along with and hung out with in high school have become people I don’t care for very much.  (It should be noted that this doesn’t necessarily mean they’re bad people. It also means that I’m not excluded in that whole change thing. Personalities that once worked together mature, grow, change and end up no longer meshing. That kind of thing happens. What I’m saying is that this sort of judgment is subjectivity at its finest.)

However, there were some people I went to school with that hold a special place in my timeline. They were truly lovely people that made an impression during a turbulent time in my existence and I’m happy to have known them. I’m friends with some of them on Facebook and I’ll be honest when I say that they still give me warm fuzzies when they pop up on my timeline.

Oddly enough, those are the people I haven’t seen in person very much since graduation.

Apparently, there are plans to attempt a 15 year reunion next year. I’m not sure if I’d go if it happens.

On one hand, I don’t feel like 15 years has been long enough either, though I got out of retail and don’t see a lot of my old classmates around town as much as I used to. Now I see them on Facebook and that’s kind of good enough for me.

On the other hand, there’s this theory that when you get people together in a class reunion situation, the old cliques and social hierarchies come back, like an instinct, and I’m half curious to see in person if that would happen. I suspect that it would, despite the time passed and the changes everyone has gone through.

There’s something that hasn’t changed since high school.

I’m still the weird girl that thinks about things from a totally different angle.

Happy Birthday, Boobies!

Okay, today is not the day; it was the 13th (and I had to look it up because I couldn’t remember it, though I knew it was in August). And it’s not really a birthday, but an anniversary. But still, it’s cause for me to celebrate.

Nine years ago on August 13th, I had breast reduction surgery.

Why is this such a big deal? Allow me to illustrate. With words, of course.

Just like other areas of my life, I was a late bloomer when it came to getting boobs. It really didn’t start to happen much until I was in 8th grade. And once it started happening, it didn’t stop. By the time I was a senior in high school, a 44DDD, the largest bra I could find in the stores, was too small.

I begged my dad for a breast reduction because I was on his insurance at the time and it would cover the surgery. My dad said no. He told me to lose weight. I did. I lost 20 pounds. None of it came off of my chest. But when I gained it back, that’s where it went. He still refused. He didn’t understand how miserable it was.

It wasn’t until after high school that he finally got it. He came home one hot summer day, complaining about how hot his bullet proof vest made him and how it was getting worse every year. I looked at my dad and quite unsympathetically said, “At least you get to take yours off. I’ve got mine 24/7/365.”

I guess it’s hard for people to understand the concept of heat rash all year round. It’s hard for them to understand how uncomfortable a too-small, ill-fitting bra is. It’s hard for them to understand the WEIGHT.

People are used to seeing those fake boobs that stand up on their own and seem weightless. I don’t know if they are lighter, but I know real boobs aren’t. It’s fat and mammory glands and tissue. It’s heavy. Only in a weightless environment would my breasts be perky. Rocking what should have been an H or I cup (yes, they make those), I was that exaggerated droopy breast joke you see on those comical birthday cards in Spencer’s. When I took my bra off, I could sit down and my breasts would touch the tops of my thighs. That’s how big and how heavy they were.

Sexy, huh?

I had back trouble and spent most of my time hurting. I mentioned the heat rash. I also had trouble sleeping. It was hard to find a position that was comfortable because of all of that squishy weight on my chest, sliding around and getting in the way and smooshing me if I wasn’t smooshing them.

And then there was the toll it took on my self-esteem.

When I finally got the job that provided me with the insurance that would cover a breast reduction, I jumped at the chance. During the initial pre-surgery examination, the doctor said he would probably take off 15 pounds of tissue.

I’m going to repeat that. My breasts were large enough that the doctor felt taking off 15 pounds of tissue would still leave me with ample enough bosom for my build. That’s how big I was.

In the end, the doctor only took off 7 pounds of tissue total, but still for fun, get a couple of three pound weights and picture carrying that plus (because the doc did leave me some titties) on your chest. That was me.

I’m now at a much more comfortable size, rocking at a 38DD. Sure, it still sounds big, but the difference is a) the bra fits and b) this size works with my build so it’s not too big. And compared to what I was nine years ago, this is positively tiny.

I feel better. I don’t have nearly the back problems I used to have. The heat rash is gone. I’ve got one less problem sleeping. Have there been some drawbacks? Sure and I’ll discuss those at some point. But this is a celebration, so I’m sticking with the positive today.

Happy birthday, boobies. You deserve it.

“Why Are You Single?”

I get this question far more often than I think I should. I feel it should be obvious why I’m single: I’m a fat, pasty bulldog that lives with my dad and a roommate and is in the process of trying to straighten out of the financial mess that I got myself into starting a few years ago. What man wouldn’t want that? Meow. Irresistable.

Okay, so maybe there’s a little more to it than that. I guess there’s actually a lot of little contributing factors to my singledom.

The first has to be the ending of my previous long term relationship. That ended ten years ago. No lie. The relationship wasn’t that great, it didn’t end on a positive note, and I was young and emotionally immature. It took me quite awhile to unravel all of the ends and outs of what went wrong. For years, I thought it was me. I thought me behaving badly was just how I was in a relationship and I avoided any prospect of getting into one to save the other poor soul, no matter how badly I wanted that person.

Years later, I realized that what happened in that relationship wasn’t the person I was and that I am quite capable of being a healthy individual in a partnership given the right partner and the appropriate communication.

Unfortunately, I missed a few opportunities in the meantime. Part of those misses were because of my fear of intimacy, but the other part were because of my obliviousness. I had a guy that I was totally enamoured with ask me to makeout with him and I didn’t because I thought he was joking. I thought it was because he was drunk and I was the only single girl in the room. It never entered my mind that he might have been serious.

There was another factor in that missed opportunity, as well as a few others, and that’s respect. The particular guy I was so enamoured with was part of a group of friends that I had worked really hard to gain their respect, to have them think of me as an equal and not just a girl tagging along. In my mind, to give in and make a try for this guy would lessen the respect this group had for me. I’d lose everything I’d worked for and the likelihood I’d be able to get it back would be lower than when I started. Yeah. Pride and respect trumped it all.

That has to be my biggest regret in life, that particular missed opportunity. I still think about what might have been sometimes, though those times are getting fewer and farther between.

And if all of that isn’t good enough, I imagine the fact that I don’t get out much doesn’t help me. I can’t meet anyone if I’m sitting at home. I’m not a big social outing kind of person. I go through phases. I’m going to a lot of baseball games this summer. I went out a lot when I was involved in the indy scence of pro wrestling. I’ve gone to several geek conventions. Bars aren’t really my scene and in a small town, there’s not much else to do. I’m more of a homebody anyway. And it’s no doubt cost me.

It is also entirely possible that a little bit of my singleness rests in the hands of the guys. I’m not exactly what a guy is looking for in a girl. I’m not the ideal they’re told by the media to seek. I’m pale and fat and a brunette. I’m a fighter and an ego bruiser. There’s not much about me that’s dainty or pretty. I don’t look good in a belly shirt and I like sports too much. There’s nothing stereotypical about me and that turns guys off, I don’t care what they say. Any guy who says they just want a girl that’s sweet and smart and looks don’t matter is blowing smoke.

Not many guys are going to spend too much time getting to know me to see if maybe I’d be good for them. Maybe if I was skinny, maybe if I was pretty, maybe if I behaved like a girl in the romantic comedies, they might hang around and give me a shot. But on looks alone, I’m more trouble with their buddies than I’m worth.

It’s hard to find a guy who doesn’t have a pack mind like that.

And I have yet to find one.

Of course, a big part of that is my hang-up.

I’m still working on a way to get unhung.

Voice of an Angel; Motives of a Big Girl

This past week the Chicago Cubs have been accepting applications for PA announcer. It was an open audition of sorts, as they invited fans to submit vidoes of themeselves reciting three scripts in an attempt to maybe, possibly, perhaps win a Cubs fan’s dream job.

I’m one of the many that applied.

If you’re anything like my roommate, then you’re first thought is probably, “But you already have a job!”

To you I say, you’ve got keen powers of observation. I do have a job. And I don’t see what that has to do with anything.

The reason why I’m doing this doesn’t have anything to do with getting a new job, though I wouldn’t turn it down if they offered it to me. It’s the idea behind the absolutely remote chance that I’d even make it on the finalist list, let alone get the gig, that made me do it.

Think about it.

If by some miracle of miracles I got the job, my life would be turned upside down. There’d be a mad scramble for me to quit my old job, find a place to live in Chicago, find a car that could actually make it to Chicago, move, get settled, get to know my new surroundings, and get set in my new gig. It would be crazy. It’s a big move. It’s a bold move.

It might be just be the move I need to make.

Most people do this sort of thing when they’re young, usually college. They move out and find out what it’s like to be on their own. They establish their own security and their own place in the world.

For too long I’ve relied on the security of someone else and for the past couple of years, it hasn’t been so secure. I’m long overdue to leave the nest and I know it. It worked out well enough when I was younger. I got to do things that I wouldn’t have been able to do had I had all of the typical grown-up bills to pay.

Now it’s time to take that last grown-up step. It’s a hard one considering I never wanted to grow up in the first place and paying for things like rent offends my penny-pinching sensibilities. Not to mention it’s a scarier prospect because now I’m actually old enough to know better. When you’re 18 or 20, you don’t think about failing. When you’re 30 bonus year like me, it’s called risk assessment. Failure is a real thing. At my age, you can’t go home again.

I’m using this as a tentative baby step to get used to the idea of turning my world upside down and shaking things up. This is the springboard to get me used to the idea, to make it exciting and challenging and thrilling like it should be, instead of overwhelming and scary and foreboding like I want to make it (and kind of have been making it for the past couple of years).

I’m better with change if I can ease myself into it. Now the scenario I described about getting the PA job wouldn’t be easing into it. But thinking about what I’d have to do to make that work is. It’s giving my brain the heads up. It’s telling myself that it’s time to switch gears. It’s time to get out of this complacent rut I’ve been in for far too long and start working towards something new. By the time I’m in the position financially to make that happen comfortably, I’ll be in the position mentally and emotionally to make it happen comfortably, too.

I’m all about my own comfort. That’s part of the reason why I’m still here and not…out there.

I know it makes me sound like a bit of wimp wanting to take this time to get used to the idea of doing something I should have done a long time ago, but I do believe we discussed that I’m cursed as a late bloomer. I also wasn’t exactly well prepared to make that transition to adulthood. So, yeah, I’m doing it on my own terms and at my own pace.

And if in the process of doing things my way I happen to score a gig with the Cubs and do end up turning my life upside down a lot sooner and faster than I planned, well, that’s okay, too.

Maybe I never wanted to grow up, but I did learn how to catch what life throws at me.

Late Bloomer Blues II

I wrote my first word at three and my first story at six, but I was twenty-eight before I fully committed myself to being a writer.

Oh, I’d thought about it over the years because I always wrote, stories, plays, and poems. But, I had a bit of ADD when it came to trying to figure out what I was going to spend the rest of my life doing because so many things have caught my interest over the years. Marine biology, meterology, acting, psychology, medicine, sociology. At one point, I considered them all. And I think the thing that frustrated my family the most was that I could have done all of them (though I don’t think I would have been the most successful actress because of my looks, or lack thereof) because I was smart enough to do any of it; I just didn’t have the attention span or the follow through.

My senior year of high school was the first time I actually made an attempt to be serious about my writing in the sense that I took a correspondence course on creative writing. It took a little over a year for me to complete and I got a nice shiny certificate in creative writing from it not long after I got my high school diploma, but I didn’t feel like I learned very much aside from the very important lesson that plot is a good thing and my stories could use it.

My first round of community college, I intended to major in English to work towards a degree in creative writing because that seemed logical. I’m a logical person and I think there must be logical steps to take to achieve goals and if I can find them, I’ll take them. Sometimes I’m terrible at finding them.

Majoring in English lasted one semester because instead of going back to school, I went to work. The next time I went to school, I was intending on majoring in sociology. The last time I went to school, I took every psyhcology course I could find.

It was the psychology courses that reawakened my desire to write (which had been squashed by a battle with depression and was slow to come back as I got my life back on track) because studying about these quirks of humanity made me want to write about them.

I started making time to write, started writing with the purpose to get published, started submitting my stories to contests and to publications. I got my first victory in 2008 when my story placed 10th in its category in a contest. That was the first time I really felt like maybe I had what it took to make a career out of writing.

And ever since then I’ve been kicking myself in the butt for not realizing it sooner. I feel like I’ve wasted time, especially when I see people much younger than I am land publishing deals or hear about some writers who’d been submitting their work since they were in their teens. I feel like starting my career at 28 puts me miles behind everyone else and miles behind where I should be.

Now every rejection feels like a setback that I should have suffered years ago and I’m too old to be dealing with it now. It’s like going through puberty years after all of my classmates. I feel so behind and I can’t catch up because in order for that to happen I’d need a DeLorien and a flux capacitor.

So until Santa brings me those things, I just keep plugging away, hoping to make up for lost time.

The late bloomer blues strike again.