Sunday, June 30, 2013

Sociable (Love in the Time of Anxiety)

so·cia·ble - adjective, noun

1. inclined to associate with or be in the company of others.
2. friendly or agreeable in company; companionable.
4. an informal social gathering, especially of members of a church.

This weekend, two of my important people got married. One in a self composed musical wedding ceremony at a theatre nearby, one in what I can only assume was a terrific country style wedding (based on her absolutely amazing Pinterest-collection of wedding-related things covered in twine) just a few hours away. Both are people I would have loved to see as brides. I was invited to the celebrations by the latter of the two, and I really should have gone. She was in my wedding, I've known her since I was 15, we've travelled together for heaven's sake. There's a bond there. But who spent all of that day on the computer watching 6 episodes of 'Freaks and Geeks' in a row, eating half a bag of crisps and making 48 cupcakes? That was me.


Story time!

I've always been a happy kid. Actually, for a long time I was that kid:

I have no idea who the other kids here are, I think they're relatives.
Should one of them be you, and I'm now ripping up some horrible childhood trauma - please forgive me. 
The kid who, when everyone else agreed that both the activity and the people involved sucked, was just happy as a clam getting to wear a scarf on her head. (To be honest, I'm still that kid).

However, something happened as I grew older, and at some point I went 'Hey! Groups of people, how horribly horrifying!' Now, I'm no expert, but I think most people who experience social anxiety at a young age tend to shy away from people. Not me. No, I inserted myself into as many large groups of people I possibly could, feeling awful while pretending to be super happy. And it worked fairly well, as long as I granted myself a steady supply of breaks to cry in a bathroom.

I was bubbly, enthusiastic and confident on the outside, and shy, terrified and insecure on the inside. Actually, I can do better than that. Let's do a thought experiment: imagine a really magnificently colourful train. It's bursting through the landscape, soap bubbles flying, happy music playing, rainbows and glitter shooting through the air, leaving the scent of home-made cinnabuns and summer. In fact, the whole village is just waiting for the next time it will pass with it's silly quirky happiness.

On the inside, however, the train is nothing but a wooden box, with a narrow wooden bench. A wobbly narrow wooden bench, with only 3 legs. And on that wobbly three legged bench sits the engineer. He happens to be very old, terrified of speed, he is allergic to the smell of cinnabuns and gets horrible motion sickness.  And he's nearly blind. And in charge of the train. That only has one break that you have to move from wheel to wheel, on the outside. And the door is jammed. Can you picture it?

That's how I felt. (In all honesty, a lot of people probably found my bubbly too much, so maybe only a tenth of the village really waited for me to burst through the landscape, but that is beside the point of this discussion, thank you very much).

Then this happened:
It might surprise you to know I did not have a MySpace account
I was the cheeriest goth you'll ever meet, and that lasted for about 6 months, before the happy-train went on in technicolour. At some point, the engineer jumped out leaving little but the happy bubbly outside and the wobbly bench on the inside. Occasional panic attacks happened, but I powered through, functioning relatively well for years, with only the shortest periods of 'can't handle people, really.' 10 years passed that way. And then I went to England.

In England the engineer caught up with me again. I thought he was lost forever, but he had just been out buying equipment, getting laser eye surgery and some motion sickness tablets. He was back, and ready for action.

First he installed breaks. Slowing down the whole train a little. Then he fixed the wobbly bench, decided it was still crap and bought a new one. He painted the inside walls, picked off pieces of stickers and happy slogans on the outside, giving the train a slightly less manic look, but making the inside a lot brighter, and he started experimenting with slowing down the pace when he wasn't in the mood for full speed. It felt good, it felt smart, it felt awesome. Except, the engineer very suddenly disappeared again.

I don't know what happened to him, I'm hoping he's just out for more parts. Luckily he made an emergency break for me to hold on to before he left. That turned out to be a good thing. When I got back to Norway I was overwhelmed by the complete lack of fit between the me I got to know while in England, and the life I lived back here. And instead of crashing the train into a wall, I pulled on the emergency break and stopped it completely.

It's been tough coming home, it is tough being home, it is tough finding out where to go from here. And it has been tough telling an important person: 'I'm so sorry, but the thought of going to your wedding gets in the way of me sleeping, and makes me sweat and tear up a little bit.' Luckily, she is understanding.

But! Now I'm all sorts of hopeful! After all, is there a better place to find yourself than on a comfortable bench inside? Is there a better time to figure out where you're going than when the train stands still? I think not! I've also started doing some remodelling on my own, for example I've figured out the train could use some more windows, it would be nice with a passenger car and and a larger variation in music, perhaps a happy whistle and whatever it is that makes the train make that 'chooo chooo'-sound. I'm decorating.

Right now, it's okay resting in a train that's colourful both inside and out, waiting for the engineer to come back. And when he does, I'll make it up to the brides. I'll make it up to all the people who have been waiting. I'll make it up with visits and celebrations and joining in parties and accepting invitations and talking and listening and all those words. After all, I am quite sociable.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Romantic (Why Doctor Who is more romantic than Romeo and Juliet)

ro·man·tic - adjective

1. of, pertaining to, or of the nature of romance; characteristic or suggestive of the world of romance
2. fanciful; impractical; unrealistic
3. imbued with or dominated by idealism
5. displaying or expressing love or strong affection.

Hello, Internet!

Important birthdays are coming up, and as always that sends me spiralling into an endless search for perfect gifts. Gifts that say something. Talking gifts. And I'm good at it too! Few, if any, have such a good track record with semi-sapient presentry as I do.

However, searching through Etsy, Pinterest, Ebay, Amazon and Epla, looking for inspiration and those extra special things has made me think about romance. Hundreds of hundreds of items later, I find that most  romantic expressions annoy me. Geeks do it better. It's just a fact.

1. You are my sun
NO! What are you even saying? That I'm a burning ball of gas? That I am your only source of heat and light?  That your life depends upon me? That if I suddenly disappeared you would die? Does that sound romantic to you? It is not! It's needy, and clingy, and too much pressure, and as a matter of fact - a little grandiose! Juliet is not the sun. Juliet is Juliet. You should be your own gorram sun! If you suddenly disappeared from your life, you would die, your life depends upon you - those are fair points. I'm not your sun. You are!

Geek fix:
Moon of my life (Game of Thrones - Technically answered with 'My sun and stars' but we'll forgive that based on the male/female symbolism and the nomadic existence of the people who use this. Open skies etc)

YES! I like this! You're saying I am the person your own love and beauty reflects back off, who helps lighten up the dark in your life? I can deal with that. You're saying that if I suddenly disappeared things would not be the same, there would be a problem with wobbling and flooding for a while, and hefty climate effects which it would take some time to get used to? Fair enough! It would suck to lose you too!

2. You are the only one for me
NO! I'm really not. There are almost 7 billion people in the world, you and I met after a long string of coincidences and we've probably adjusted ourselves somewhat to fit each other - because that's what people do. There's nothing romantic in thinking that out of all the people in the whole world this one is the only one you could be with. That would just doom you to entire singleness if Your Person got run over by a car or something, and where's the fair in that?

Geek fix:
I choose you (Pokemon)
What is truly romantic is that out of all the seven billion humans, you choose this one - every day.

3. I love you because of all of these reasons and you are so beautiful in all these ways and also if someone sees My Person say all these things, and I'll do all these things, and in the future and forever I will always keep doing all these things and saying all these words because I love you, I love My Person, I love, I love, I love.

Now, I'm afraid I might come across as a bit of cynic here, but that is not my intention. I am all for the grand romantic gestures, and I believe in telling people you love them, often and without reason. But even more so, I believe in showing people what they mean to you and why.

Geek fix:
Tell her... Oh, she knows. (Doctor Who)
This is what you should aim for. This is what I'm aiming for. That no matter what words you say or choose, no matter how big or small your romantic gifts or outbursts are, that the person will know.

I want to be absolutely certain that all those in my life, who should know, will know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I love them, they are awesome, and I'd make them Leek and Turkey pie with Red Onion Jam, Vegan Tortillas with home made taco spice, Mac'n'Cheese with sausages and "Fiskelefse", or whatever else their heart desires, every day of the week. That I would cross the universe, or oceans, or just take a walk, anywhere, at any time. This is what I hope they will know.

So when jumping out from a cliff (with a hang glider?), or sinking down through the ocean (while scuba diving) or getting ready to leap out of an airplane (again... parachute, this isn't suicidal just adventurous) I can say to the person on the cliff/in the boat/in the plane: If something goes wrong, tell them... Oh, they know.

If this doesn't break your heart a little bit, you might be a robot.
Or just not care so much about Doctor Who.
Both are fine by me, I'm just saying. 

Oh yeah, and they'll probably have kick ass presents to remind them, if they don't. 

Friday, June 7, 2013

Wordless interlude

People talk about wavelengths as if they were a valid way of measuring chemistry. "We were on the same wavelength," they say, meaning that the person they talked to didn't disagree too much. "She was on a completely different wavelength," they say, meaning she held views completely different from their own.

It is a useless system. Not only because the wavelengths in mention don't actually exist, but even more because the waves they are trying to define are identifiable only by their lack of definition.

I've met these people, who are 'on the same wavelength' as me, and what I can say for certain about them is that their waves and my waves are not made of the same stuff.

My waves run thin and silvery through the air, hooking up to all other waves I've ever experienced. My web of waves is just that - a web.

However, when I meet these mysterious "on the same wavelength"-people, they tend to have waves made of stronger stuff. Blocks and pegs that fit perfectly in the gaps created between my waves. They make my chaos seem like order, and I make their scattered waves seem connected. And so we work.

"It's important to find people who are on the same wavelength," they say, completely misunderstanding the point. It is important, I say, never to look for waves at all. What good are waves, really? It's the ocean we care about