Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Weirdness: Thou Doth Define Me

For those of you who have not read The Bloggess (http://thebloggess.com/) I suggest you do so...RIGHT NOW. Go on..I'll wait. (Though not for folks who dislike swearing...I happen to like swearing, so it's definitely ok for me.) Seriously, I'm having some sort of epiphany reading her (Jenny Lawson's) new book (based on her humour and fame as a blogger) called: "Let's Pretend It Never Happened." I suggest you go out and buy it...RIGHT NOW. I'll just be here when you get back.

Why am I pimping this book? Because she does this ridiculously delightful job of being honest about her many, many...like, MANY issues (anxiety disorder, insanity, slightly impoverished upbringing, weird parents, social awkwardness, etc.) but all the while swearing like a sailor, being hilarious, and just being all around awesome. But the main thing is that she has all this social anxiety, weird ticks, and bizarrity, and yet remains FUNNY. I feel like this book (and her blog) gives me hope!

I mean, sometimes I know I'm just being a dork. Sometimes I'm weird on purpose to be funny and/or cute. I have all kinds of anxiety issues, but I keep them pretty much under control. I waffle between gloriously awkward and ever so slightly (at times) cool; I can be rather gregarious at times, and then I can be painfully, painfully shy. I get panic attacks pretty frequently, was once medicated for them, but now seem to know how to deal with them without any outside help. But I still feel weird...a lot of the time. So yeah, it's nice to read about someone else who feels weird...a lot of the time...and know that it can be just another kind of normal.

Case in point: I forgot deodorant the other day. I was rushing, worried about being late, and did everything in my weird OCD little morning routine. But in my new bathroom (only been here a couple weeks), and very tired getting up early (after not sleeping well as I ground my teeth to nubs and thought about all the crappy things that could happen TO me or BECAUSE of me at my new place of work...the freaking government of Nunavut!) I was not really on my A-game. So I rushed out, went to work, and then a couple hours later, sitting at my desk, gently perspiring, I had a rush of adrenalin pump through me (the WORST thing for a day without pit-stick!), and realized I was NOT ODOUR PROTECTED!

Now, it's not like I have that disease where you get super funky smelling, and stink the place up like last week's garbage...if last week's garbage included tuna, a baby's diaper and some of those trays that raw chicken comes on at the supermarket...plus some raw chicken...that had all been left in the sun for a day or two. I once saw an Oprah show in the 90s about a woman who had that, and she was crying and talking about how people hated to be around her, and Oprah (who was not quite the guru she is now) told the audience that they pumped in the woman's funk into a closed room, and people actually got angry and aggressive they were so grossed out and sickened by the smell! So, no. I was probably more than ok for a day, and I had showered, so I think it was just a weird panic situation.

Thankfully, my pal had given me two tiny bottles of travel Purell. When everyone went on their coffee break, I poured some out, and rubbed that shit all over my pits! Yes, it was cool, did not feel good (read: slightly burny), and I now stunk like a hospital ward, but it was better than B.O....right? RIGHT?!!

(See...I have these moments. Moments that I usually chalk up to me just being hilarious. I mean, I do think I am HI-larious! Or perhaps not me, but the comedy genius that sometimes uses me as a conduit.)

I like to do things on my own, especially as there is SO much less pressure. I don't have to be so aware of myself. Seriously, I have this theory that anxiety, low self-esteem, mental issues...really, these are bizarre forms of egotism. I'm always so highly aware of my body, the noises it makes (tummy gurgling, burping, nose whistling as one nostril is slightly stuffed up, wheezing up stairs), the fact that I might have to poop at any moment, the concern that I'll look sweaty, that my pants are too long, or that I'm too short. I'm not all that smart (shut up friends, it's kind of true and I highly suspect you all know it, but are too polite/embarrassed to say anything!), but I am clever, and so I am constantly trying to fit new information into ways I can understand, and in that same, odd egotism/low-esteem factor, I think this gets construed as "man, that chick is so into herself...always talking about herself or saying how my experience is just like one she had two years ago!" I honestly don't do this to continuously put the ball back in my court (good lord!...I don't WANT the ball in my court, because then I might have to awkwardly run for it!), but rather to take what YOU'VE said, and process it, and make it something I understand.

OR, I do it a lot in a weird form of empathy: ...there, there, you shot up on heroin, passed out in a pool of someone else's vomit and then murdered your neighbour? I remember when I accidentally took too much cold medication, vomited on the rug, and then almost squished the neighbour's cat in the door! No, I'm not trying to one-up you. I mean, does cold medication and heroin even match?? But I'm trying to empathize with you! Often, I can hear myself doing this, realize the person is wondering what the heck I'm doing or talking about, and then start laughing like a loon. More a wheeze-giggle, often born out of intense nervousness.

Or lord help you all if I get my "lecturing" voice on! This is even WORSE than "talking about myself."  The quintessential nerd who takes a cocktail party question too far in an attempt to make "real" conversation. "So, what do you do?" might get asked at a function, or my new job. "Well," I gear up to answer, voice lowering into authoritarian teacher-mode, "I'm a folklorist. This is both what you might think it is, and also what you would never expect!" Ooooh, aaaaah! And then I launch into about 150 years of folklore history, and the poor sucker across from me starts surreptitiously looking at their watch, making eyes with a friend, or just blatantly answering a text or email. "Yes, that's...wow...you're right. I would never have guessed folklore was all that. AND quilts and fiddle music, too, you say. My..."


I've come a long way though. I mean, I meet new people all the time, and I'm kind of happy to say that a goodly portion of them seem to think I'm ok, or my shockingly inappropriate comments are just plain humorous (yes, I told a new gal I met at work that my one boob was coming out of my bra because it was a lot bigger than the other, and then sort of stammered--all this while making a cup of tea--that I don't know why I told her that, but perhaps it was so that if I passed out and my shirt rode up and one boob was out she would know that it was not intentional, but accidental, because of boob ratio...I'm happy to say that the next day this gal tried to tell me a joke about what did the perky boobs say to the saggy boobs and muddled it up and made me instantly want to be her best friend!).

I once asked a guy friend of mine what that scar was I saw on his tummy when he stretched and his shirt rode up (I did not see any bra/boobs-escaping-from-bra's, so he was ok on that front). He sort of mumbled something about surgery, and I badgered and badgered him until he got mad and left the room. His brother then told me that it had been from a hernia, and he was really embarrassed about it. I have no idea what this hernia/boy/embarrassment issue is all about, but still, when he was telling me to mind my own, you think I would understand that it is actually a highly socially-cued code for "mind your own." However, not only did I not get THAT, but when he came back into the room, I sort of blurted out: "Jeez, man, I'm so sorry about bugging you about that scar. I didn't realize it was from some super secret and embarrassing hernia operation, and I don't get why you should be so embarrassed about it, but still, if you are embarrassed by that hernia thing you had, then I'm sorry to bug you about it! I would totally not want to be bothered about some weird ovary surgery scar or something, as I guess your hernia must be kind of like my ovaries, and just...well...embarrassing, hey?"

He left the apartment completely, and did not return. My then-husband sort of smacked his hand on his forehead, and hernia-boy's brother just said, "Really? Like..............really?"

I sort of keep stuff like that to myself now. Mostly. At least I have moments where I almost say something, then sometimes pretend that I forgot what I was going to say (though sometimes I actually DID forget what I was going to say....or rather what YOU just said, so I can't really comment and was maybe going to just say my own thing, and then realized that is rude, so I "forget" my "comment for you" which was really just a "story about myself" and just ask you a question about your life to make sure I am being both appropriate AND not selfish) to ensure I don't say something that will make everyone feel odd. (I'll bet you just had that moment where my bracketed aside was so long you had to read the two parts of the non-bracketed sentence together just to remind yourself of what I was saying...)

Did you know there was a time I couldn't leave my apartment--for almost 4 years--without someone "safe" with me? I had become so socially awkward, so egotistically low-self-esteemy, so anxiety-ridden, that I developed severe agoraphobia. Yep, good times. Whatever weirdness came out of my past marriage, I will say this for the ol' ex...he was pretty patient during that time. I mean, he got annoyed and could sometimes be mean about it, but only after some really aggravating situations. Like, asking me to pick something up from a store that sat less than a block away from our apartment building, and then me calling him at work a couple HOURS later sobbing and telling him that I tried, I really did, but my legs completely seized two houses down, and I was unable to walk, and I thought I wouldn't be able to even walk back to the apartment, but I did, and so that's why he would either have to pick up said-thing himself, or go with me later.

When he would get home, we would walk up--no worries--to wherever we needed to go, and I think he would be left wondering if I was just THAT lazy that I would make up a crazy story and perform an entire act to get out of doing whatever task it was I told him I "couldn't" do. It was awful. Almost 4 years. Trapped. Not many people knew, and I was extremely embarrassed talking about it (as embarrassed as having a hernia scar!), and still feel rather shy about it, though again, thanks to good ol' Jenny Lawless, why not just be honest and ridiculous at the same time, and woot! Everyone's happy! I mean, look at me now! The start of this blog (if anyone cares to read back to 2003) I had never been on a plane. Now I've been to 5 provinces, 1 Territory, 4 countries, 2 continents. I get up and speak in front of people all the time, I keep most of the truly awkward stuff to a minimum, a lot of my weirdness seems to make people (and myself!!!) laugh, I seem to have some good empathy (What's that? You killed a man, just to watch him die? Well...I never killed a man, but I once trapped a mouse under a bowl and it died, so I can imagine how terrible you must feel!), and again, I'm not smart, but I'm clever enough to sort of bluff my way through things smart people do, like degrees and stuff.

So yeah. I can honestly say I don't recommend rubbing Purell under your arms in place of deodorant (field tested, people!), but then again, it's better than slapping two slabs of butter under there and calling myself a turkey, right!! In other words, I'm kind of weird, but I'm not batshit crazy, so that's a plus! And if I've learned anything in life, it's take the good stuff and run with it! Unless the "good stuff" is a super fancy pair of scissors. Then just walk slowly with it, and hold the pointy end in your hand, because if you fall a few stitches in your hand is much better than trying to find a replacement for grandma's eye. Or a guys hernia. (I still might not know what that is...)

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