Hello friend.

 I apologize for that utter and complete theft of a (great) idea from the show Mr. Robot (which if you’re living under a rock and you haven’t watched yet, you absolutely must; hackers are gazzing over it because it is technically correct, everyone else is gazzing over it because it shines a very clear light on the ugly, dystopian underbelly of the world that we all live in. Don’t get me started.)

But, it’s been a while.

I’ve learned that I over-disclose. This is tricky. I am an extreme introvert. What most people call introversion is actually just social anxiety (“just,” he says!). I’m not afraid of people — usually. Not in small doses, anyway. It’s just that after a very short time in others’ company, I want to run screaming from the room, lighting things on fire. “It’s not you, it’s me,” I try to tell them. With very few exceptions, they rarely understand, and assume I’m just weird/antisocial/fearful. I am all of those things, but mostly I’m an introvert. Introversion is a scale — I’m on the far end of the scale, or rather so far off the end that it’s only barely possible to see the far end from where I am. So, why do I over-disclose? Shouldn’t I be taciturn, withdrawn, keep all my thoughts inside?

Nah. I don’t know if it’s “human nature” or not (and, as I get older, I’m becoming suspicious that there may not be such a thing as “human nature”), but I need to talk. It’s just that I don’t want to do it in person. All the extra “programming” required for 3D interaction just overloads me. It’s like sand in the vaseline. The monkey wrench in the gears. The bug in the program — okay, enough with the Mr. Robot references!

But I need to talk. I need that interplay, that interaction. It’s not just pure narcissism. I want a reaction, I want interaction. I want to shock you, entertain you, tell you a thing you’ve not thought of before.

So, I tend to over-disclose. I want to tell you anything that might stimulate your thinks. Almost all of my human interaction is online. I don’t live in my mother’s basement, but that’s just an accident of fate. I have a skill that I’m very good at which is highly sought-after, and well compensated. But I avoid people so thoroughly that I might as well be a hermit, in the middle of a city of a million people. And, of course, my addiction doesn’t help — it makes me whackadoo crazy, so I tend to lose my “normal” friends… rather quickly.

Some things… you should keep to yourself. Or your doctor. Or your priest — I don’t care what church you go to, but we all need someone to “confess” to, whether they wear a black frock or a white lab coat. I’m an atheist, and I don’t see the doctor as often as I should (and I’m hesitant to tell her very much, because I know it all goes on your permanent record. HIPAA be damned.)

So I’ll post in public on Facebook about how I’m an addict, and my recent battles with temptation, and how I lost the battle (but I’ll still win the war, dammit — stubbornness may be what sees me through!) Or on LinkedIn about how I’m dissatisfied with some aspect of my job. Both are very … well, human things… normal things. And both are things you really should keep to a very limited circle of friends, if you share them at all. But my circle of friends is about… what is it now, 1? 2? And I’m not counting Facebook “friends” — that’s a made up concept, and we all know it. So with this need of mine to disclose, it just sort of… comes out.

This blog is no exception. Let’s be honest — nobody reads this. This is the equivalent of me wandering around my house, talking to my dogs (except that hopefully I won’t post a post saying “who’s a pretty girl? YOU are! YOU’RE a pretty girl!” unless things go very, very sideways for me).

This blog is — well, it’s not truly secret or anonymous. It would take you about two seconds to connect the dots and find my real name (and address, and breed of dogs, and favorite sexual positions). But it’s not directly linked to my name, so I have some semblance of freedom here. I can disclose a little (not everything, of course, there are some things you must truly never share with anybody). But, a little.

It’s an escape valve, if you will. I need that.

So, hello friend. I’m back.

Did you miss me?

 

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Mid-Life Crisis

The-Thinker-Auguste-Rodin-GrayscaleLife is meaningless.

Wait, before you go calling 911, this isn’t a necessarily depressing thought, nor am I having some kind of crisis. I’m still sober, in moderately good cheer (thoughtful, but not depressed), and just trying to figure out what gives me meaning.

I just mean that life doesn’t come with its own meaning “built in.” You have to find it for yourself.

Lately, I’ve been trolling Tinder. I’m not sure why; I’m not especially horny, and I’m definitely not looking for a “relationship.” But I want that ego boost of “somebody likes me.” And of course, if it’s some hot young 21 year old, well, cha-ching. I still got it! Of course, I never follow up on any of these likes.

So… why am I doing it?

I’ve been building my travel van lately, and I’ve noticed a trend. Whenever I realize how close I am to “done,” I get… depressed. Just feeling like… blah. Which is strange, because the whole point of this (very expensive) endeavor was to “hit the open road” — to travel all across this great nation, to see all the things.

So… why does the prospect of being done building it fill me with ennui and depression?

I’ve come to realize a few things. First, I’m still — at age 46 — seeking validation primarily in the eyes of others. That’s the Tinder thing. I don’t really want sex… well, I love sex, but I don’t want a relationship and all the complicated things that go along with sex. What I want is that validation — somebody wants me!

And the van… I’m a builder. I make things. I take great delight in building things and showing them off to the world. So the prospect of finishing the van means… no more building (at least, no more building the van). I’ve taken a lot of pleasure in slowly restoring and “kitting out” this old Ford Econoline van, and the thought of… not doing that anymore is depressing. I have to keep reminding myself that the build was always only part of the plan. The travel was a huge part, too.

But even with travel — why? I mean, why travel at all? Part of my brain goes back to the old teenage default of seeking validation through others’ eyes — I’ll be so cool, living in a van. Men will envy me. Women will want me. But, really? Or more so, is that really what I should be chasing after? That’s the brass ring?

Travel is one of those things — like family and a house with a white picket fence — that everyone is supposed to want. It’s an “assumed default” in life. But the reality is I’m a great deal more ambivalent about it. I like the destinations — I like seeing new places, getting a feel for how people in different places live. The feel of the place. The smells. The rhythms. The feel. But the process of traveling is… unpleasant. Uncomfortable. Expensive. Frustrating. Stressful.

I know that I can’t keep chasing validation in the eyes of others. But the problem — circling back to the lede, is that I don’t know what else to do. I don’t just want to live my life on autopilot… doing things that aren’t particularly important to me just because… it’s what I did yesterday.

I suspect on some levels, this is a mid-life crisis. I’m slowly accepting that at 46, I’m not the hot young thing who can go out “cruising for chicks” any more. I’m not fishing for compliments or bashing myself — I know I’m still a fairly attractive man, despite my age, and my intellect and personality are compelling to a lot of women. But that can’t be the basis of my self-esteem. It’s too … mercurial. Too easily lost from one moment to the next; three years ago, I was on top of my game, everyone wanted me, I was sexy, rich, and popular. Now? I’m a hermit, outcast from most of the Burner community, outcast from a lot of social events due to trying to stay sober. And… I’m not sure I want it back. There are a lot of ways in which I like my quiet little life. But, I do get lonely…

So, wrapping this meander up, I’ve been “searching for meaning.” I’ve been trying to look for things that give me joy simply in the doing. Playing with my dogs. Building things — physical and software — that people admire and enjoy. Music.

I’d love to say that I’ve figured it all out, but I haven’t, not by a long shot. All I know is that my life needs to change. I need to start pursuing things that bring me genuine happiness — like building things — and stop chasing after the brass ring of “do people like me.” I need genuine human connection, not an attempt to seek approval.

Stay tuned. My story isn’t over, yet.

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I’m Not Lonely

Not really. Despite almost total social isolation. Despite finally “quitting” social media (or, at least, interacting with them almost never… I think these posts mirror there).

I feel like I should be lonely, but… I’m not. I interact with my coworkers, every day. I interact with my dogs. And soon, I’m going to go live “in a van, down by the river” — I’m going to see the world, and interact with the world.

Maybe bite-sized interactions really are all I need to be happy. Maybe I’m just… different.

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Van Day

Time to take the Big White Van (I need a better name for it) down to the mechanic to see what the bad news is to get it safe, roadworthy, and ready for being turned into a stealth dwelling.

I’m cautiously optimistic. It starts and runs smoothly. There’s a bit of a vibration on acceleration, but it picks up strongly. It runs straight and true, stops easily, and all in all seems pretty mechanically sound. But we shall see — worst case scenario, I resell it and have to start again.

It’s just a van!

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I Met Heather

Some time ago, I met someone named Heather.

This is — was — a beautiful, sexual poly woman. And she had her pick of men; what she said to her (hunky) husband about which of all the men she wanted was “I want Tom!” That’s what she told me, she told him — that was the story.

We dated for a while, and my instability and crazi-tude eventually torpedo’ed it. But to this day, I carry that compliment: “I want Tom!”

She did — for a while, anyway.

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Short Bus Living!

Well, I’m getting excited. I’ve got the job — I make good money, and my boss loves me, so I think I’m in good shape. I’ve got the short bus (okay, a 2001 Ford Econoline E-150 cargo van, but who’s counting?) I’ve got enough money in the bank to take care of the last few items on the checklist (get the van fixed up, buy a few cheap(ish) items, get AAA, etc.) I have basically everything I need to go

And I put together a checklist called “Short Bus Living” which is all of the things I can think of to take care of before I go — from safety stuff (first aid kit, make sure I can secure the dog kennel so my pups don’t become projectiles in an accident) to hygiene (camp shower, porta-potty, check!) to comfort and fun (some kind of decent stereo for teh tunes, and good spare battery power and network boosters for entertainment).

I’m going to start ticking them off, one by one — starting with taking the van to the mechanic tomorrow. That’s the first step — making sure my transportation/home is in good condition.

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