Not My Natural Habitat

I have never been a party person.

Now, let me elaborate on “party”. I am fine with parties with groups of friends (or even friends of friends who are strangers to me) hanging out at a friend’s house and talking, playing board-games, and eating and drinking. That is an awesome party! I love those parties.

But parties at a building I have never gone to that are dark and crowded with strangers all standing around and yelling at one another because the music is so loud? I am freaked out. 

Only once in college did I go to a Frat Party, mainly because one of my best friends begged and pleaded with me to join her. In my group of friends in college the minority of us enjoyed hanging out, watching movies, and playing games. The majority liked to go to parties. Usually I was able to hide away in my room with the excuse of homework every time there was a party. Everyone knew I was just reading, and that was my type of night. But I had that one friend that would always beg me to go with her to parties and somehow I’d escape her persuasion.

Except for that one time I didn’t and was forced to go a Frat Party. It was terrifying. There were people everywhere, insanely loud music, and dark so I couldn’t see who was around me. I huddled so close to my friend that she wasn’t able to move around freely, which is why she probably never asked me to join her again at a party.

I usually avoid parties like that but will sometimes join my friends if I want to see them and be involved. It’s the difference between feeling like I’m being forced into a situation I don’t like versus agreeing to go into a situation I don’t like because I’m curious about what it will be like. The weekend of Halloween was like that – my boyfriend was out of town and I wanted to spend time with my friends. They were going to an after-hour party in a Chinese restaurant at 11pm that night. Yes, you read that correctly. An after-hour party in a Chinese restaurant. The five dollar charge included a free Chinese buffet.

I was super curious about this concept of a party in a Chinese restaurant, and the free buffet didn’t hurt either.

We arrive there at 11:15pm and there was already a line out the door. I’d never been to a party where there was a bouncer at the door, so I awkwardly stood there waiting my turn. I glanced around at the people (who looked way more cool and laid-back than I did) and talked to my friends (who also looked way more cool and laid-back than I did). I slowly edged closer to one of my friends, as if her presence would protect me from social interaction.  By the time we were stamped and ushered into the building I was glued to that friend.

I’d been to eat at this restaurant before. It was a bright place with a little koi pond in the middle and pandas painted on the walls. I hardly recognized it now. It was dark with music pumping and a smoke machine making it so hazy the koi pond and pandas looked sinister. I knew I wasn’t in my normal scene right then and there, but I couldn’t just run out the door in front of all the people. Plus, there was a crowd behind me blocking the way.

There’s something else you need to know about my friends as well. We’re all pretty awkward and weird, yet that doesn’t stop them from getting out and having fun. But I could tell the two I was with didn’t really know what to do at this place, possibly because we had all eaten here before and seeing a party in place of a Chinese restaurant was kinda odd. I figure that the pictures of sinister pandas on the wall didn’t really help either.

We made our way over to a booth, sat down, looked at each other and said together: “This is weird.”

We sat there for a bit, watching people come in with drinks and greet everyone by yelling over the music, and then I asked the important question: “Where’s the free buffet?”

It was a small Chinese buffet with rice, chicken, spring rolls, and crab Rangoon. It was all pretty good and what you’d expect from a free Chinese buffet. I would have gone back for seconds but the larger crowd kept me back. While I usually have no trouble fighting my way over to the food, the atmosphere kept my stomach in check.

After we ate we hung out in the booth talking/yelling at one another and watching the people.

“Alright,” a friend said after a longer pause, “we should do something while we’re here. Let’s boogie or bounce.”

I was totally down with bouncing by then as the desire to run was slowly creeping up on me. (And if I couldn’t have a second plate of food there was obviously no reason to stay.) But my friends decided to boogie for their 5$. And I can’t boogie for the life of me. I stood there awkwardly, holding my purse and swaying side to side while my friends did almost the same thing, except they looked more at ease than I did.

Finally, after an hour and a half, we bounced. As we left there were people still lined up to come inside so we also had to find a path through a crowd and step over broken beer bottles that had been dropped.

“That was weird,” we all said again, but none of us (including myself) could think of it as a wasted evening. Because when we all saw the event of an after-hour party in a Chinese restaurant we were all curious.

“If we hadn’t gone,” one of my friends said, “we would have wondered what this was like. Not knowing is 10x worse…an now we know what happens here.”

Knowing what happens once a Chinese restaurant closes for a party was worth placing myself in a situation I usually don’t find myself in. Plus, free Chinese food!

College Awkwardness Continues

You’d think that once I graduated from college I wouldn’t have to deal with any awkwardness on a college campus, right? Well, wrong.  I am a professor at a community college, so even 7 years after I graduated from my undergraduate school I am still making an awkward mess of myself.

“Pancakes”

Whenever I get to my class I usually stand at the teacher’s station getting everything ready for class. I am also avoiding eye contact with all of my students because I get stage fright if I watch them come in. Luckily many of the students aren’t that interested in chatting with me before class (after all, they have a whole hour and 20 mins to do that) so I am able to mentally prepare myself.

However, sometimes I’ll hear a bit of what they are talking about and I’ll randomly jump into the conversation. Usually the students are good sports about it, especially if I can give them information about what they were talking about.

Once, while I was getting ready I overheard one of the student’s conversation:”….pancakes-“

“Pancakes?” I immediately said, my head popping up from behind the computer I was working on.

The student stared at me. “Um, yeah…I had pancakes for breakfast…Do you like pancakes?”

“Love them,” I cheerfully answered and then went back to what I was doing. I heard snickers from the classroom.

Now if I am working on something and don’t see that a student has their hand raised, a student will say “Pancakes” to get my attention.

They are smart students.

“Talkin’ Shit”

Recently while walking on campus a student came up to me, looked at me, and asked “Do you know who’s been talkin’ shit about me?”

I stopped and looked at him, “What? Who are you?”

He gave me a weird look and then I heard someone behind me say, “I don’t know man.”

The guy was talking to his friend who was walking right behind me. You know when you think someone is looking at you and waving or talking to you, so you respond, and it turns out they were actually looking at the person directly behind you?

I live in fear of those situations, for obvious reasons.

“Wrong Classroom”

Every student’s first-day fear is going into the wrong classroom and having to decide either leave the classroom (amidst giggles) or just stick it out and miss the class they are actually enrolled in. Luckily I have never walked into the wrong classroom and started teaching Freshman English to a Statistics class (yet).

However, a while back (in the middle of the semester) I was walking back with a student to our classroom. We had been to a computer lab to print off something and we talking about her assignment. I turned into our classroom, looked up at the board and saw equations written on it. One of the math teachers was lecturing the class and glanced at me before continuing on.

I could have just backed up slowly, but instead I decided to announce “This is not my classroom” as I left (scaring a few of the math students in the back row).

The student, who had apparently not followed me into the wrong classroom, was silent for a second. “That was embarrassing,” she finally remarked.

I’m pretty sure she was talking about embarrassing for me. Thank you, child.

“We’re Talking About Poop”

Thankfully the community college I work at does not have a cafeteria – I say thankfully because I’d probably gain back the Freshman 20 lbs again. I do hope that my students get to experience a college dinning hall one day after they’ve left, because it is there that your education on food really begins.

One of the students was thinking about transferring to my Alma Mater and I was telling the class about how much I enjoyed it there. The student cafeteria came up mainly because that is where my friends and I did most of our socializing (which is also why I gained so much weight in college).

“The food was not good,” I said, “but many cafeterias aren’t. It was there I learned how to figure out what to eat if I had a class right after lunch or dinner. For example, the grilled cheese sandwich. It was so good, but was a God damned colon cleanser. After you ate that you’d better be near a bathroom for the next 15mins, because when it hit – it hit. And not genitally either. It was a damn tsunami. I made that mistake in class once. It hit in the middle of a quiz and I failed that quiz. I turned it in half down, sweat running down my face, and dashed out of the room. Luckily the teacher realized my rookie mistake in regards to the grilled cheese sandwich and let me retake it after class.”

“If it made you have to go to the bathroom,” one hesitant/curious student asked, “then why’d you eat it?”

“Cause it was freaking amazing. What, you’ve never eaten something so delicious that the aftermath was totally worth it?”

He nodded wisely. “Taco Bell,” he added.

I didn’t agree, but okay. As we discussed Taco Bell a student came in late. She mouthed a “sorry”, but I (without thinking) reassured her, “Oh we haven’t started class yet. We’re talking about poop.”

She stared at me in amazement and glanced at her friend.

“It’s true,” he said.

“Awkward or Funny”

On one of my elevations a student wrote just that: “I don’t know if she’s very awkward or very funny.”

I don’t know either.

Strangers in my Home

After much overthing – debating, I mean – I decide to sell my condo. The expense is too much for an adjunct teacher to keep up with, and I’d rather have a smaller place that I can afford without wondering if I’ll have enough money for groceries. The good news is I accidentally flipped my place when I bought it, so I can get a lot of money in the sell. (How does one “accidentally” flip a home? Well, my place was crap when I bought it [crappy like the 70s threw up all over it, and not in a cool way, in puke green shag carpet and large daisy wallpaper kind of way] and I made a lot of repairs to make it nice and livable. The accidentally flipping it comes from the fact that I didn’t exactly plan on moving out of it.)

On the day my realtor came to take pictures I started having anxiety, but not from my decision to sell. It was from the fact that I would be homeless soon.

“You aren’t going to be homeless,” my mom has said (many times). “You and the cat will live with me until you get another place.”

“But it won’t be my home – so I’ll be homeless. With no space of my own!”

“After the sale,” my mom continues (ignoring me, obviously), “you’ll get an affordable place and have a home.”

“And until then I’ll be homeless!”

My mom then stopped answering my texts and calls for a few hours.

I have also been feeling guilty because of my decision to sell mainly thanks to my cat. I’ll look over at her laying in the sun, all happy, relaxed, and drunk on sunlight and think, “She wont have the sun to relax in soon!” (Mom: “The sun shines at my place too!”)

I’m not sure if Arwen (the cat) is happily sunbathing on purpose to make me feel guilty, but she’s definitely getting pissed at all the showings we’ve have since I’ve had to take her to my mom’s. Before all of this she didn’t mind getting in her carrier since it didn’t happen all the time. Now she lets out this pathetic little whimper as I put her in, which she knows breaks my heart. Then, while at my mom’s, she’ll refuse to come out of the carrier for a while, go to the door and cry, and then get into someone’s lap and look sad.

No one can make you feel guilty quite like a cat.

Besides dealing with the guilt-trip, I also have strangers coming into my condo at least 3-4 times a week. I usually have an hour or so before the prospective buyers come, so I have to sweep dirt under the rug (Cinderella eat your heart out), clean up my clothes and books, and grab the cat (who now knows to hide when I start cleaning in a hurry). Sometimes they’ll even get there 15 minuets early, so the prospective buyers and their realtor get to hear my frantic call out for a few more seconds as I hide my clutter and try to catch my cat.

It’s always really awkward when I meet the prospective buyers  outside my door. I never know what to say to them or if I should make eye contact. I once called out, “Enjoy my house!” as I lugged a cat carrier (complete with wailing cat) to the group waiting to come in. Usually I try to keep my eyes lowered and think about not saying anything.

So far there have been no offers, and now another condo down the street has been put on the market. It’s much prettier than mine, but more expensive. I now glare at it every time I drive by. I’m really not made for this type of market of buying-and-selling, and I’m pretty sure my realtor thinks I’m slightly weird (which is great as she’s also my boyfriend’s roommate’s step-mother…Can you tell that was written sarcastically?).

I’ll just keep thinking about how this won’t be forever, I’ll make a financial gain for the better, and soon it’ll all be over (and as I type this my anxiety adds “You don’t know when it will all be over…could be months…a year…”). And hopefully I’ll never have to move again.

I Am A Veterinarian’s Worst Nightmare

This starts off sad, but does have a hopeful/happy ending (depending on who went to the vet I suppose).

Not long ago my mom’s cat, Silver, died. It’s been really hard on her since she loved that cat. He was her cat. The cat she got to replace me, her only child, when I went off to college. And while that cat and I didn’t see eye-to-eye (possibly because I would sneak up behind him, poke his side, and say “Kitty!” really loudly), I was sad he was gone. I was even more heartbroken for my mom. Luckily he went quickly with little pain, but he went so quickly that no one really had the chance to brace themselves (as what sometimes happens in these cases).

Because of the suddenness of Silver’s death I quickly made an appointment for my 10+ year old cat, Arwen. Arwen is my cat. My shadow. My constant companion. When I saw that little black kitten in the shelter’s kitten playpen I had to have her. And thinking about Silver made me worry about losing my cat as well.

There seemed to be nothing wrong with Arwen (besides a stuffed up nose that made her spew snot everywhere when she sneezed), but I wanted a doctor to tell me she was okay. This was the same veterinarian office my mom went to so they understood my worry.

But this also marked a new point in my life because this was the first time I took Arwen to the vet on my own. You may wonder how a person almost 30 years old managed to do that, but it’s mainly because when I did take Arwen I was worried about her and needed the emotional support. My mom had actually been a great buffer while at the vet because I am basically a helicopter parent at the pediatrician. I’m the type of “parent” who asks and prods when it comes to their kids, and the doctor just sits there thinking, “Damn. Stop asking questions.” When my mom went with me before she was able to interrupt me so I wouldn’t spend so much time asking so many freaking questions. Logically I knew she was right about calming down, but this is my baby. (And my emotions always win over my head anyways.)

So, when the vet walked in with his assistant, I picked Arwen up, put her on the table, and launched into this (unprompted) speech:

“So my mom’s cat, Silver, you may know about him, he died last week from cancer. I’m his owner’s daughter. Silver and Arwen weren’t litter mates but they lived together for years, and I just want to make sure Arwen is okay. Not that she could catch cancer from Silver, but I do want her looked over. She seems healthy. She’s pooping and peeing regularly. Poops every other day and pees a lot every day. She doesn’t eat much, never really has been interested in food, but I leave out dry food all the time and give her wet food every night. Most of that is gone by the morning – the wet food, I mean. She’s also had the same personality recently: playing and cuddling all the same. She does seem to get stuffy noses and colds a lot. Her snot ranges from light green to clear, and I know this because when she sneezes snot goes everywhere. These colds and stuffy noses happen once every 1-2 months. But other than the stuffy noses and colds, she seems healthy.”

By the end of my speech I realized that the vet, his assistant, and my cat were all looking at me in shock. Their faces all collectively saying, “Holy shit, what was that?”

“So yeah,” I said, glancing away from them and eyeing the floor, “That’s it. I just need to know she’s not…um, dying. Dying soon.”

It was silent for a moment. It was probably only a second but it felt like 5 minutes. After that second of silence I couldn’t take it anymore and observed, “That was a lot.”

“Well,” the vet said and seemed to be finding the right words to express his thoughts, but all that came out was “…yeah. Let’s…let’s just check Arwen out, okay?”

I watched anxiously as he felt of her body, listened to her heart, and looked in her eyes and ears. All the while I’m wondering What does he see? What does he think? What’s he doing?

But embarrassment kept me silent and when they took her out into the clinic to draw some blood for tests, I thumped my head onto the examination table. I reached for my phone and texted one of my friends who also has cats:

Totally just went helicopter parent at the veterinarian’s office. I think I embarrassed my cat too.

By that time the vet had come back with Arwen I had gotten a text back saying, “Dear god, your mom let you go alone?” My habit of asking too many questions at the doctor is legendary.

But my anxiety bounced back because the vet hadn’t spoken in 5 seconds, so I gasped and asked“Oh my gosh, is everything okay?”

“Yeah,” the vet said slowly, “we just drew some blood, so it’ll be a wek before the results come in.”

The vet began to talk about what he thought was wrong with her in regards to her constant stuffy noses and what he prescribed. He suggested a shot that would help her clear up an infection in the nasal cavity.

“Will it reduce her life and kill her?” I immediately ask.

That was not the question the vet was expecting and did a double take. “What? No. It should help clear up her nose.”

“Okay,” I said brightly, “let’s do it!”

Once he had given her the shot I began my next question:“Any side effects or – ”

“Nope,” he says quickly, obviously done with this appointment, “She’ll just sleep all day.”

When I got back into the car I look over at Arwen, who was in her pink cat carrier on the passenger seat.

“So, that went well,” I say.

She puffed up and glared at me.

img_20160501_194338.jpg
I tried to get a picture of her bald spot on her throat (where they shaved her to get a blood sample). She was not amused.

UPDATE: The veterinarian’s office called not that long ago to tell me that all of Arwen’s tests came back fine and she is a healthy kitty. The shot of medicine that she got has done wonders and she no longer sneezes snot balls everywhere.

It’s Called Pokemon Go-To-Them, Not Pokemon Come-To-You

Less than a month ago the infamous Pokemon Go game came out and the world rejoiced. Kinda. Some people really don’t like it. But I am not one of those people anymore.

I had no idea what it really was when it was about to launch. I knew what a Pokemon was even though I’ve never watched the show, and I had seen some of my friends posting about the game on Facebook. When it finally came out I heard all about the fun everyone was having and also all of the complaints everyone else had. Such as, “You kids get out of my yard!” and “Don’t walk into traffic with your eyes glued to your phone!”.

A week after the release I had dinner with my friend from college, Travis, and he gave me the low-down on the game. I began to see it wasn’t just a game you could place on your phone, but one where you psychically had to go somewhere. Our other friend from college, Scott, showed up after dinner and they both ditched me to go hunt Pokemon.

“Are you serious?” I asked.

“Well get the game,” Scott said. “It’s free. What else have you got to do?”

“I’m playing Neko Atsume!” I said proudly and got my phone out to show him. )If you are unaware, Neko Atsume is a Japanese cat game that is basically Crazy Cat-Lady the Game.)

“See? You put out food and these cats come and leave you fish so you can buy more food and toys! And they also leave presents ! You have to take pictures of all the cats and collect all their gifts. Isn’t cute?”

Neko Atsume
My “yard” in Neko Atsume (aka Crazy Cat-Lady the Game). Look at all the cute little kitties! 😀

Scott frowned at my phone filled with cute computerized cats and then slowly looked back at my beaming, happy face. “Wow,” he finally said, “See, this is why you actually need Pokemon Go.”

“I don’t want to go all over the place looking for Pokemon. They should just come to me like my kitties do. It should be Pokemon Come-To-Me.”

“Well its called called Pokemon Go-To-Them,” Travis added and I was then unceremoniously dumped for that evening.

The next run-in I had with Pokemon Go was at my boyfriend’s place the following weekend. We were watching TV when his roommate came home from a party looking tired and ragged, as if he’d been run over by a bus a few times, but had the facial expression that it was all totally worth it. He started towards his room upstairs, telling us he was going to sleep for a week, but then 5 mins later he came racing back through the living room looking much more alive.

“There’s a Pokemon at the mailbox!” he cried as he darted out the front door.

I was amazed that free app game could cause this much excitement, and even more surprised at the amount of hate for the game on social media. I got to see both sides of the argument but really liked how it seemed to be helping people with depression. It was getting people outside and enjoying being with a group of people that they didn’t really have to talk to since they were hunting Pokemon.

Then, a week ago I saw the results first hand. I met up with some friends that I hadn’t seen since the game came out and I noticed a huge change in one of my friends. She had been struggling with depression for most of the year, but this time she seemed to have a bit of a spark back in her eyes. She and another friend were talking about their trip to a park to hunt Pokemon and what had happened at a Pokemon Go meetup. I didn’t say anything but I was secretly excited that she seemed to be getting outside again – and she looked fitter as well.

I asked her and another friend more about the game and they excitedly told me about it – how they had gone to parks and done all this walking to hatch Pokemon eggs.

“What do I do when I get the Pokemon? Do I have to take care of them?” I asked.

“No. It isn’t a Tamagotchi or virtual pet,” they said.

“Do I have to love them?”

One of my friends thought that was incredibly amusing. “No, this isn’t like the TV show. Just throw balls at them.”

Not having to take care of the Pokemon finally sealed the game for me and I downloaded it. And then I have no idea what I was doing for a few hours. I walked around my neighborhood a bit, but no Pokemon live near me. I contacted my college friends, Travis and Scott, to see when they were going hunting again. Luckily they were going the next night and I agreed to join them at a local park.

When we got to the park I saw more people than I have ever seen playing on their phones and talking about Pokemon. And I’m not just talking about kids – there were all different ages, races, and classes of people playing. Big, tough looking guys were prowling around looking for a Bulbasaur, little kids were chasing after Rattatas and Pidgeys, college kids were looking for Charamanders, and elderly people were scanning the lake area for Magikarp.

I had never seen anything like this. I quickly took out my phone, listened to my friends’ sagely advice (“Just lob balls at the imaginary monsters”), and went hunting. And had a lot of fun doing so. Since I was level 2 I only got the lower level Pokemon, but I quickly learned to enjoy the search. We ended up walking 3 miles around the park and were out until our phones died.

That weekend, when I saw my boyfriend Mike, he noticed me hovering over my phone while he was playing a computer game.

“Kitty game?” he asked as he made multiple clicks on the keyboard and mouse to make his character attack.

Pokemon Go,” I said and then held up my phone for him to see, “You don’t live in a Pokemon infested area either.”

He looked over at me and frowned, “Damn it. Not you too.”

Screenshot_2016-08-01-20-02-40
My triumph, but not really. I was able to sneak a space into a gym once my friends beat it. This is why you have stronger leveled friends, especially when your strongest Pokemon is 182 cp…

Likable Trait: Awkwardness

If anyone asks what I’m like they’ll immediately say something along the lines of, “Oh she’s that awkward girl.”

Not “Oh, she’s that girl with blond hair that likes to read” or “She’s that chick who likes cats.”

Or even “She’s that drop, dead beautiful girl who stole my heart away and I simply live each day so I may gaze upon her beauty.”

Nope, it’s always: “She’s that awkward girl you met.”

Until college I didn’t realize that awkwardness could be a trait, and frankly neither did any of my friends until they met me. But awkward is the only real way to describe myself. I looked awkward up in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary and it said: “1.) Not graceful. 2.) Lacking skill. 3.) Difficult to use.”

I kinda frowned at #2 (“Lacking Skill”) and #3 (“Difficult to use”) because I wasn’t sure if I could be described as that. Sure, I can “lack skill” when I’m nervous and talking to people, so I’ll trip over my words just to finish my thought leaving people slightly surprised and confused. And, frankly, sometimes walking in a straight line is difficult (and sadly, I don’t drink). I lack skills in math as well, but I bake some pretty awesome cookies. I can also be difficult to deal with (as I’ve been told), but “use”? I don’t know. I’m pretty naive and gullible, so maybe that goes into my awkward trait.

I will have to agree with the “not graceful” part. For example: As I’m walking in a room with a lot of tables, this being either a cafeteria, restaurant, or even a library, I will say to myself to easily swerve around the tables. But, even as I’m carefully paying attention to my movements, I will undoubtedly hit the edge of my table with my hip. While it’s embarrassing enough to hit a table that someone else may be using, hitting it loud enough that the whole room hears it and your muffled yelp is just extra. Always followed with “Ooooo. Watch where you’re going” from a stranger.

Yes, thank you, I think as I limp away with as much dignity as I can muster.

Strangely, sometimes simply moving a few steps can be dangerous. As I’m standing in front of a classroom lecturing and move slightly to write something on the board, I have to be careful that I don’t trip over my own damn feet. I haven’t fallen in class yet, but it’s coming. And I will blog about it when it does. (Side note: You’re probably thinking Holy crap, this woman is a teacher?! And the answer is yes, yes I am. I am teach college English. That’s right – I am teaching America’s future. Terrifying, huh?)

But really the only way I can prove that I’m awkward (and it’s really weird I am defending my awkwardness) is to write about examples in my life. And that’s what the purpose of this blog is – to write about how awkward I am and how I deal (awkwardly) with life.

PS: If you scroll down further of Merriam-Webster’s definition of “awkward”, there is a section entitled “Related to awkward” with a picture of cat that has a lampshade on its head and next to it reads: “OMG. This Is So Awkward. Merp.”

This speaks to me on many levels.

Awkward Merp