Stacy at Moderate Means inspired this post, when she wrote, “Why I blog”. To her, it was overcoming negative reactions or indifference from people in real life, and finding people online she can relate to. She’s the one who wrote about cloth sandwich bags, (which Jesse vetoed so fast, you’d think I was going to use his favorite tshirts to make them) She is also where I read about cloth Christmas bags (Jesse approved). And peanut butter muffin doughnut type things.
Jenny at Chronically Uncool made sewing dresses, old vintage dresses from vintage patterns, even, look cool. It was cool to me, anyway. It helps that’s she’s funny, and documents her failures as well, if not better than her successes. I don’t know anyone in real life who sews. Clothes. Let alone o l d clothes.
And I just about peed my pants when Thrift Store Mama talked about almost breaking down and crying at a thrift shop when she found a fantastic dollhouse super cheap.
I love reading the blogs, and I love writing them, because it lets me "share back", so to speak. I don't know a lot of people in real life who will be excited about my Dumpstered Board Games or my failed duct tape "dress form". Stacy’s post made me think about how internet affected my life. I’m talking a complete social overhaul, if you will.
(Pull up a chair, this is gonna be long and deep. Think Titanic. Complete with couple tear jerker moments). If you're new, I am not usually this wordy. Well, I am, but I edit out half a post each time I post.
When I heard about people meeting their significant others on the internet, I used to think of them with pity. What tragic lack of social skills. What horrible things have happened to them in their childhood that they can’t just meet people out and about. Last time I went to a grocery store, there were swarms of PEOPLE there. Live, real people. I got a date at a supermarket once. I mean, in my case, it turned out that what I thought were eccentric Orange County highlights under the gentle vegetable isle lights turned out to be a full head of gray next day at lunch. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but I was 25. Three vacation houses in Europe were a nice touch, but at 52 years old, I had to let him go. This teaches us two things:
-Always wear your glasses when shopping in dimly lit grocery store isles.
-You can pick up a strapping lad with 3 European houses in Vons on Bristol Street. (*It was a few years ago, I’m sure that particular one is off the market)
Eharmony? Match.com? Probably all psychotic socially awkward serial killers. The men and the women. Because normal people just meet other people outside. In school. In a library. Etc.
And then I ended up freshly moved to California and single. I really liked SoCal. But I was alone, and sometimes lonely. I had been a member on one message board, where I went at night after work. . My best friend was in Chicago. We talked on the phone. My mom is in Chicago. I knew a couple nice people at work, but for the most part, they were older people with families.
I got good at doing things by myself, which I highly advocate. I was lonely if I sat around the house endlessly. Some people are OK like that. But I missed my friends. I missed people. And after skulking around my apartment for a little while, knee deep in self pity, I started taking myself places, even if I didn’t want to go. This suggestion actually came from the message board I was a member of.
Sometimes, you don’t really realize that you’re being a pathetic loser, until somebody points it out to you. They were gentle, in light of my recent and sudden singledom, so they gently suggested I go out and DO things. I would mentally make a deal with myself, that if I didn’t like it, I wouldn’t ever go again (to that particular venue).
I had never really done stuff by myself. Even if I did snowboarding slopes by myself, I was always meeting my friends later at the bar. Anyway, I went and I never had a bad time. The most awkward part was getting there and getting started. There were groups of people, and couples, and I felt like all of them were pointing at me, going, “Look at that sad chick. She doesn’t even have friends. She’s probably very socially awkward. Possibly a serial killer. Let’s throw a snowball at her”.
I have massive delusions of grandeur, apparently, because in a minute, I’d work myself into thinking that the whole mountain/beach/desert/bar was looking at me like I sprouted a knee out of my forehead.
Of course, nobody ever did. (Except that one time when I camped in Gorman alone, but that was my fault, I was acting w e i r d and deserved sideway looks). I had a great time alone. If I was feeling chatty, I could always corner the person sitting next to me on the lift into a 3 minute long conversation. If this one jumped off early, I’d get another chance at the next lift ride.
The awesome thing about doing things you love is that you can meet other people who do the same thing. It’s almost a guarantee that if you’re out surfing, the other people bobbing on waves around you either really like surfing, beach, and the ocean, or they’re having a really bad day. Either way, they are not there to figure out if you have friends and/or social dysfunctions or not.
Eventually, I was really comfortable doing things by myself. Sometimes I made friends, sometimes I didn't. I didn’t n e e d other people to have fun and be happy. I still think that’s key to being happy.
However, there are things that you do need other people for. Like volleyball. You can’t very well look normal if you try to man both sides of the court. Isn’t good for friend making, either. So, same board, another suggestion: Craigslist.
Ever since that *real* serial killer, Craigslist is kinda under fire. But, if you’re to be smart about it, I think fun can be had. I found a couple volleyball groups, under ‘activites’, went, and had tons of fun. Couple years later, the volleyball groups moved to Meetup.com, where you can search by hobby, and there’s a good chance there are clubs in your area that have groups for that hobby. They have scheduled meetings, trips, etc. Some cost money. Many are free. It depends on the nature of the hobby. My friend Heather found a hiking group there. I am a member of 4 different volleyball groups.
After volleyball, we’d go for food and drinks on the pier. I was meeting people. In real life. Through arranged meetings on internet. Through websites I found because a person on a message board told me. I always eyeballed jealously people playing volleyball on the beach. They must have grown up here. They do this often. They all know each other. I was too shy to just jump in. And now, I was one of those people, playing volleyball, on the beach!
On a couple of different message boards, I posted dirtbike questions. I had this motorcycle, and I had no idea what made it run, even. It is all (still) a mystery. I made friends with 'progirlz'. She was nice. We talked and emailed. She knew stuff about dirtbikes, she rode them, and her husband worked on them. She suggested a couple different sites. I went to dirtbike tracks, and met people she knew (in real life), that she introduced me to on the internet. Three years ago, she invited me to her house on Christmas.
I was telling Jesse on our way to her house this last Christmas about how I had pulled into the neighborhood three years ago, surveyed it for signs of serial killers, and sat parked in the car. I had driven an hour to get there. But this was some internet lady! Jesse and I laughed when her husband was telling us how he had raised eyebrows when she had invited me the first time. “You invited a girl from the internet to dinner? How do you even know it’s a girl?? Is she a serial killer?” What kind of a person even accepts, right? The kind that was reeeeally lonely alone on Christmas.
Anyway. We had dinner. We rode dirtbikes. We chatted. She even got me a box of tea for Christmas. It was like I already knew her. I kinda did.
I now had a REAL LIFE girlfriend who RODE bikes! (Hi Kelli!!) It really couldn’t get better. Not to mention I had a wonderful Christmas that year.
Some time later, ThumperTalk (.com) organized a Ladies Weekend. Ladies, dirtbikes, ranch. For a weekend. When Jesse and I went camping for Thanksgiving, it was really cold, and my friend Denise had made us a bed in her trailer, cause she was pretty sure we would need the space to recover from intermediate frostbite in our tent (we ended up sticking it out, but it almost makes you warmer knowing you have options). Her husband Dave made us a mini turkey dinner in the evening, while Jesse and I watched Star Wars in their trailer.
That night when I awkwardly camped by myself at Gorman, my girlfriend Karen came at 6 am next morning, for a ride. (I was really excited for the rest of the campsite to see that I actually DID have friends. HAH.) My girlfriend Sarah and MaryAnn went with me to Moab Utah, to do some dirtbike riding on a couple different trips. I met all of them at that internet organized Ladies Weekend. You wouldn't even know that a lot of us met on the internet, except sometimes around the campfire, people call me Snork.
My friend Heather is coming over tonight with the kids, we can talk about how terrible gym was yesterday. Heather came from that very first board, that pushed me towards Craigslist and Meetups. We’ve only been hanging out for a little over a year, but it feels like I know her longer. I kinda did, before we started walk/jog/jalking together. She was funny on that message board. (She turned out to not be a serial killer also, which pleased me). A little more than a year ago some guy was actively stalking my posts on that same board. Such a creep. And then he got himself a dirtbike, moved down to SoCal, and asked me to marry him this last Christmas.
Every time I moved to a new place, I would feel like that’s IT, this time I’m *definitely* too old to make new friends. Everybody else *already* has friends.
I have awesome friends in ‘real life’, but if I thought about it, I could trace back how it all started, and it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
*PS. If one WAS to go internet route, please use caution. I brought pepper spray to my SECOND date with Jesse, and was ready to douse him with it head to toe if he were to turn a slightest shade of shady. I brought it to the first date with Heather, too, but I looked her over and decided I could take her manually if need be.
*PPS Craigslist is like, 2/8 ratio of normal/possible serial killer. Keep that in mind. I once sold a desk there, and the guy called me later to tell me it fell out of the truck on the 405 and cause massive accidents. He was kidding. Apparently, he thought mass fatalities on the 405 were funny. Talk about socially awkward.
*PPPS I just LOVE Eharmony commercials. It puzzles Jesse every time, but I just think it’s the greatest thing ever. It’s like my internet friends thing, but people are bypassing ‘friends’ and going straight for husband/wife. Flippin awesome. I know 3 success stories from there. I would be curious to know if there are any failure stories. Somewhere, there must be a message board for that. But I’d probably have to pay a monthly due..