Tuesday, 28 January 2014

When Anxiety Meets Introversion: Calamity.

Last week I attended a professional development class as part of my training for my new gig at the local college. I’ve been attending a lot of these lately, and I gotta say, they totally freak me out. Everyone seems so excited to be working there—which shouldn’t be surprising, I guess, but when you’ve worked in as many places as I have, you meet a lot of unhappy employees. More than happy ones, frankly. Anyway, all these happy people had me wondering what it is they’re slipping into the Kool-Aid, which is awfully pessimistic of me considering I’m just as excited to be there, too. Plus, the instructor is just amazing, funny, and engaging. I know: how can this be WORK???

Yes. I put socks on the dog. ONE TIME.
Anyway, last week was a rough week for me. Probably the easiest way to explain what happened is to share the phone call I gave to my bestie, MJ, after I left.

MJ: Hello?

JORDAN: Okay, I just had the worst class ever. And it’s totally my own fault.

MJ: What?! Why?

JORDAN: Well, first off the class is full of all these extroverts, okay? So everyone is all happy and jokey and having a great time. Anyway, so we watched this video of Sir Ken Robinson, talking about the ADHD epidemic and what’s wrong with the current educational system. Somewhere in the video, he said, “People learn best in groups”, which is fine I suppose, but in the ensuing class discussion, so many teachers were saying this just proved that group work is super valuable. Even though students hate it and they fight us on it every time.

MJ: Okay…

JORDAN: So when it was my turn to talk, I was all frazzled and I knew I had this really unpopular thing to say, but I wanted to say it. I said that learning in a group wasn’t always about group work, and that there was other ways to learn in a group. I said that for some of us who are introverted, we come to class and gather the information but do our actual learning when we get home. I said that as an introvert, sitting around in a circle makes me really uncomfortable.

MJ: Okay…fair…maybe a little blunt, though.

JORDAN: Yeah, no kidding! It just came out, though! It was all my anxiety and my introversion rolled into one giant statement that basically when you think about it, said, “I hate being in this discussion right now and I just want to go home away from all you people!” We took a break right after that and I ended up skulking outside because I felt like such a dork.

MJ: [laughing] Oh dear.

JORDAN: Okay, so if that wasn’t bad enough, when I got back in I was determined to try to be like the extroverts.

MJ: And pretend you don’t have an anxiety disorder.

From Hyperbole and a Half. SO good. Check it out.
JORDAN: Yeah. That too. So anyway, I was sitting at the front of the class and I just kept smiling, smiling, smiling. I figured if I smiled enough, I would look friendly. You remember that Hyperbole And A Half where she says depression makes you forget how to interact with people? Well so does working for yourself, when you work from home. MJ, the only other conversation I’d had that day was with Corben, and it involved me asking him, “Who has a monkey butt?” over and over again.

MJ: Hahahahaha.

JORDAN: So anyway, I’m smiling away, and then the instructor tells us we’re going to do a sort of personality test type thing. She says here are five shapes: a circle, square, triangle, rectangle, and squiggle. She says, go stand by the one that best represents you.

MJ: You went with squiggle.

JORDAN: Of course I did, and lucky for me it was the one assigned to my corner of the room, so I didn’t even have to move. But as people started coming over to join the squiggle group, I realized that these are all the loud, boisterous, excited people. I was like, “Holy frak, I’m in the wrong group.” The instructor said we could move if we thought we were in the wrong place, but I’d be damned if I was going to walk around that room, after my “I hate people” speech, looking for a group to be a part of!

MJ: Ohhh dear.

JORDAN: Yeah. Anyway, it worked out okay because it turns out I am a squiggle, but just not the laughy-loud type. I kept having trouble getting people to hear me and that made my anxiety worse, and now my face was hurting from trying to smile so much.

MJ: Ohhhh, honey. What a rough night.

JORDAN: Well, it all came to a head after the exercise, when people were presenting their notes about their personality groups, and at some point I thought I heard someone applaud. Looking back, I think it was a book falling over, because it was just one loud crack sound. Anyway, it was too late: I was trying so hard to fit in with the regular folk that I`d just taken that as a cue to start clapping. So then I was just clapping and clapping, the only one in the room clapping. And smiling maniacally.

MJ: [Can’t talk because she’s laughing so hard.]

JORDAN: This is why the only person I talk to all day is my dog.

Despite all this, I’m having a great time learning, and all these people are so incredibly nice. There’s just no way to explain to a non-introvert, sans-anxiety disorder, what goes wrong with you when you’ve got these traits and you’re stuck in an interactive group situation. I got home and Alan asked me how my night went and it took me fifteen minutes to start talking.

It’s probably best I’m getting out of the house more. The dog has things to do and can’t always be answering my pressing questions, like whether he knows he has a monkey butt. 

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Why The World Needs Tree Day

I invented a holiday called Tree Day. Why? Here's an example: this is how a conversation went down in my house last night, between myself and one of those speech-recognition call answering systems.

ROBOT: Welcome to Telus. Please tell me what I can help you with!

JORDAN: Account balance. [Drowned out by puppy squeaking his new 17-squeaker Chinese dragon plushie: squeaky-squeak-a-squeaky-squeaky-squeak-a-squeaky-squeak...]

ROBOT: I'm sorry, I didn't catch that. How can I help you?

JORDAN: Account balance! [squeaky-squeak-a-squeaky-squeaky-squeak-a-squeaky-squeak...]

ROBOT: I'm sorry, I didn't catch that. How can I help you?

JORDAN: ACCOUNT BALANCE! [squeaky-squeak-a-squeaky-squeaky-squeak-a-squeaky-squeak...]

ROBOT: Could you repeat that, please? I didn't catch it.

JORDAN: [to Corben] HEY! Shut UP! [to Robot]: BALANCE! [squeaky-squeak-a-squeaky-squeaky-squeak-a-squeaky-squeak...]

ROBOT: I'm sorry, I didn't catch that. How can I help you?

ALAN [doing dishes in the kitchen]: Why do I need to shut up and what do you want me to balance? [squeaky-squeak-a-squeaky-squeaky-squeak-a-squeaky-squeak...]

JORDAN: Not you, Alan. Shut up.

ROBOT: I'm sorry, I didn't--

ALAN: Just tell me what you want me to balance!!!

ROBOT: I'm sorry, I didn't--

JORDAN: For Fuck's SAKE, not you, Alan! Corben! STOP SQUEAKING! Jesus fucking Christ! The two of you need to shuttup for like two sec--

ROBOT: Okay, I'm going to transfer you to an operator and see if she can help.

Yeah, so we're all going a bit crazy, stuck indoors during this particularly freezing cold winter, and today is Tree Day. What is Tree Day, you may ask? Tree Day is something I made up. Tree Day came to be when I realized that January is freakin' depressing, and we all need to remember that there's life after winter. Why January 23rd? Because that was the day I got my braces on, in grade four; and it was the day I got my braces off in grade eight. It just seems to be a good day most years. It's also about a month after Christmas, when everything just feels dark and sad and you've already worn holes your new Christmas socks.

I usually celebrate Tree Day by buying a plant. It reminds the senses that there are green things growing out there, somewhere. Thus the name, 'Tree Day': it was the thing I missed most by January 23, big lush green trees.

I also light some candles because they make the dark evenings feel so much less dark, and sometimes I get a treat. Maybe you'll have some ideas of your own? Share them if you're willing to.

Tree Day is a chance to have a quiet personal celebration, without the stress of family holidays. Give it a try. Buy yourself a little potted plant, light some candles, have a bath. Make a special dinner. Go on a date. Crawl under the blankets and watch a good movie. Go dancing. Tell winter that you're on to it: you know it's only temporary, and you know the secret weapons of vitamin D and steel drum music.

And don't worry if your plant dies. Mine usually do. If you're nervous, try a succulent; they're hard to kill and super cute. If you're really nervous, get a cactus: you can't even tell when they do kick off.

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

A Wedding Dress with No Wedding

The dress that is THE dress I wanted years ago,
at Handmade Bride right now.
So I’m officially divorced now. Well, as of New Year’s eve, I was. Everything is amicable now, and it all went smoothly, and I even exchanged gifts with The Boy (my ex) over Christmas. Like, it’s all done—even the crying.

And then I go check on The Handmade Bride, the local bridal boutique I have a crush on…because I’m a sucker for punishment, I guess. Because I ended up hating my own dress, I guess. Because she offers everything handmade and I love that, and her dresses are modern and adorable and can be custom-done to your taste or look or price tag.

And yeah…it’s killing me. Because every dress I see on there is prettier than the last. So today she posted a picture of a lace dress with a keyhole back and this blush underlay, and I realized, this is THE dress I was looking for when I got married, but I couldn’t find it. There it is, and me with no intention of heading down an aisle ever again.

Is there any reason why a grown woman would buy herself a wedding dress without a wedding to wear it to? Could I write this off as a psychiatric expense? Because I’m pretty sure buying this dress would work better than the same dollar value of Xanax, Prozac, or Celexa combined. I have nowhere to wear it, which is of course a bit of a hiccup; I suspect that wearing it while doing errands would probably result in me being locked up in a psych ward somewhere, which means the purpose would be defeated. The dress would not scratch this emotional itch I have. Right?
Another kickass dress at The Handmade Bride.
Buy all the dresses!

Honestly, I think maybe this is my subconscious sharing its terror that I may truly never be married again. My conscious is okay with this decision—it was truly a conscious decision. But my subconscious has this vision of walking down a pathway and starting off a lifelong partnership with one day full of perfect, ephemeral beauty. Like maybe if you start your journey off with a bang, the inevitable slow decline won’t actually dip below sea level.

I’m not sure if you’re following all of that. Just…keep up if you can. Owning one more wedding dress somehow feels like I’m shouting at the world, “Okay, fine! I won’t get married again! But not getting married doesn’t mean I don’t get to have one more day looking transcendentally beautiful!” I feel like getting myself a dress is my way of saying, I don’t need to get married to be worthy of something this grand. Because when else is a woman ever told she’s worth something as elaborate and grand as a wedding?

There’s no wrap-up on this post. I’m turning off the computer and stepping away from the wedding dress photos before I end up on Pinterest and all hell breaks loose.

Friday, 17 January 2014

You're Invited to a Party, Geek Girls!

It’s been a little quiet here on Girl, Crafted for the last couple weeks, and avid readers may have wondered why…they may have also suspected something was up. Well, you were right: something’s been up. Something awesome.

About a year ago, I started an online fanclub called Capital Geek Girls. This fanclub, based off Facebook,
was meant to foster acceptance and welcoming for girls and women who enjoy geeky pursuits (see: gaming, comic books, superheroes, sci-fi, fantasy, RPG’s, boardgames, MTG, cosplay, anime, etc). The fanclub quickly grew and we began a partnership with Ottawa’s coolest place, The Comic Book Shoppe; they became our real-life headquarters, and we hosted various ladies’ events at the Shoppe. But CGG continued to grow, and in many ways it started to take over a lot of air time on Girl, Crafted.

CapitalGeekGirls.com will officially launch at the end of the month, but I have to talk about it now, because I’m so freakin’ excited. CGG will transition from a simple meme-and event-sharing fanclub to a full-on blog-azine. We’ve got over a dozen contributing authors lined up and already typing away. We’re doing all sorts of articles on all sorts of things. We’re inviting only sponsors who commit to furthering the inclusion of geek girls. We’re super excited. Oh, and we’re having a party.

I hope you’ll join us to kick off this great bit of news and all the hard work of our authors and (ahem) the hard-working editor (that’s me!). All genders are invited, and we’re going to be adding new goodies, treats, and fun to the event in the next couple weeks, so don’t worry if you’re not a huge gamer—neither am I. But if anyone wants to challenge me to Mario Kart played upside-down hanging off a couch, I accept your challenge!

This is big, folks. This is taking our geekhood to a new level. Support the movement!

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Yoga Pants and A Lost Puppy

This morning the puppy got out of the house. I was cutting up herbs to put into some new jars when I
suddenly felt a wintry breeze on the back of my legs; I looked around the corner to find that the front door, which hasn’t been closing properly, had blown open. Naturally, Corben was nowhere to be found.

Pure, unadulterated panic overtook me. I ran outside, slipping around in my furry slippers, calling hysterically for him. I dragged myself through the snowbanks to check fearfully in the road, where I was convinced I’d find his twisted, broken body. I veered around the side of the house, calling and clapping my hands. And that’s when Corben poked his head up over a mound of snow: he’d headed straight to the park where he loves to chase his laser pointer after the sun goes down. He ran right to me when I called again, and I picked him up—all forty wiggling pounds of him—and went inside, where we both sat on the floor, shaken by the entire ordeal.

Here’s why I’m telling you this story.

When I realized Corben was gone and made my mad dash around the neighbourhood, I hadn’t yet dressed for the day. On Friday night I’d gone shopping for some PJ’s, which is something I don’t usually do: it always feels like a waste of money to buy a prescribed tee-shirt and jogging pants for bedtime when I have old worn-out gym clothes that work just as well. But I’ve been needing a pick-me-up, so I headed to the new Victoria’s Secret to see what I could find.

To my own amazement, I ended up falling in love with a pair of black yoga pants, sporting a set of bedazzled rhinestone angel wings across the buttocks. I tried them on because I really like wings, and I needed a pair of pants, and they were dirt cheap on sale. I bought them because when I put them on and they felt like the fabric equivalent of a warm hug, I knew I had to have them. Yeah, I think yoga pants should only be worn for yoga; and yeah, I think having anything emblazoned on your rear-end is one of the most tawdry things a girl can do to herself…but every now and then, just for a brief moment, I find myself desirous of something utterly girly. And since no one would ever see me in them outside of my own family, I figured, why not. I topped off the ensemble with a super-cheap hoodie with the words “I LOVE PINK” written in glitter across both the front and the back. Because again, I would only wear it for bedtime and the people in my house know I don’t love pink. But I do, secretly, adore sparkly things.

Anyway, it was in this ensemble that I ran, with the addition of furry slippers, looking for my dog. After the adrenaline left my system and I was no longer shaking with fear, I realized that I’d given the entire cul de sac quite a little show, decked out in my sparkly Victoria’s Secret gear, bellowing and clapping and stumbling through the snow.

So then I thought of all the times I’ve wrinkled my nose when I see people on TV, talking to the news reporters at the scene of some accident or crime. These people so often seem to be wearing embarrassing sweats, crude slogan tee-shirts, and never ever a bra. I thought about all the times I would think, “What horrendous trashy neighbourhoods do these people live in? How come these newsworthy stories always seem to happen where these horrendously trashy people live?” And now I wonder, if maybe just maybe, some of those poor folk were just like me: it was their one day in months where they slept in; their first time in years not getting changed first thing in the morning; and they had just bought those ridiculous pants with the word ‘juicy’ across the ass on sale that weekend because they’re just so comfortable. And maybe when they looked back on the newsclip, they too had a moment of redfaced chagrin as they realized what they were wearing.

So I apologize, all you jogging-suit-wearing, words-on-the-butt, braless crazy-haired people I’ve judged all these years. I feel your pain…your warm, fuzzy, brushed-cotton, rhinestone-butted yoga pant pain.

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