Friday, November 23, 2012

My Late Early Twenties Thus Far.

   Helllllooooooo, my bunch of delightfully anonymous readers from progressively more unlikely corners of our lovely world. Boy howdy, do I have some stuff for you today. Let us start with the obvious- BIRTHDAY.

   There was a party, and even as I am writing this, there is actual, legitimate turning-23-ing going on. Some years ago, my ex Maartin and I threw a Tuxedo Karaoke party which was... less than karaoketastic. We decided to use the midi backtracks my mom makes for her singing students, but if you're not an Eisteddfod kid, it can be very hard not to hear mono-tonal generic bell-like sounds and stand in bafflement as to where the song starts or indeed which song it even is. We also went with the stellar option of trying to display the lyrics to each song on the computer monitor with "Tell me when to scroll down. Now? How 'bout now?" as regulation, and the end result was rather as much chaos as you'd expect. 
   This time I was going to do it right, and I was going to do it comfortable, goddamnit. Pyjama freedom for all. Of course when the invites went out, that meant more threats of nudity than I dare relay, and I wasn't even that hesitant to turn them all down. 
   Since the dreadful Tuxedo Karaoke, I had started scouting out karaoke tracks to keep just in case we were ever to attempt it again. Years of this hoarding means I have hundreds of tracks now, and the above picture is the front cover of the meticulously handcrafted karaoke catalogue I set up for my guests to use. It took some (ah ha ha ha. Some. I'm a bald-faced liar, "some" is wildly incorrect here) cajoling to get people to join in, but I had incentive. I had gold-foil covered chocolate Kruger Rands for willing participants, and they may well have mystical powers not unlike leprechaun gold.
   WARNING, ACHTUNG, Tangential Anecdote To Follow, DANGER DANGER:
When I was a kid, (all of the "kid" years, really, no need to narrow down) I was a fucking weirdo. (I'm a creeeeep....) PE and sport days were absolute obligatory, but the teachers knew me. They knew me well enough that when only a doctor's note could excuse you, I was the one sitting on the bleachers next to the kid with the broken leg, reading Thief Of Time. I didn't like sports, didn't like watching them, and didn't like participating- but to at least some degree, that was because I outright sucked ass at all of it. I tried out for the netball team, putting in many hours over weeks of hard work and training with the rest of the hopefuls, and didn't even make the M-team. Sometimes we'd play softball in PE class, and I LOVED being at bat, even hitting the ball sometimes, but then after that there was some form of running involved and rather a lot of angry people seemingly arbitrarily shouting at me to either keep running or for god's sake's stop on one of the, fuck, I dunno? Corners? Those things. Mostly, I didn't hit it, and it became clear that in this hellish sport, I was never going to be allowed to keep holding the bat, so that went pffffft too. In the sort of mini-around-the-neighbourhood marathon the school orchestrated for presumably Faustian reasons, the teacher simply handed me a water bottled and gestured to take a seat next to her at the first check-in point. Athletics like long-jump, and high-jump and what nots and doo dabs were never anything less than marrow suckingly embarrassing, and once everyone had realised I had a greater chance of actually, medically breaking my neck on the hurdles, I got to sit all that shit out. 
   But I'll tell you what: when accolades day came, and everyone who had achieved some kind of recognition for the semester got called up to the auditorium stage to receive their medals and hurrahs, I wished so hard for javelin throwing prowess I think I burned a bald-spot into Mrs. Potgieter's hair. I was always handed a little piece of paper with a gold sticker and some ribbon on it for Eisteddfod or the play, but all the people who had dared to hurdle their hurdles and jump their jumps (and rugby their rugby) always got solid, shiny, gorgeous medals. I cannot possibly express the extent of my longing for a medal. They seemed so tangible and irrefutable, and the weight of it around your neck must feel like the very measurement of real praise. In comparison, my little certificates were essentially no better than participation stickers to me. 
   I complained loudly and continuously enough that my awesome dad (of whom you have heard not a little) did his darndest one day (maybe not his utter darndest, though. I feel there's at least a small component of "take this and shut the fuck up, kid" to it, he could have put his back into it a little) and covered a milk jug's lid in foil to make me a make-shift medal. 
   Yeah, it didn't work. But now, years later in my age and wisdom, I can look back at that as one of my favourite gestures ever. 
   My point is that holding one of these damn chocolate Kruger Rands feels like the medal I wanted, and I find it as hard to eat as a cake with a face. Excellent prizes for humiliating yourself to The Lion Sleeps Tonight, I think.

   Baby Sam came along and fairly terrorised the cats. This is a generation of felines who have never had to deal with terror more or less at their standing height, and so his gentle "coo"s- and, you know, inoffensive jumping up and down and squealing at pitches hitherto thought outside the human hearing spectrum- shot Tesla through the house like a little lilac-pointed white ball of four-legged piss-streak. Much like when Sam sneezes or coughs (or does anything that a grown-up does, but in miniature), it was fucking adorable.

   This is the moment I have been hoarding Karaoke tracks for. It's Brenda and Sam singing Sexy Back with all of the aplomb that goes with Brenda and Sam singing Sexy Back. I put out all of my hats, scarves, sunglasses and props (of which there are many) so people could pimp out their pyjamas to suit the song they choose.
   Here's Dirk doing two different songs (as evidenced by him wearing two different hats), but doing what looks to me like the equivalent of two moves from the same dance. To whit:



    Then there's Duane...
    In Duane-like splendour.
    We have Juan to the far right, hiding his face from the camera. Since the instant film costs like R16 a shot, I think the man owes me a drink for this shit.
   This was Verdale's solution to instrumental breaks. Air piano, which is obviously awesome.

   And since I was behind the instant camera, you may wonder if there's any photographic evidence that I attended my own party. Behold:

   Yes, that's me doing Wicked. Somehow I realise I end up spending a great deal of my life dressed as a wizard, and I'm kind of OK with that.
   But of course, you don't want to know about the stunning solos that included such classics as My Baby Just Cares For Me, I Got You Babe and Baby Got Back. You want to know what kind of awesome presents I got, largely because that's all I've been talking about for weeks.

   My own personal death-timer from Duane. BEAUTIFUL. And now I can cosplay Mort if the urge should strike.
   I also got a shopping spree from my dad, which netted- among other lovelies- sparkly shoes. His reaction was of course "Where the fuck are you going to wear those?" to which Duane responded most pleasingly on my behalf "Everywhere!" in a tone that suggested it was exactly as silly a question as it sounds. I got a Sheldon doll from Dirk, who knows me on levels I apparently don't even know myself because holy fuck how awesome is that? I'd never have thought of that, and I was drooling over these dolls not a month ago. I obviously am not as Sheldon-y as I thought, because didn't even give half a thought to ripping the packaging open and clutching my little Jim Parsons to my chest.

   Brenda, who is inscribed upon my soul in many ways, got me more books. That's a little like buying a drunk a drink, which is why I love her. You know someone cares about you if they're willing to feed your all-consuming mania.
   So as mentioned, my dad sent me on a spree, which is possibly the wisest way to satiate a female on a birthday. I decided to go to Menlyn which is one of the bigger and more confusing malls in the area. This is place is huge and Escher-like in its lay-out to the extent that a few years back, a kid (who was actually a friend of Cousin Carla's, in this small world) stabbed two other boys in the video arcade and one died while the paramedics were trying to find their way out of the mall. My rationale in this choice was that at that size, Menlyn ought to have everything. Spoiler: they didn't have everything. But more importantly, when we arrived there at about 10 AM, as soon as we parked the car a screeching alarm went off and people started barrelling out in their multitudes. My personal favourite was the small army of ladies in hair foils mid-colouring running out in their hairdressing capes, although I do feel rather bad for the state of their follicular health after that. There was no clear instruction on what was happening or what to do, although the bomb squad and fire department seemed to be there, and a shop owner locking up told me she reckoned it was probably just a drill. Weeks later and I still have no idea what it was, although on the phone a security personage with the mall said it had been an actual fire.

   (Just as an aside: one of my favourite gifts I got was a tin of Hello Kitty sweets and a lollipop wrapped up in a foil plate. Seriously, that made my week.)

    There was also some pub-quiz doings a little while before my birthday which begs a repeat. Dad, I and Duane got our thinking hats on and won second place down at a golf-flavoured pub not far from here. I took home our prize of the world's most useless bottle of wine seeing as how none of us really drink and if we did it certainly wouldn't be dry red. But dammit, I had my trophy and I'd be a fool not to use its innate magnitude and sheer itself-ness to lord over the poor fools trailing in third and fourth and so on.
   There was also a very pretty boy there who looked like Daniel Radcliffe, and I'm sure you'll be shocked to learn that my spastic attempts at smiling at him and my efforts to glance in his direction without seeming Tina-Fey drunk went absolutely no-where. Progress though, at least I hazarded the chance to look Tina-Fey drunk instead of staring at my shoes.

   I'm willing to call this one a win. The party ended up at the exact intersection of Drunk and Too Drunk that yields inside jokes and cringe-laughter, and I got practically a week and half of festivity out of it.
   Now, however, my attention turns to that greatest of domestic evils: moving. At the end of the month I need to be elsewhere than the home in which I currently reside, lest the new owners take umbrage to my bibliomanic squatting. Also, you know: packing. Finding a place to move into and putting things into boxes for the express purpose of moving them hither to thither are two things I have not yet done. I have turned off the panic button for now, instead quelling it with lashings of West Wing episodes and too much sugar. I'm sure it'll be fine. Me, four cats and about four square acres of books-'n-bits on Brenda's couch will probably be a healthy life experience. Should that cease to be an option, I can always earn my way in pub-trivia winnings.
   At least I have a fall-back plan.


Friday, November 9, 2012

My Legacy

   This last week, the top 4 search engine hits this blog has gotten (bear in mind that means there was more than one instance of each of these a search term that brought someone here) were as follows:

Is it good to live like Charlie Sheen?
Thumnailserver Sex Party
Farts Dynamite
(and my personal favourite)
Pretoria Finest Vaginas 

   I think that my stats are a recommendation of this site in and of themselves. Seriously, if not one but four different people could find this site in search of "farts dynamite", then I must be doing something right.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

We Need To Talk About Trevor.

   I don't think it's any surprise or secret that I like me a pretty piece of flesh. I like me some boys. Like Dawn French in Let Them Eat Cake, I should like to support the troops and have ample cause to confuse Julian Desiere for Didier with the lovely bulgy thighs. I am a true harlot at heart if not in practice, which if anything makes me unforgivably inconsistent. I shall have to remedy that shit at once.
   When I was dating Marnu I once asked him who would be on his "List." You know The List: it's the 5 celebrities you would theoretically be given a free pass to consensually molest whilst in a relationship. Now, this is not literal, and as Ross and Rachel (their wisdom is neverending and truly unlimited in scope) have proven unto us, when the idea is put to practice it tends to fall flat in several different ways. Not least is which that if you've bumped Isabella Rossellini from your laminated list and then run into her at a coffee shop, bitch is not going to be pleased by your insubordination.
   Marnu took the idea very seriously indeed, and utterly balked at the idea that there ought even hypothetically be such a thing as a free pass for the sake of a thought experiment. He gets very worked up about the animal welfare issues involved with Schrodinger's Cat, too. I pointed out how utterly on the far side of "just and idea" it was, citing that if Benedict Cumberbatch himself swaggered into the room right then and there, my response would not be to call List and jump him but to scream uncontrollably because how in god's name did he get in the house, where the fuck did he come from and what is he doing in the computer room. It was moot, Marnu couldn't really pare down to a specific 5 anyway, but boy howdy did I have contenders.
   Now we all know how much I love a bit of this:

   And lord knows there isn't a woman alive who ought to be able to withstand a little of this:

    I could fill up your screen and sap your bandwidth with a post of wall-to-wall List. I mean Bradleys both Whitford and James, Colin Morgan, Michael C Hall, Paul Rudd, Jensen Ackles, John Hannah... I actually made a real list after that discussion with Marnu. It filled up my entire whiteboard, and I kept having to bump people off of it because I was running out of writing space. Look, can I help it if I appreciate a good design?
   But let me say this- of all the traits that puts a name on my list (besides eyes, because even if the rest of you is deformed beyond recognition as a human specimen, you flash those Benedict Blues at me and I'm yours exclusively), I recognise a pattern that leans towards comedy. Sure enough, I love good actors all the more for being good at what they do, but as Christopher Titus so aptly puts it, I'm a total Chuckle Slut. Jason Segel for instance is specifically encouraged to skip right past the hand shake and going for the boob grab the moment we chance to meet.
   Recently, I've been getting indeeped in some stand-up comedy. I have come to realise this as my Achilles' heel. I am going to be a very busy woman indeed if I should ever make good on my threats of petty sexual assault when you factor in the actual comedians alongside comic actors. To whit:

   Angry Irish madman with floppy hair. You tempt me, sir.

   Manic Australian atheist in skinny jeans. I shall have you spread on a cracker.

   Christopher Titus whose family is maybe the only one fucking crazier than mine, and whom I am convinced would understand me like no one else. You and I are soulmates, Christopher. Come to your senses and come to me.

   Now you'll note that I seldom ever really talk about South African actors that get my lusty vote. Well you've noted incorrectly, because the actual amount of times I've talked about South African actors that get my lusty vote is none. None times. Largely this will be because most of our movies are shot with either soap actors, or Leon Schuster who is one of the more frequent catalysts to my suicidal thoughts. We have not yet really learned how to make movies, and when we cast and direct, we end up with Days Of Our Afrikaans Angst up on a big screen trying to look grown-up. Tsotsi and District 9 went some way towards lending our cinema canon credence, but even then they were both massive commercial entities geared for overseas consumption and in D9's case, more or less crewed by professional foreigners.
   I am obviously grossly prejudiced against my own media culture by way of being a raging prick really, and when a bunch of ads for Cell-C (a cellphone coverage provider) came out featuring someone called Trevor Noah, I got seven kinds of righteously pissy and decided that Lord Loraine decreed against him. To my credit those ads really were crap, but even when people I know- people previously unburdened by mental illness or a fondness for braindeath- kept telling me how funny his stand up was I would not budge.
   Then Brenda tells me he's funny, and I sigh my weary sigh and give in. Seriously woman, it is not healthy the kind of power you hold over my resolve.
   And guess what: he's funny. Not only funny, but actually funny. Astute as fuck and articulate beyond the particular areas he covers. And pretty.

   In truth, he's kind of like the Tolkien of stand-up: you can clearly see the fact that stand-up comedy was never his original gig in his segues and diffusion noises ("It's madness, madness...") which come less naturally than the stuff he means in earnest and understands inside out. (All of this being like Tolkien in that Tolkien built a whole damn world, and then went about writing a book to showcase it. Trevor has all this shit to say about South Africa and has the accents and imitations down to such an art, he has to write comedy around it to get it out in a formatted medium. I think if stand-up comedy didn't exist, this guy would have to be a professional dinner guest.)
   This may well be threatening my honorary ex-pat status and I'm in trouble of having my dual imaginary American/British citizenship revoked, but this guy is going on the laminated version of the list; I'm not risking an Isabella Rossellini situation.

   Then there's this thing about actors I want to talk about. When I was little, I grouped them into tiers in my head, and I did it backwards. Tier 1 was the basic, entry level acting class, tier 2 was someone who could carry some depth and create a slightly fuller character, and tier 3 was basically Meryl Streep. Backwards. But forgive me, I was 12 and I had only recently been introduced to the word "tier." I then met Marnu earlier this year, and in the strangest case of quantum entanglement I've ever been a part of it turns out he had- independently of me- developed the same bass-ackwards system for actors when he was that age, even using the word "tier."

    In the above graphic, I've re-ordered the tiers to reflect, you know, logic, and I've added the addendum Marnu came up with: the Pornstar Tier. I think that one speaks more or less for itself. Now I like to think of the tiers kind of like that quote about the three personalities every person has: the one you think you have, the one the world sees, and the one you really have. You could say that with each tier an actor moves up, he becomes cognisant of another one of those personalities for his character. When you can understand the thing that drives your character even when your character doesn't, you are tier one. When you are aware of the fact that this character exists differently in his peer's eyes than he sees himself, you are tier 2. When you are reading out a line that contains words and syntax you wouldn't necessarily know how to apply ad-libbed in real life, you're probably tier 1. And if the words you need to read out have never met Mr. Syntax and Lady Thesaurus and you still don't can't just say them like a human being, you're a pornstar.
   This is obviously a greatly simplified idea, but I've found it applies so universally that it got me thinking. (Yes, a dangerous passtime, I know.) Writers for most mainstream and decent indie movies and TV do not write their characters on the first tier. Even something like Transformers which may be brainless requires the characters to at least respond to a certain level of functional logic and reason, and act accordingly. These are characters that, when given a piece of information, are given it for a reason that is likely pertinent to moving the story along and as such they tend to consider and process it fairly well, even if they are a recognised douche within that particular world.
   People do not work that way. I grew up watching movies more than I actually, you know, talked to people, so I somehow managed to grow up believing immutably that people actually think. That if someone says the sky is red and you can point up and prove the contrary, they would have to take it under advisement at the very least, and if they still wanted to stick to their crimson sky belief it probably had something to do with character motivation. Not so. This is how that exchange broadly goes about 70% of the time in the real world.

   "The sky is red."
   "What, like right now? Like a sunset? It's 2 in the afternoon."
   "No, you know. It's red."
   "What made you think that? Did you read it somewhere?"
   "OK, well it's easy enough to verify. Let's just look out the window."

   "Looks blue to me."
   "FUCK YOU. REDREDREDREDRED. And your mother is a whore and your father died a virgin, RED."

   That's people. Often, circular logic is even a bit of a high ask- when faced with the challenge to justify a belief or an action, most people just opt for the LALALA I CAN'T HEAR YOU, RED option. I am now going to actually go to a very un-PC place and say that people can be placed on the tier graph too. I'd say the more you understand the mechanics of the world around you, and the more genuine insight you have into the workings of your own mind, the higher up you go. This has fuck-all correlation with plain intelligence, the same way the acting graph has little to do with how smart an actor is. I mean, Norman Reedus is a very good actor capable of commendable nuance, but that guy is his own audience. I mean he is every 15-year-old proto-goth boy who was convinced Boondock Saints ought to be a religion and asked everyone to call him Draven. Thusly you can be a brain surgeon, but if you still refuse to admit that you've inherited a fat chunk of your mother's bad attributes and rationalise away your bad habits, you are not tier 1. Basically, the better you are at either lying to yourself or if you have never had enough information about yourself to even have had the chance to lie, the further down the ladder you fall.
   Again, very simplified. But it works. Broadly I think people on the lower end of the tier tend to need less from life and relationships. There's angst, but most of it is either fairly innocuous or easily soothed. I think that even if you're an utter brick intellectually, the higher your ranking, the more corners of the world you see and it follows that you'd need more clarity and satisfaction from those corners. If you don't know that your partner only really likes Terry Pratchett for the broad comedy and pretty fantasy (likely because you do too), there's no way for you to be dissatisfied with their capacity for its cultural and satirical depth. If your views on the universe and any belief you hold is unshakable not because of the evidence behind it and the strength of its merit but because it's yours, you're not going to feel unfulfilled never fully understanding the nature of your beliefs and the reasons why they captivate you. All in all: probably happier people.
   You'd think that this is the kind of thing where most people would go "Nuh-uh!" because no one wants to think they're on a lower tier, but I've run this theory past some people. I've come across scepticism and outright support, but my favourite reaction was from someone who simply nodded a slow acceptance and then told me they think they're probably tier 1 or 2, and that's cool, yo. I think there's something to be said for measuring people not by IQ or knowledge, but by awareness and intellectual functionality. Sharp over clever. I say let's promote the village idiot, because that guy obviously knows himself well enough to put on his hat and gown of office, and let's instead pin the "kick me" sign on the town elder's back, because that dude hasn't had a thought he wasn't given by someone else for years. I say hope constantly to be proven wrong about the world and about yourself, because if you are, you are just that much closer to eternal misery suffered in exquisite depth of understanding.
   Huzzah for the worry-warts.

   And as a hypothetical American, can I just say a quick prayer to the American gods of politics and mythological deities of cultural identity (yes, I'm reading Neil Gaiman right now, what makes you ask?) for Obama? The American political character is American folklore, and for that I love it. I hope I can continue to love it once this week is over, because if Romney gets voted in, I'm moving to Mars.
   He's a pornstar tier person.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

On The Subject Of Birthdays

   It has come to my attention that I am being forced into my late early-twenties in little over a week's time. Yes, I am entering my 24th year on this lovely little world we've cultivated (well, others have cultivated, I'll admit to rather a lot of sitting back and handwaving "looks like you guys have it all under control, I'll just be over here with me iced-tea"ing.) and there are crock-shits of things happening all around my head. Goddamn, it's full enough in here already without all this external noise to add to my general state of confusion, did I not say I had an iced-tea to tend to?

   I'm moving out of this house at the end of the month. The house I've had the longest tenure in of any of the houses I've lived in. We've been here about seven years, whereas previously we tended to jump from house to house every two to three years on average. We have yet to find a place to actually move in to, but we'll have to get on that shit soon because I foresee a modicum of discomfort should I have to share a bed with one of the new occupants.
   I am currently persona non grata with at least Cousin Carla and her associates, plus I've kind of provisionally told my mother to keep to herself (looooong story), and my ex Marnu who I've been endeavouring to stay friends with as per our many, many discussions on the topic is acting like a bit of a bizarre prick, so I have no idea where that stands. Sister Estelle and her husband have also had something of a tantrum recently which led to them taking back their dogs who had been living in my yard keeping all the burglars (both imaginary and real) at bay. That means at least that many less people that will be coming to my birthday party, and that's a big issue for me. Last year (as you may remember, oh lone loyal reader on a Mac reading from Switzerland) no one came besides my mother and Carla, and it was truly fucking sad. There had also been some drama with other friends right before my birthday that year and the over-all mood was just bleak.
   But I'm turning 23. Fuuuuuuuuck. That's OLD. Not in the "I'm barely out of my teens and people in their 30's are old to me" kind of a way, but in a "Oh dear god everyone my age has already studied something somewhere and is at least more or less on their way to their 2.5 kids and OK-ish jobs" kind of a way. I have so much stuff I want to do. In this world, I have mountains and mountains of stuff I want to do. It's not indecisiveness, I know all of those things by name and each one is as important as the thing standing next to it, and anytime I've ever wanted to turn my focus to one thing the others scream out in protest, causing me to sit back down and neglect them all equally. I mean really, I've worked, but a combination of shitty circumstances, limited means and a general disposition towards self-destructive laziness has just gradually driven me into a cul-de-sac, and I'm starting to panic.
   It's like dieting or quitting smoking. You always think you'll start on Monday, then Monday comes and suddenly you have a cigarette in your hand or a deep-fried slice of black forest cake in your mouth (yes, the whole slice, don't skimp on the visual here) and then you feel all right excusing further "cheating" until it's not longer cheating but full on habit again. It's always been "this will be the year I buckle down and make a short film" or "2012 will be the year I go overseas." But either my bottomless ability to cut and run or the universe itself will always come down with a slightly greasy thumb and squish that shit right the fuck out leaving nothing but an uneasy apathy and dark chocolate cake crumbs in its wake. It's always been sort of OK because I'm young and I obviously- like all the other invincible, immortal twenty-somethings- have all the time in the world. After all, isn't 50 the new 40? And 60 the new 70? Hell, by the time I'm in my thirties 100 will be the new 90 and they'll have figured out how to live forever anyway, so really all I'm doing here is taking a gap decade.
   I can't do that any more, I just can't. I know my health is by and large in as robust a condition as the underside of an '82 VW Beetle that's been parked on the beach since its inception, and as such I think I can at least comfortably say I'm not as invincible as the next 23-year-old. I'm struggling with so many symptoms that manifest themselves cosmetically that I cannot bear to look at myself in the mirror without worrying it might break the universe. In summation: my head is full. It's wall-to-wall angst and I have no spoon with which in to dig. (Avoiding ending sentences on a preposition like a BOSS, yo.) (Please don't point out the inevitable numerous examples of me doing just that even within this post itself, just let me have the Boss-Win this once, OK?)
   Let me tell you a secret about growing up poor: it creates this casual kind of a greed that ends up trying so hard to fight itself, it goes negative. Money was always tight for us, but there was a certain point after which things took a proper swing for actually poor, and I was always ultra-conscious of the fact that we couldn't afford things. It made for a distinct and unerring separation between need and want. I learned very early on to recognise that I wanted the toy other kids were getting, but that I didn't need it. And if I didn't need it, it was imperative to not only not ask for it, but to make it look like the very knowledge of its existence hadn't even entered into my sphere of consciousness. If I let on even vaguely that I might want this toy, then my parents would be burdened with that fact and with having to deny me it, or worse still would buy it for me at the expense of something we probably needed. This kind of refusal to acknowledge wanting extended much further for me than it ever should have- I didn't have the kind of social interaction that teaches kids what the rules of exchange are in human interaction; what is understood to be acceptable and expected in order to navigate basic conversation. I ended up extrapolating everything I knew from the books and TV shows and movies I spent way too much time immersed in, and let me tell you something: people in real life are no where near as smart or tidy in their thinking as writers give them credit for. It's made for a pretty crappy understanding of, you know, talking to other human beings and the trajectory of any relationship, and it's installed at the level where my brain decides when to blink and breathe.
   Not letting on that I was disappointed that I couldn't get a particular toy eventually turned into a very elaborate apologetic round-about in situations that had barely even the slightest connection the idea of sparing my parents my greed. If I'm in a room with three other adults and the host asks if anyone wants coffee, I cannot possibly say yes before someone else has. In fact, I can't answer even if they're talking directly to me, because if I say yes to an unsolicited offer that was made to me ouright, obviously I am going to be seen as brazenly presumptive and entitled and that I cannot abide. If there's a buffet line at someone's house, I can't be the first to "help myself", even after a painful amount of encouragement. I can't even be the second, I have to be the last. Men sometimes motion for me to enter a doorway ahead of them or open a car door for me, but I end up "no, after you"ing to such a tenacious extent that it actually creates the most awkward vibe that makes the guy feel a little emasculated and makes them think of me less like a lady (as it were) and more like that weird chick who goes into spasm when entering a room. (This, by the way, comes directly from an old friend of mine. He told me once that my continual insistence on walking into a room last and carrying my own bags made him almost subconsciously write me off as a "girl" and regard me as a very awkward dude, and I've started smelling a pattern as to why guys always switch right into friend mode the moment they meet me. Well, I say friend mode. Restraining order mode just doesn't have the same ring to it.)
   It's ridiculous. The scale this takes on can sometimes be overwhelming, and I end up turning down so many kind offers and free things just because I'm deathly scared I've got it wrong and I'll look like an entitled jackass or that I'll end up coercing someone into doing something they didn't want to do. How much of a prick would I look if I just said yes after someone asked if I want the old laptop speakers they're not using any more? Fuck, what if I've misunderstood and they really just want to loan or show them to me? And if I accept, later when I leave I'll have to call attention to it when I have to remember to take them, and that'll look even worse. If I say thank you for the meal someone treated me to that I'm genuinely really grateful for, all I'm going to end up doing is remind them that they've somehow been tricked into spending money and/or effort on me, and then I would obviously burst into flames and die. Or more likely, I'd burst into flames and everyone else would die, because that's just the kind of a-hole I am.
   Behind all of that though, is this ever-growing sense of that want. I love giving gifts, I really do; it's one of my favourite things to be able to pick out something perfect for someone they weren't expecting to get or wouldn't have thought buying for themselves. I'll admit that there's at least a small part of me that enjoys giving random and perfectly picked gifts because I wish the world worked like that more. I knew I wasn't getting the expensive Barbie with all the flash for Christmas, and in keeping it quiet it went on a mental list in a way. You become so aware of all the things you know you can't have that they become symbols of not-having beyond the respective value itself. So I take any chance to give little presents or do things that I know someone would have had to pay for because I know how much I'd like to be the recipient of those kinds of things. I do the same with the adventure game parties I sometimes throw (or used to throw)- I know I'd be over the moon to be a participant in one of those, so I put them together for other people in case someone feels the same and has never had the chance to take part in one. That makes me sound more benevolent than I am, I assure you this is all just a bratty selfish kid who WANTS WANTS WANTS.
   What I'm saying is, when my birthday rolls around, I get ridiculously materialistic. It's one of the few times a year when you've got some booty coming to you (as Calvin might say), and the only day that's yours entirely. No matter how crap the rest of your year has been, or how busy people have been or what-the-fuck-ever-have-you, it's the day when you get calls and messages and cards and candy from even the most tangential acquaintances and co-workers. And as a barometer for the shitty job I've done of growing up and out of old habits, I'm quite happy to say that when it comes to birthday gifts, it's quantity over quality. (Interestingly, the same phenomenon occurs when I have money to spend and I go shopping. Even if two things from different stores can be put into one bag, I want two. When I get home and put my shopping bags on my bed, I want to be able to tell at a glance that I brought home STUFF.) I like physical embodiments of having, and I'd rather have a box of beads and five second hand books and some DVDs than I'd want a car. It's the most abhorrent mind-set, but it's utterly part of me and I don't see it budging any time soon.
   Part of the reason I'm writing this at all- as I can quite easily see this being of zero interest even to the Swiss Mac Lover who so obligingly put me on his RSS Feed- is because it's a part of me writing or talking a certain set of things out so I know the shape of them better. In writing this, I've given exact wording to a thing I've always known about myself but had no definition for, and I can work on changing it now. Not the wanting of stuff (by the way, Mac person, feel free to send many, many gifts should you find yourself with an over abundance of cash and early-onset Christmas spirit), but more the crippling inability to exist in society without swallowing myself like Oroboros in an attempt to be polite. Along with the fear of an obviously imminent death (either due to the aforementioned bursting into flames or alternately dying of the hiccups) and creeping age, there's the fear that I can't just live like a normal human being. I've touched on this briefly in a previous post (the one that dictates Carla's absence from my birthday party- you know the one.) but it's something I desperately need to fix. All of my major romantic relationships have happened almost by accident, and especially contrived and unlikely accidents at that. Any time I've been called upon to manually bring about some kind of a connection with someone new, my fucking bizarre misunderstanding of the mechanics of interaction have inadvertently steam rolled me into unintended faux pas and out right we-can-never-speak-of-this-agains, so I'm going to have to go about learning all this stuff you bastards just seem to know like left from right.
   I don't know that either by the way: in the same way that I'm convinced I'm flirting with someone when I say hello back, I also cannot manually tell time at a glance, have absolutely no feel for the times table, and often have to pause to tell my left from my right. I can't tell you what a metre looks like even after you've shown me, and I could not even begin to venture a guess as to how long it has taken me to write this post. I couldn't even estimate to the nearest hour for you, I just don't have a measure for these things. Piano lessons for years (or possibly year, my guess here cannot be trusted) and I can't play you three blind mice. Can you imagine what an awesome driver I'm going to make?

   So listen, if any of my friends are still bothering to read this, take this away from today's pie: when I ask you to help me learn how to just behave like a normal person, I'm fucking serious. You know that time I asked you to set me up with someone because unless I'm meeting them under the explicit pretense of a potential romantic engagement I literally cannot impart the idea of it naturally? I meant it. I need your help, super-buds. I need lessons in personhood 101, and I need as many wingmen as I can possibly garner. I would very much like to avoid dying alone in a small flat at the age of 43 surrounded by my 29 cats if at all possible, but I'm afraid the basic training I have does not qualify me for much more. In fact, I think the two cats I already have might be fostering rebellion in their hearts even now, I might actually be losing ground here.
   And also, if you haven't read between the lines (or even the lines themselves, I do realise that my signature walls of text defend themselves from the threat of being read by their sheer volume and incidents of gratuitous "fuck" usages): presents.*

*It might have been a joke, but I am now going to have to punish myself Dobby-style for my wanton gift solicitation. If you need me I'll be over here ironing my hand.