As I’ve already said, I was a weird homeschooled kid. Though it is perhaps hyperbole to say we were all socially inept, it would probably be accurate to say the majority of us were at least socially awkward. I approached interaction with “real school” kids like aliens might approach an egg beater: with curiosity and trepidation, but without any real knowledge of what the fuck I was supposed to do.
|although to be quite honest this is fairly confusing.|
Since I also spent a good portion of my childhood camping in the wilds of the better part of North America, I really didn’t have much time to practice these skills until I started taking some classes at the local junior high. Needless to say, I didn’t really fit in. Thankfully, I was too in my own world to really notice. I rather doubt my fellow junior high students had sweet, cheerful comments on my way of dressing/habits/manner of speech.
|yes. yes they do.|
So perhaps because of my slightly less-than-traditional upbringing, I developed some kind of interesting habits that I still cling to (though I prefer “employ”. It makes me sound more grown up.). Here’s the list of the ones that spring to mind:
1. Reading. A lot.
I sort of taught myself to read when I was about three years old. People always give me one of two reactions when I reveal this about myself. Either they give me squinty disbelieving eyes, or they look shocked and say “Gosh, you must be really smart!”
|I don't like to brag, but I totally have, like, so many things in common with Alfred here.|
I don’t think it’s that I’m particularly smart. My parents read to me a lot when I was younger, and I have always loved books in general. I have a very clear, distinct memory of taking a book down from the shelf by our front door, opening it up, and suddenly it all made sense. The letters turned into words, the words into sentences.
It is perhaps the result of sixteen years of practice, but I can also read really fast. What takes most people an hour to read will take me more like 15 or 20 minutes. I’m told my eyeballs move “creepy fast”. Though this may sound like a good thing, it can be rather frustrating, because when I travel I can’t just take one book, because I’ll finish it halfway through the first plane ride. But as far as schoolwork goes, it’s pretty awesome.
Anyway, suffice it to say I read a whole bunch when I was younger (also now, but my social skills are maybe a bit better). This was not really conducive to making friends, except the fictional ones in my books.
|but not by much.|
When you’ve got your nose stuck in a book, it makes it very hard for people to talk to you. Plus I used a bunch of big words, which when adults hear a 10 year old using words like “recollection” and “circumstance” they get all impressed and shit. When other 10 year olds hear you using those words, they make fun of you. Ah, the lessons I learned at camp my first year….
2. Talking to myself. Also a lot.
I have a very overactive imagination. This means I have very interesting dreams, and I am very seldom bored. It also means I talk to myself all the freaking time.
Seriously, I’m not kidding. Ever since I was little, I’ve told myself stories. It wasn’t good enough for me to just read about all these people doing cool things, I wanted to live them. Unfortunately, I didn’t have magic powers or awesome sword fighting skills. So I told stories in which I did. I’ve never managed to finish a story all the way to its conclusion, but I literally could not tell you how many I’ve told. Hundreds. Maybe more. But I don’t just tell them in my head. Oh no. I take it to a whole new level of crazy. I tell them to myself.
|but Dr. Pamela Butler thinks it can change your life, so apparently all I need is a field of purple flowers and I'll be fine.|
Out loud. When I was little, it was at top volume. I would go on long, meandering walks, just talking to myself. Picture this, if you can: You’re just walking along the sidewalk, minding your own business. All of a sudden, you see this pudgy little blonde boy in flower-print leggings, orange rain boots, glasses, and a black fleece jacket with multi-colored lizards all over it. He’s wandering along, not really appearing to be in any kind of hurry. And he’s talking to himself. Rather loudly. Curious, you listen as you draw closer to him, your paths about to cross. And here is a sample of what you might hear: “…. I laughed scornfully, swinging Elantril in a casual, deadly circle. My long, silky black hair was pulled back in a thick braid, laced with a spiked strap in case any enemy dared seize it. The cowardly wizard crouched before me, muttering his spells. I brushed them away with a wave of my long-fingered graceful hand. ‘Silence, you fool wizard!’ I cried, my voice a thing of feminine beauty. ‘I am here to kill you, imbecile!’
|this is totally how I saw myself. also, if you value your retinas, don't Google image search "girl with sword". the internet has a dirty mind.|
At this point, you would probably be equal parts fascinated, dying of laughter, wondering if schizophrenia presented itself in such young children, and betting good money this little boy was going to be a cross-dresser/transgender when he got older. And you might also have been impressed with his vocabulary.
|and possibly star in Rocky Horror later in life.|
Of course, the pudgy blonde boy is actually me. Remember, even Santa thought I was a boy. You might notice the story centered heavily on how pretty and feminine I was. Yeah, that was kind of a recurring theme. I still have issues with the whole long-fingered thing. My actual fingers would probably be better off if you compared them to those little cocktail wieners. But with knuckles.
|and this is what you get when you search "cocktail wieners in a can". I refuse to read into that, and now I shall make you look at this picture because I cannot unsee it. and it burns...|
Even still, though I don’t really tell myself these stories in public at top volume, I most definitely talk to myself. Especially when I’m traveling alone, I pretty much just run a constant dialogue with myself, occasionally containing arguments between my various pieces of crazy. It certainly makes people give me a wider berth at airports, which is really rather nice.
3. Throwing up on everything that moves.
Let me clarify this one a little bit first. I don't mean I actually projectile vomit onto moving objects, I mean I get motion sick from pretty much anything I ride. Planes, cars, buses, boats... You name it, it's probably made me throw up. Once, when I was little, my mom, my sister and I were flying back to Wyoming from visiting my grandparents in Louisiana.
It was New Orleans in the middle of the summer, so it was hot and the air probably felt sticky. We were boarding the plane, which had yet to turn its air conditioning on because they're like that. The plane was jammed full of people, and it turned out I had a middle seat, and my mom and sister had an aisle seat. Which meant we trapped some poor, unsuspecting lady by the window. I was probably two, and my sister was one, and most likely crying. After we got settled, I turned cheerfully to the poor soul next to me and stated "Sometimes I barf on airplanes!"
|like this, but without the happy man with a sonic cup. and more vomit.|
And so I do.
It makes travel not so much fun, for me or the people who have to sit next to me.