Being Alone vs Being Lonely

I’ve spent most of my life alone. I haven’t had a roommate since 2004 and haven’t been on a date since 2006. It’s not that I don’t like having conversations or in person interaction. I have very rarely met people who share the same interests I do. I grew up in a small farming village of less than 500 people in rural Nebraska. The nearest Wal Mart was over an hour drive away as was the nearest four year college and book store. Most people I knew growing up thought I was odd in preferring to read science and nature books in grade school over playing sports. I never could run fast and was never coordinated enough to do well in sports like baseball or basketball. I didn’t have quick enough reflexes to be very good at most video games. My brother was a master at those. I always lost to him and I gave up trying to compete against him when I was ten years old.

Instead, I spent most of my free time either in the local library or wandering my back yard. While in my back yard, I made up stories and fantasy worlds. It came natural to me. Granted the neighbor kids thought it was funny and used to spy on me. Got me real paranoid after awhile. I didn’t have many friends growing up. I guess no one liked the smart kid who wasn’t afraid of being well read and smart. Even the adults thought I was strange for preferring to read to going to ballgames or county fairs.

It wasn’t until I was eleven that I met a friend who had many of the same interests and was just as much as an outsider as I was. His family moved in from a mountain town in Colorado. We hit it off right away. He and I were discussing politics and economics when most of our classmates were discussing school yard gossip, the latest video games, or the results of the college football games the previous weekend. He and I would sometimes spend our recess time discussing the presidental debates with our sixth grade teacher in 1992. Naturally our classmates thought we were weirdos.

I met my current best friend when I was thirteen. She and her sisters were homeschooled. First time in my entire life I met a kid who loved reading even more than I did. We hit it off immediately. Of course I got a lot of grief from classmates because my best friend was a girl. Half of the school thought I was gay and the other half thought we were all but married by freshman year of high school. Neither was true, she and I just shared similar interests. Most people don’t realize how few options I had for socializing for most of my life. Hell, I didn’t realize how limited my options were until facebook came out. Sadly, facebook turned into a toxic waste dump shortly after being opened to the public at large and big money got involved. Sad to see something so beautiful get so distorted.

Because my best friend in high school was a girl, that killed my chances for dating. Some people have the issues of not being able to get a second date or end up dating losers and jerks. My problem has always been getting anyone to say yes even once. I never did figure out what I was doing wrong. I flat out asked people what I was doing wrong. I never got any answer beyond ‘just be yourself’ and ‘there is someone for everyone.’ Right.

Even going off to college and being the only person from my school on campus didn’t improve my dating prospects. I asked one girl out and she laughed in my face. I had another girl in one class get all angry because she thought I was starring at her when I was really just starring at the clock. I did have a steady dating relationship my second year in college. Like most young romances, it didn’t last. We didn’t have enough similar interests. My last three years of college, I spent whatever time I wasn’t studying for classes in the library reading the classics of philosophy, history, literature, poetry, etc. Those books that serious literature students consider classics but never read, I read dozens of those in my spare time in college. Sure it killed any chance at dating, but I figured out that I wasn’t what most people were looking for anyway. It was no loss.

One I got out on my own, I struggled for a few years bouncing from job to job because of my worsening mental illness. I eventually wound up on disability. Worked a few years just to say I could. In 2012, I took early retirement from traditional work to devote my life to study and writing. At age 40, I’m far happier with this arrangement than with any I’ve ever had. I don’t get spied on by my neighbors like the kids in my hometown did. No one gives me a hard time for not wanting to date anymore. No one insults me because I love to learn. Sure it gets lonely at times, but that is what happens when someone has rare interests and lives in an environment where aren’t many people. Could I have done better socially if I grew up in a suburban setting? I don’t know. I’ll never know at this point. But it does get lonely. Some days I feel like a medieval monk with a great book collection but no one to share that knowledge with.

Thought on Marriage, Social Relationships, and Life’s Callings

I love being 40 years old. I enjoy that I no longer feel pressure to get married or have kids. I never could stand going to family gatherings and my old high school for home football games and have people asking me when I was going to start a family. People think I’m a liar for saying this, but I decided I wasn’t getting married when I was 18 and a senior in high school. For one, I saw that most married people I knew argued and fought all the time and about the pettiest crap. I still remember when I was 16 and my parents started arguing at the dinner table and I had just had it. I had a rough day at school already and I had a few hours worth of homework ahead of me that night already. I got up to just walk away, and they both shouted at me to sit down. Then they just went back to their argument like I wasn’t there. Sometimes when they argued, I’d yell at both of them just because I had enough. And my family was mild compared to most of my friends and extended family. Two of my high school friends and three sets of my cousins parents’ went through divorces in my youth. Seeing that scared me real bad. And I always heard this crap about how “you just gotta pick the right girl” or “love is all you need” or “love is forever” or “there is someone for everyone.” But I knew even in my teens I hated drama and fighting. I’d often hear that fighting makes relationships stronger and then I’d get punished for hitting my older brother or the neighbor kids. I always got mixed messages like that. I still do, though more through social media than my immediate family and friends. I love that I am no longer pressured to get married or have kids. It’s a pity almost no one respected my desire to stay unmarried twenty years ago.

I love that I can cut toxic people out of my life and not feel guilty at all about it. I may have fewer friends at age 40 than I did at age 22, but all of the friends I have are amazing. My best friend from college and I have never had a shouting match. Sure we’ve been irritated with each other many times but have never shouted at each other or ghosted each other. I’ve cut lots of people out of my life after we changed as people and after I figured out we weren’t good for each other. I’ve had to cut people out of my life that had been friends for years because we no longer shared the same values. I’ve even cut out family members. I find few things as irritating as going to family gatherings and hearing that one older relative rant on and on about the “damn kids” or that second cousin go on about politics or how much of an idiot his boss is. I don’t put up with toxic and rude people anymore. I would rather spend the rest of my life alone and in my apartment than socialize with toxic people. Anymore, most people I know are toxic. I refuse to put up with it. I don’t have to at this point in my life. And I don’t feel a shred of guilt for not socializing with people like that.

I love that I can do pretty much what I want for money, at least as long as I’m not breaking any laws. When I was a kid I was constantly asked what I wanted to do for a living. Originally I wanted to go into science research. I wasn’t really concerned with making lots of money. I enjoy what money can do as much as anyone, but it isn’t the primary focus of my existence. Another truth about me that most people think is a lie is that I decided I wanted to go to college when I was eight years old. The idea of being around well read people and getting to study things I wanted to sounded like winning the lottery in my eight year old mind. I always loved learning and reading. I didn’t have to be forced to read. Hell, I had to be forced to socialize with classmates. Mom and Dad were scared I’d never develop social skills if I just read books and made up stories in my back yard all day every day. Yet I still had a good social life in college, far better than what I had in grade school and high school. I’ve been accused of being anti social my entire life, but especially when I was a kid. The thing is I can talk with others all night about things like history, philosophy, economics, literature, science, and tech. But I can’t stand to talk about things like politics, the weather, sports, gossip, and school rumors. These things don’t interest me. Never have. Yet I was condemned for being anti social for not enjoying things like ballgames, county fairs, watching cable news, discussing politics, or the weather. I’ve never been anti social, I just have different interests than most people I’ve ever known. I’m thankful that the internet allows me to connect with people who have similar interests. I have more in common with people from my tech and futurist groups that I will never meet than I do my neighbors and most of my family. The internet is a godsend for the black sheep and small town eccentrics. It’s a pity I don’t have a couple hard core scholars or retired engineers living near me. In short, I love being a free lance independent scholar. Sure I will never get rich off my knowledge. Yet as long as I can pay my rent on time, keep food in the pantry, clothes in my wardrobe, keep my daily medications current, and keep the internet paid up, I don’t need much else. While I’m not convinced on the idea of previous lives or reincarnation, maybe I would have been wise to become a monk had I lived in medieval England. Maybe I could have been cured of mental illness and gone on to write parts of the Encyopedia Galatica if I lived in Asimov’s Foundation universe thousands of years in the future. I’ll never know. Being a scholar is like crime: It doesn’t pay and can land you in prison if you’re not careful. But, damn, I don’t know any other way to live my life.

Has Spring Sprung?

It is the first day of April as I write this. The trees outside my window are starting to bud and I see pigeons every day. Baseball season starts today and I joined a fantasy league with a few old college friends like I do every spring.

Spent the morning in my complex’s library a couple days ago. Caught up with a few neighbors I hadn’t seen during the winter. I’m still a little paranoid about venturing out even though millions of people are already vaccinated. I read a lot to pass the time. Still do audiobooks a couple hours a day in addition to traditional paper books. Bought groceries this morning. So I’m set for several days.

Still sleeping a lot. I usually go to bed around 10pm, wake up in the middle of the night to visit the bathroom, and then usually get up for good shortly after 6am. I sometimes nap in the early afternoons. The best time for me to host visitors is usually late mornings or the noon hour.

I don’t have plans for Easter, at least not yet. Probably going to call family and friends after church services. I might be more into it if I were near my nephews and niece or my cousins’ kids. My aunt usually hosts Easter dinner and all my cousins’ bring their families. It was cancelled last year due to covid and I don’t know the plans for this year. I’ll probably do zoom calls to my parents and brother’s kids.

Saw my parents a couple weeks ago. First time I got to see them since Christmas. My parents said they are proud of how I have handled the pandemic, being essentially on my own for a year while handling a mental illness. Other than a couple breakdowns, I think I’ve done alright. Sure I don’t socialize much, at least not in person. But I’ve always been an introvert who appreciated alone time and people in small doses. A few people in my complex had the covid already. Two friends of mine have had it. Three of my cousins had it. A lady who had sold some acreage land to my parents years ago died from it. I’ve heard that Germany and France are back on lockdowns again. Vaccines are still going out hard and heavy here in the US. Cases are starting to increase again here in the US after weeks of decline. I was afraid cases would increase once the weather started warming and people went out in large crowds more.

Looks like winter has ended. I wouldn’t be surprised if we do get another snow storm or two. But they won’t last long now. I think spring has sprung.

Push For Spring

Weather has finally warmed up after a couple weeks of the most frigid cold I have experienced since childhood. I never lost power or water. A friend of mine in Omaha said they had rolling black outs but she was without power for only a couple hours.

I weathered the worst of winter pretty well. Even though I don’t leave my apartment every day, I still keep in contact with friends and family. My neighbor and I drop in on each other a few times a week to check in on each other. I did sleep a lot this winter but haven’t had any truly serious problems. Still get groceries delivered a few times a month.

Mentally I’m stable. At least as stable as I can be during a pandemic. I’ve had a few breakdowns over the last year. But they were short lived and didn’t require meds changes or going the the hospital. It sometimes gets lonely, to be sure. I’m glad I love to read and can keep myself occupied that way. While I’m not currently on any major reading projects, I usually spend a couple hours a day reading online articles. Most of them are science, tech, and business related. I try to avoid most things about politics. Too divisive and stressful for my tastes.

As far as computer games go, I’ve dusted a few of my older games off and been messing with those lately. I’ve gotten into Medieval Total War and the Railroad Tycoon series the last couple weeks. Sometimes I’ll do PlayStation Madden NFL or FIFA Soccer for a change up. I can’t really get into first person shooter games much. They just don’t hold my interest quite like Civilization or the Total War series.

Still doing lots of cooking. My cleaning lady told me she can tell a good cook by how messy the kitchen is after a meal. I still don’t eat fast food very often. Actually haven’t had any fast food since before Christmas. Most fast food upsets my stomach and makes me feel sluggish any more. But I do make lots of soups and pasta dishes. I do grilling on the Foreman grill too. Don’t do any baking or desserts though. I haven’t tried my hand at baking sourdough bread yet.

Been watching small college football on the weekends. It seems weird to be watching football in February. But then the last year has been anything but typical. I renewed my ESPN Plus subscription so I can catch some of these games. And baseball spring training has been going for almost a couple weeks now. I don’t usually feel like winter is ending until I’ve seen a preseason baseball game or two.

My parents have now had both rounds of the covid vaccine. They’re getting out and about more often. They pick up the grandkids from school usually a couple times per week and do in person shopping and church. And I heard that a third vaccine has been approved here in the US just a couple days ago. Maybe we are starting to see the end of the line for this pandemic. I probably will get my vaccine sometime this summer. Not being a senior citizen or essential worker means I’m pretty low priority. But I’ve avoided getting sick for a year now. A few more months is manageable.

December 5 2020

I’m probably spending Christmas 2020 by myself this year. I think it’s still too risky for my elderly parents to travel several hundred miles during a pandemic. I see vaccine distributions will start right before Christmas here in the USA. I read that England approved theirs a few days ago. I’ll probably get mine in the spring. Meanwhile I’ll probably spend winter close to my home, wear masks when I have guests, and spend my days reading and working on computers.

Bought some groceries yesterday. Talk to my neighbors for a few minutes every day. One of my neighbors, whom is still very mobile, often picks up mail and packages for the less mobile residents of my complex. I gave him several facemasks as he’s often on the go.

I’m starting to sleep less again. I’m up late most nights. But haven’t felt any ill side effects yet. Started lifting weights a week ago. I haven’t had problems with paranoia for weeks. I also don’t notice people walking and talking in the hallways as much lately.

Thanksgiving During Pandemic

I’m spending my Thanksgiving in my apartment this year. I couldn’t get my ham so I’m grilling bratwursts and making a large pot of cheese soup instead. I’ll also be doing Zoom calls with my parents and my brother’s family. I think most people in my complex are either staying home or going to local relatives. My cleaning lady said she’d bring a plate for me and the rest of her disabled clients.

Been listening to audiobooks more lately. Currently a couple hours into some Nietchze. As far as my other projects for pandemic, I recently finished Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith. I started back in February and finished a few days ago. Certainly a worthwhile read for anyone interested in history and economics. Granted it’s really long, almost as long as the Bible. Been reading more poetry too, mostly Emerson, Whitman, and Dickenson. Read some Kipling this summer.

Read in the news yesterday a third vaccine is ready for FDA approval. I think it’s from AstraZenica. I just hope enough people use it and distribution can be solved. I imagine front line health care workers, police, and military will be the first in line Hopefully I can get mine sometime by summer 2021. In the meantime, I’m avoiding crowds and wearing masks when I meet delivery drivers. For the ones that don’t come to my apartment, one of my healthier neighbors will drop off packages for myself and the other shut ins.

I did have a slight flare up over the weekend. Thankfully it was short lived. Nothing a few minutes of ranting and several hours of sleep couldn’t solve. Overall I’m doing well even if I am voluntarily isolating. I just hope this burns out soon.

Inspiration and Bringing To Light The Things Done In Secret

Even though I’ve been feeling hopeful and optimistic overall during the last couple weeks, I still don’t socialize in person much. Then again, that could be why I’m optimistic. While most people have been allowing themselves to be bombarded by constant bad news, I’ve been making efforts to figure out what is actually going right. My entire life I’ve heard that the world was messed up and we would collapse back to the Stone Age any day now. It really messed with my head when I was growing up. It was one of the reasons I preferred to spend most of my days alone in my backyard. I’d spend hours on end out there pacing through the cedar and cherry trees making up stories. I’d made up stories of heroes, future worlds where we solved most of our current problems (like climate change, poverty, war, disease, etc.) and were exploring outer and inner space. I never read comic books or science fiction novels as a kid. The nearest bookstore was over an hour drive away. Most people in my hometown thought “The Simpsons” and “South Park” were morally degenerate but war movies, westerns, and crime dramas were “wholesome family entertainment.”

As I didn’t have much inspiring hope in me as a kid, I had to manufacture my own. Granted, this was in the years before youtube and binge watching Star Trek reruns on Netflix. My best friend from my teenage years (the same lady who is my best friend even now) was probably even more alienated and an outsider than I was. I could at least fake enthusiasm in things like watching sports and politics I didn’t agree with. And I still do, mainly as a mechanism to appear like one of the crowd. I am actually more effected by the reactions of my family and friends to things like politics and our team suffering a losing streak than I am the politics and losing itself. Sadly, social media only amplified this.

Yet, I’m still thankful that enough people had the vision and ability to make social media work to bring it to the world at large. Sure, it was painful seeing sides of people I had known my entire life I would have wished I never knew existed. But I also found out who were really cool people I could count on in times of crisis. I may have lost lots of friends over the last several years, but I strengthened others in the process. Social media and the last few years of social unrest and change have really driven home the fact that most people have the friends they have, not because of shared interests and values, but due to lack of options. I have often had more acceptance and friendship from strangers I’ll never meet in my various facebook groups than I experienced from some people I have known since childhood.

Social media also allowed me to find out who the really toxic people were in my life. Once I gave up trying to talk sense into these people, I cut them out of my life. It was a tough process, but one that was worth it. People like that have always been toxic. It was just in previous eras this toxicity would have never been made public knowledge. These may have been the types of people who were pillars of the community in public but beat and shamed their children and spouse behind closed doors. One positive about social media is that is exposed the con artists and liars for what they are. People like that could have gone entire lifetimes being such and would have probably never been detected. The people who can be aware of how messed up those in power and in our own social circle can be are figuring it out. We don’t necessary need an entire population of citizens aware of how bad they are being cheated by those in authority that have never cared about them. Just enough to force changes are necessary.

Sometimes all it takes is the actions of only one really dedicated individual to inspire others whom in term inspire others. I mean, does anyone know who Gandhi’s brothers and sisters were (without going to wikipedia)? Or Isaac Newton’s? Or Greta Thunberg’s? Or Martin Luther King’s? Short term, fear and hate usually win. Long term, it is usually love and hope that wins out. Sure we have our problems and always will. But that doesn’t mean that progress is in illusion. I absolutely despise people who believe progress isn’t real and that even individual people can’t change. I’ve ended friendships over these attitudes. I spent my entire childhood being bombarded by negativity, pessimism, and fear. I will never go back. Hell, I feel like I was cheated by my elders for trying to steal my optimism and hope. They may have fought to take my hope and crush my spirit and kill my creativity. But they failed and they failed miserably. If anything, they made my resolve even stronger. And I’m not unique in this regard. I imagine every city, town, village, cross roads, tribe, etc. all over the world has at least a few kids who were “hopeless dreamers” who refused to be “practical” in spite of the negativity and punishments of their elders. And many of these kids grew up to be the adults who made positive change possible in their own ways. The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are often the ones who accomplish just that. In short, now is probably one of the lousiest times in human history to be a pessimist who naively clings to comfortable lies of the past. It is also an awful time to a tyrant so seeks to divide people and rule through fear.

Finding Happiness in 2020

Even though I don’t socialize much in person anymore, I try my best to stay connected to family and friends. Talked with my parents over FaceTime this morning. My dad had a check up on his heart and he does not need stints or surgery. He is joining a neighborhood gym as he wants to get more active again. I started lifting weights again on a regular basis last week. Even after a few sessions I can feel the strength and endurance starting to return.

In bad news, two of my friends in Omaha tested positive for covid. They are under quarantine for the next two weeks. They aren’t able to work and they sleep most of the time. One friend is a delivery man so he obviously can’t be going anywhere until this clears. Fortunately they seem to be doing better now than a few days ago. I imagine eventually I’ll catch this too. I just hope it’s mild. Even though I’m only 40, I am overweight and mentally ill.

Got some groceries coming this morning. I’m rebuilding my winter supplies. The leaves are starting to change in my hometown. I usually have my windows open during the day but run the furnace at night as it’s starting to get chilly after dark.

I’ve been forcing myself out of my apartment a couple times a day for almost a week now. Sometimes it is as simple as just standing in the hallway for a few minutes. Sometimes I’ll even set up a chair in my doorway so I can sit and try to chat with whomever shows up.

I nap more during the days. I am usually my most active in late mornings and overnights these days. My sleep patterns can change with the seasons and they change if my illness changes too. Haven’t had any serious breakdowns for a few weeks. I still have minor flare ups at least once or twice per day. They don’t usually last long. I have gotten to where I can just let them pass and not feel bad they happen.

I have a couple packages from amazon coming this afternoon. I imagine kids growing up today look forward to the amazon delivery man as much as I did going to the mall when I was growing up.

Changed the parts on my cpap machine yesterday. Slept really well last night. I try to change out the parts a few times a year just to keep the machine properly working.

I don’t have much else planned for the rest of the week. My cleaning lady arrives on Thursday afternoon. I like her. She engages me in conversation while she works. I usually just stay sat down and out of her way while she cleans. I supply the cleaning agents and she does the rest. And she at least tolerates my eccentric sense of humor 🙂

Avoiding Social Interactions

Been pretty stable lately. I imagine much of this is due to avoiding news sites and negative people. I’ve also all but abandoned social media. I have only a handful of people I even try to contact on facebook. If it weren’t for them, I would have cancelled my account years ago. I no longer comment on youtube videos or anywhere else. People are just so mean and angry all the time. It makes for a lonely existence some days. I get told all the time I need to socialize and reach out to people. There is no point to socialize and reach out if these people just make you feel worse. I’m too tired and burned out to argue about stupid crap that doesn’t matter. Anymore I feel happier when I am not forced to socialize. So much for people coming together during times of crisis. I refuse to give negative and rude people any time or effort or second chances anymore. If you can’t figure out that being angry and rude to people isn’t helpful by now, it’s never going to happen.

Labor Day Weekend

With the Labor Day weekend upon us, the seasons will be changing again soon. Got a ballgame on in the background. First football game I’ve seen live since the start of the pandemic. I am ready for some resemblance of normal again. Ordered some chicken wings and I’ll be watching football all day. One of my friends is hosting his in laws this weekend and smoking several pounds of pork for the weekend. Weather is supposed to start cooling off in a few days. Mentally, I’ve always done better in cooler weather.

In addition to American football, I’ve been watching some of the UEFA tournament the last few days. It’s usually on in the mornings here in USA. Makes me long for the Olympics next summer. I’ll be glad when the vaccines are perfected and the pandemic burns out. 2020 has been a trying year for most people. At least I can stay connected via internet.