Not Impossible (Schoolgirl Days)

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When I think to things that once seemed impossible but became impossible was integrating into regular classes in grade 9.

I have been in social development programs all through elementary school. I had some integrated classes in elementary school (usually a once or few times per week thing) but I don’t recall any of them were wildly successful. The worst one was when I was supposed to be a mentor for a younger class. That didn’t go that well and I’m not sure why they thought it would.

For high school, I was in Pacific Storm Social Development at Sir Charles Tupper Secondary. When I was in grade 8, we had two integrated elective blocks – one was a rotation of fine arts (drawing, graphics, drama) and the other was a rotation of other things (Applied Skills…I just remember it had woodworking and home ec). It was not that easy for me but I eventually got the hang of it. Some courses were modified quite heavily for me to accommodate me (I’m looking at you, Drama).

I was 13 years old. I didn’t know it at the time but my social world was going to become more and more insular. By the time I was 13, ¬†I didn’t think I’ll ever go into regualar classes. I doubted I would go to university.

At last half of grade 9, I was nearly fully integrated. In grade 10, I had one block with Pacific Storm even though the program was grade 8-9 (though it said grades 8-10 for YEARS). In grade 11, I had one skills block that I seemed to use for napping….but wound up running back to a Pacific Storm staff member in times of “crisis”. In grade 12, I wound up going back to Pacific Storm to “peer tutor” (kids didn’t like me much, go figure) although I can’t say I did a very good job (I don’t know why people keep thinking I’ll be a good tutor!)…in reality, it was more like “catching up with folks”. I was offered a skills block in grade 12 but opted for spare. Although in grades 11-12 I was technically with the resource centre for support, I never strayed that far away from Pacific Storm (but they didn’t do a good job of kicking me out either ūüėõ ).

Long after I graduated (thankfully), Pacific Storm has since moved to Britannia. I am very glad that happened much after or I would have been so screwed with my “not part of the program, part of the program” status in grade 10-12.

As for the hoopla with special needs in regular classrooms? I don’t know. I think I would have enjoyed the academic challenge (except for math) if I was integrated earlier. But I also think that the social development programs kept me relatively safe from bullies and let me form friendships. I am not sure if I would have formed a friendship if I wasn’t in that setting. ALL of the friends I ever had (and may ever have at this rate lol) were peers from my social development classes. Actually, come to think if it, I might have very well have gotten kicked out of a regular classroom for such poor social interaction skills, especially when it got way worse around grade 2 or 3. I don’t know what happened. People have asked me that before. At any rate, it was like my world fell in.

When I was around 12-13 , I did not imagine that I go to regular classes or will attend university. That seemed nearly impossible. I knew nothing more other than social development programs.

But I did. I now have a BA in English. But I was reasonably good at academics and my accommodations allowed me to stay in my comfort zone for the most part.

Now, I am struggling to see myself getting a job and living independently. But this is harder.

This is so much harder. And it does seem impossible a lot of the time.

I can’t handle phones. Or introductions. Or interviews. Or anything else it seems.

I don’t have the independence or social skills ¬†that one expects from someone my age.¬†Sometimes it seems like I don’t want to do it when I do but I’m just really overwhelmed.

I long for the days of school hallways…so structured, so comforting….

So unpopular, people need be paid to virtually chat with me too?

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I don’t have friends. ¬†Now apparently, I can’t email someone either and get fast replies unless they are paid to do so. ¬†According to the person arranging a possible new worker, anyway. ¬†Because I’m that unpopular and almost no one will ever spend time with me unless the are paid or have time to spend with me with regularity. As if I wasn’t rejected enough.

If it’s something functional or for scheduling, I NEED a reply right away as I need to plan out my day…week…whatever. Or at least I like to. I need this information, to ease the uncertainty, to make something uncertain certain. Thus, all functional/schedule based emails need to be answered right away or get edgy awaiting them as then I won’t know what’s going on. I become disorientated, uncertain in my crumbling framework of possibility, unsure what is going on next. (My mom doesn’t help these matters either, constantly asking if something is confirmed).

With some exceptions, people only ever hang out with me if they are getting paid. Yes, I apparently I need to pay people to be my friends. I’m just that unpopular. However, I found a way around that a bit – emails! I’m very good in written communications so email ¬†etc is perfect for me. But I don’t get many emails back so I LOVE it when I get replies.

The rest…it can wait, but I LOVE it when reply reply fast. It makes me feel more connected, less of a non-friend. It makes feel that somebody cares. That somebody cared enough to reply back. It makes me smile. I love it. For once, I’m not the only one. I write things to Solitude again and again, but he will never reply. Nor will Fear or Loneliness or Uncertainty or Happiness or any of their friends. Personified entities are great to write for and with but they suck at replying. They also suck for chatting/texting etc.

But the idea that people need to be paid to answer my emails or chat to me online makes me feel even more unwanted. It’s already bad enough that I can’t seem to get anyone to hang out with me without paying them. Apparently, I’m so unpopular that soon people will be charging to answer my texts, emails and online chat. Would it be a nickel for your thoughts, now that the penny is dead? (Yes, and the text costs twenty cents – well,¬† media theorist Marshall McLuhan did say that the “medium is the message”…not the content). People email, text and social media their friends all the time, I’m sure…oh right, I can’t have friends, that’s not a service I get. Not a service that I’ll ever get it seems.

I don’t get what’s wrong with that. I get that I am annoying. But I don’t get what’s wrong with that, really…having a stupid primitive desire for feedback, validation and comments. Oh I’m annoyed that I have that desire too. ¬†And sometimes, I have looking for feedback. That’s why I’m an English major (I get feedback on my essays and am annoyed when I don’t get it…even when I get a A-) and why English flat classes and hunters at horse shows seem pointless – they are judged competitions but they don’t give feedback per se.

But I like instantaneous communication. If only, I had people to practice it with…

I blame the stupid book that I never finished, House Rules for that realization. In it, the character is made fun of with peers claiming that his social skills tutor is paid to hang out with him (turns out she isn’t)…I kind of got fed up with the book and I never finished it. But I bet the author had no idea how hurtful that sentence was for a person in which that is basically the case. That’s when I realized, that yes, people generally need to be paid to hang out with me with any regularity. There are exceptions and people have hung out with me outside those parameters (especially later on) ¬†but that’s fairly generally true.

And it’s depressing.¬† But wow, it’s true. I have no real friends.

I tend to use workers as friend analogues, since being paid to hang out with me is the closest I’m ever going to get. Sometimes, it actually does work…many people still have email/online contact with me (yes, they have replied) and I’ve even hanged out with some of them in person even after they have finished working with me…without being paid! It almost always happens, actually (some more than others). So I don’t know why it seems to be so hard to get anyone to work with em or hang out with me or do anything with me….well, other than that I have the social skills of a pet rock that can hide. A sarcastic pet rock. A snarky, annoying, demanding pet rock. Some people don’t get the snarky humour and hate it. ¬†Whatever.

I’m so alone. My family doesn’t get me and they don’t like any of the things I like.¬† Horses won’t befriend me as I’m not a horse or a horse whisperer (and I’m not there enough or their sole and/or primary rider). I don’t have friends. I can’t have friends.¬† Not real ones anyway. I’ll just have imaginary ones and that way, there would never be a disagreement ever.¬† I’m not sure if I’ll ever have friends. In a way, life seems easier without them. I may never have close friends. I may will never have a BFF. Not now, possibly not ever. Besides I have lots of hobbies to do on my own.¬† Still, the feeling of being rejected by the world floods into these dark, lonely spaces.

I haven’t met a friend since elementary school (and much of the time they were younger than me…or I hung out with adults). I haven’t had close friends since early high school. Even when was hanging out at the barn helping day camps one summer, I never really befriended the other two younger girls (they 12, I was 16). Sure, they let me hung out with them. That was about it. It was cool, I suppose – it was the closest I had for friends in years, people to hang out with. But that’s it…I knew those two were closer to each other and everyone else than me. I was the third wheel, the person that was there just because I happened to be around. That didn’t last too long though – I more or less got “laid off” since they only wanted 2 helpers per week and I was not it. I was so not it. Even if it wasn’t because I sucked, it was because that others had other people they would rather hang out with. ¬†Because¬† I was out of place again – they were all younger than me, richer than me and better at horses and riding than me (I had other issues with riding at the time but that’s still how I felt).

I don’t make friends. It doesn’t work for me. Or at least it hasn’t.

So I try for friend analogues. I may not be their “real”¬† “friend” (both words are disputable as far as meaning is concerned) but they can perform some of the functions of one. Emailing makes it feel less like I’m some sort of job for them and more like a person. If they don’t like it, then too bad. Others seem to manage fine. Sort of. Maybe not. Who knows. They don’t HAVE to reply unless it’s a functional email (scheduling, planning, need to get information). Information by definition is a way to decrease uncertainty according to some thinkers. That works for me. It’s not the same as knowledge, that is different.

Right now, my best friend is Solitude.¬† I wish I could replace that with some sort of equine (even though Solitude will always be my BFF in some way). But it’s so not happening now…

The Odd Duck Out

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Photo: I’m not even sure what kind of duck this is (the rest are definitely mallards).¬† Based on my research I believe it may be a “manky mallad”¬† of some sort but I am not certain. Still, odd duck – even more fitting! Photo shot and edited by me. Reifel bird sanctuary, Summer 2012.

I have always felt like the odd duck out. The odd coloured one. The one that people had a strange fascination towards but still never befriended me. The ungainly ugly little duckling that no one wanted to play with (growing up didn’t make it better either).¬† The one who is even unsure of who one is. But still, no matter where I was or who I was, I never quite fit in. Duck. Duck. Duck. Weird duck. Duck. Duck.

For one, I am not good at math nor have a May birthday (much of my family is). I am a girl (unlike my any of cousins as a very young child). I am quite literate and occasionally artistic (my family isn’t). I like horses and of course, my family doesn’t either. When I was a child…no one really wanted to play with me. At least, not the “typical” children. Like the odd duck, I never really understand why no one wanted to play with me but I accepted it. I mean what else you do, demand people to play with you? (I may have tried it. If I did, it did not work.)

I never had really close friends or best friends (if anyone becomes my BBF….congrats, you’re the first)…all my friends were always quite light, superficial. I only had friends as a younger child. By high school, although there were a few acquaintances within classes, I had mostly become a loner.¬† Undergrad – both my lower levels at a local college and my upper levels at a local university was a massively isolating experience.¬† People talk about social lives in college/university, but I don’t think most understand how profoundly isolating it is when all you do is go to class and you don’t really have any social skills.

I ride horses too and I’ve been riding for a while (never said I was good at it…but I stay on most of the time).¬† Did I make any friends there? Of course not! Even common interests cannot bring me together with a friend (even though it felt like I sucked at horses compared to everyone). I did eventually had some acquaintances when I hung out at the barn…but still never friends and it was not uncommon that they ignored me. I always felt like the tag-along…thing anyway even though I was older than them. I wished for a equine friend but that didn’t quite happen either. I guess you need the horse to do that…or better horse or friend-making skills. However, I got bullied around by a young horse ….interesting but not quite the “special relationship” I was looking for. Class divides (oh they exist so much) aside, I’m also nearly the only flat-only mostly recreational rider in a barn full of jumping show horses…things that I don’t do. Even if I did jump (and I don’t for several confusing reasons), I’ll never show at that level. It’s a sport for the privileged and I will admit that equestrian is elitist…and I am so far from that socioeconomic class, it’s not even funny. That would likely never be a part of my world. Oh yes, the inferiority complex is alive and well (not as bad as it has been though).

I never had pets as my family is not into animals so I had relatively limited exposure to them. I rarely had any close friends. I was always the odd duck out, alone. Whereas it got better for the ugly duckling, it got worse for me as I got older. I did not become a swan, instead I became more isolated, odder. The one that people ask if I’m okay or lost as I wander out, or stare out into space, mind lost in thoughts. Eventually, I would be the one that people may be slightly fascinated in (at least during high school) but remain distanced. As if I was wearing different feathers, a different pattern than the other ducks that everyone looks at but find it’s too different for them. I stand aside, never fully included and never fully belonging.

I go to school but I am isolated, distanced even though we are all in the same place. It’s as if I occupy a different dimension than everyone else, momentary disseminating and reappearing randomly. Sometimes we see each other, but we hardly ever interact. The two dimensions rarely¬† “Integration” is a misnomer. I may have gone to class with “typical” students. I may did the same academic work that everyone else does. I did “integration” periods in elementary school and was eventually fully integrated by grade 10. But again, “Integration” is a misnomer. Just because I occupy the same space as “typical” students does not make me part of their world. The rest of the ducks make friends, socialize, while I waddle off, on my own in search of my own pond. I still haven’t found it.

But I’m tired of not belonging, in nearly every space.

Yet,¬† I don’t want to be like the other ducks.

An Open Letter to Loneliness

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Dear Loneliness,

I know I’ve tried to pretend that you don’t exist. How I tried to pretend the you weren’t there in the shadows as me and Solitude spent increasing time together. I tried to believe that I was invincible to such human desires, as if I had evolved beyond that need.¬† I tried to believe that you would not be around even as I constantly hang out with your fraternal twin, Solitude.

But you were. I wouldn’t mind it if you occasionally stop by with Solitude every so often, but your lurking presence is grating. I’m not sure what to do with you, or me for that matter.

I’m sorry for ignoring you. It’s just that I thought I evolved past the need for trivial social bonds with a living creature (usually of own species but not necessarily but I haven’t been successful in either fronts).¬† I guess I haven’t. Not really though I’ve been desensitized to it. If you repeat something enough, it may not be any more true than it was initially but maybe it will seem more true (it probably won’t seem any less true).

So I finally I admit that you are here, hiding in the corners of my walls and in the shadows. I tried to pretend that you weren’t there, tried to pretend that I didn’t see you. But there you are.

Loneliness, I don’t know what I’m going to do with you. But I know that I am not immune to your grasp as much I tried to believe I was. Maybe you’ll have me. Maybe you won’t. I don’t know.

Sincerely, Jen

 

 

An Open Letter to Solitude

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Dear Solitude,

You’re my only true¬†friend. ¬†The only friend who understands me and is always with me. You are the only one that I truly know, that will go wherever I go. The only one that will always be with me.

I know you’ll never leave me, Solitude. That you’ll always be there for me whether it be at noon or in the light of the moon.¬† That you’ll always embrace me whenever I need you. It doesn’t matter where I am. Whenever I need you, you”ll be there.

People will come and go, only¬†momentarily¬†connecting. They will come. Then they will go. Sometimes in the background. Sometimes in the foreground. Occasionally, they might step into my universe. Perhaps mingle it in for awhile and rarely, well nearly never truly voluntarily. I can’t make real friends. But you Solitude, will always be here with me. I know you will always be my friend.

I’m the most comfortable when I’m with you – whether it be indoors or meandering outside, through the streets and through the woods. I lean into your space. Even if other people are around, I’m still clinging to you. Even though I know you’ll never go, your familiarity is comforting.

We have long conversations together, just you and me – in silence. We spend endless hours together – just you and me.

I know that some people are scared of you. That they get you and you fraternal twin Loneliness missed up even though you two are different. But I don’t mix you two up. I’m not afraid of you. I look forward to walking with you and curling up in bed with just you and me.

Maybe some people think that it’s not good that we hang out so much together. And maybe sometimes, Loneliness goes come and join us. But I’ll always love you and I’ll never leave you. And I know that you’ll always be with me, even if no one else wants to hang around me. ¬†Solitude, you’ll always be my best friend, since no one else will.

Much love,
Jen

The Void

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The void is overbearing, looming ahead of me. I don’t know what to do. It is ever-approaching and I feel utterly unprepared for what is to come ahead. Whatever it is.

I started my last semester this week. It’s a¬†mixture¬†of relief – the ending of the draining, droning¬†rhythm¬†of school. You go to lecture. You read. You listen. You study. You write. Then you wonder about your grade. ¬†And of course, leaping from one panicked deadline to another. But all and all, it’s¬†familiar. ¬†That fact, for the moment is the most important. Stagnancy is easy to come by because it’s hidden under the guise of familiarity.

But I don’t know what’s going to happen now. Everything I knew, is poised to fall apart, unravel from the frayed ends. I’m not completely sure what’s going to happen with the horse thing which is unrelated, but still falls within the same time period. The period of¬†upheaval¬†¬†disorientation¬†and panic. Everything wants to unravel, sinking deep into the void of the unknown.

Graduating university is supposed to be good. It’s supposed to be the start of freedom. Somehow, you’re supposed to come out with friends from the education process but I have¬†never been¬†able to do that. Not even close. It’s supposed to be a time when you’re reaching your next step, going onto bigger and¬†better¬†things.

But it’s not. I feel trapped, desperately banging on the walls of the life, the world that I don’t feel that I belong. While I was always alone, now I’m really alone, with no one able to offer me any sort of knowledge of the future. I don’t have friends to chat with. I don’t know anyone who understands. No one seems to want to work with me. I seem to have direction, but no way to get there. Increasingly, I’m not sure if I’ll ever get there.

How do you know if you’re hovering or simply falling at a steady rate but never hitting the ground? How do you know you’re riding the currents or near the cusp of drowning? How do you if this is the end or the beginning? How do you know where you’re headed if all you can see is¬†absolutely¬†nothing?

I don’t know what’s in the void, for the good or bad. But all I know that’s incredibly dark here. And there’s no one but me. Nothing to show me the way and little to cling to.

I don’t know what’s happening. I don’t know what to do in a place made for a species that I do not feel quite¬†truly¬†part of.

And I am terrified.

A Sonnet to Solitude

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You surround me, all around
in this empty, lingering space
without so much as a sound
and never will I know your face

You follow me through the doorway
past the coat hangers and garden gate
following me as I walk along this way
pondering about existential fate

I run into the thicket, calm and serene
with you ‚Äď hand in hand
even though you are still unseen
I know you’ll understand

But sometimes all I see is monotone
and I wonder why I’m here all alone

Note: I wrote this as part of a set of 4 fixed poems for a class. However, this is the only one that I actually like (the other ones suck). This is a Shakespearean Sonnet for those not in the know.

The Moon Knows Solitude (video)

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The Moon Knows Solitude from Jennego on Vimeo.

Poem text: “The Moon Knows Solitude”

She hovers there in the dark sky
as I wander alone in the lonely night
wondering what I’m doing here
but the moon, she too knows solitude

Not just in one of her shy phases
hiding and peering in her celestial curtains
but she is too, all alone

Maybe Earth gives her company,
the flow of the tides
and as the awe of humanity

But she is lonely in her orbit
her dark side looking on to
the great planets with many moons,
and the cozy families too

But the moon ‚Äď there‚Äôs no one like her around here
no other celestial orb to share her Earth
except for the odd asteroid (and space crap)
to keep her company every now and then

I stare into the night
sharing the moment with the moon
following her silver stare
and now here we are
less alone in our mutual friend,
solitude

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I wrote this over the weekend, thinking about solitude and then somehow thinking about the moon. In many ways it reflects us both I guess.

Surprisingly, I have little to say about this poem other than that I was too impatient to let it linger before revising it.

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Written, Designed & Animated by me.

Additional sound credits

Freesound credits (that got me flagged on Vimeo)

freesound.org/people/rhapsodize/sounds/171823/
freesound.org/people/Gorgoroth6669/sounds/76456/
freesound.org/people/Leandros.Ntounis/sounds/163607/
freesound.org/people/inchadney/sounds/25945/

Music

freemusicarchive.org/music/Chris_Zabriskie/

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A Life Without People

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Well, not literally a life without people.

But close enough.

Outside of my family, I’ve had very little daily interaction with other people. I’ve never really interacted with my peers. We always seemed to be at different points of reality, as if we were¬†occupying¬†different¬†dimensions¬†in the same space.

It was always like this, to some¬†extant. But it got worse during high school. It seemed that the gap was widening and widening to the point that we’re¬†completely¬†unconnected. But I never connected well with my peers. It seems that I get along better with people who are older or younger than myself. Somehow, both groups were more willing to talk to me but not those from my own age group.

I can be annoying anyone who is not me. I have a snarky sense that annoys people but I find greatly amusing – I’m pretty proud of my snarky replies sometimes (maybe I should contain to scripts or something). But not no one can complain about “I’m amazed you have friends you’re so annoying”¬†because¬†I don’t have friends. I’m not that sure if I want close friends. ¬†They’re too hard to get. Too complicated. Life is¬†simpler¬†without managing relationships of all or any kinds.

For the most part, I’ve lived my life almost without people from the outside world. I don’t even know what¬†friends¬†are anymore…they are almost abstractions to me. I hear they¬†exist¬†but I don’t really know what they are. ¬†It’s like my version of dark matter or something!

I’m¬†fascinated¬†by “life without people” and “creatures of the far future”¬†speculative¬†documentaries and um…semi-fiction (I guess?).

But I don’t know. I guess I don’t like people. Or at least, people I don’t know. Maybe it gets lonely sometimes and very¬†disconnecting¬†but I can’t imagine it any other way.

Also, I did a few online¬†personality¬†tests (Myers-Briggs) and whatever I did and whatever test I tried, I wound up as¬†INTJ (Introverted¬†Intuitive¬†Thinking¬†Judging…so I guess I’m a INTJ. Apparently they are thinkers. But I suck as a¬†scientist (me and math) and um….yeah. I sometimes score 100%¬†introvert. And part of the it is due to that fact that I’m an overthinker. Although, I have not been around people enough really really know if being around people actually sucks energy from me so I’m not always 100% if I’m an introvert since I really don’t have great social skills…

Because I live in a life without people sort of (I sound like I’m living in the future!), some of the questions are¬†unanswerable¬†to me such as the ones about parties (I don’t go to parties and you can’t drag me to one) and¬†friends¬†groups (I haven’t worked in groups and I don’t have friends).

I did look into¬†librarian¬†stuff though…but a master’s degree is hard to get into and library tech doesn’t pay very well. Jobs aren’t that¬†plentiful¬†either and most of them can’t be done remotely. I also don’t want to work with the public.

I don’t know what I want to do. Sometimes I wish I can go off into a¬†mystical¬†land without people. Or math, because you know, I suck at math. (Why does all my¬†personality¬†tests point to programming when I suck at math? I tried¬†JavaScript and didn’t get it! HTML/CSS is fine….programming? I don’t know about that one. Which is also why I’m not sure what I want to do!)