Emergency Backup Blog

I've been trying to parse the significance of the trip. I think the most important thing was establishing a sense of connection. In several ways.

I met an online friend of 11 years for the first time, likely also the last time but it's great to know what somebody is like in person and verify it's the same as in text. It re-values not just my relationship with that friend, but with all my online friends, every time I get another confirmation of how easily my friendships transfer offline when there's an opportunity. It's a good reminder that all these people are real friends even if I never meet them, and that meeting them really wouldn't be that different (sort of paradoxical there, that the insignificance of meeting in person makes it so highly significant).

Also re-met an online friend who I rarely talk to, but who invited me to stay with her and her family. This reinforces the feeling that even people I don't feel very close to can pop up at random and be a big help and even offer me transformational moments. That helps me to value other people I message a few times a year. When you have a limited social capacity, it's great to be able to highly value people who take up very little of that capacity.

Then there's connection to the land, seeing 3.5 new states. Places like Salt Lake City and Denver aren't just concepts on a map anymore, and I know I can reach them in a long day's drive. So the world feels a bit smaller, and my options a bit larger.

Perhaps the most useful thing about big trips though is having something to look forward to in the future. With that in mind, I'm penciling in Portland for a year from now. With a little luck, having that on the horizon will allow the year to pass without that nagging feeling that I have no plans between now and my corpse being discovered rotting away in my apartment after dying of old age a year earlier.
Social anxiety almost got me free pizza today. There was a knock, I panicked for a few moments, by the time I got to the door there was nothing visible through the peephole so I figured the evil children were back. But I decided to look out the kitchen window, where I could just see a delivery guy lingering, so I went out and saw he'd left a pizza on the ground by my door. Then, after informing him that my apartment complex has two #12s for no good reason, I pondered whether I should order a welcome mat with "you have the wrong address" printed on it.

Bought 4 Christmas cards this year on a brave outing to Dollar Tree's lack of self-checkout. Then realized I needed 5 and printed off a custom one to fill the gap. My biggest send ever.

I'm cautiously optimistic that somebody will actually show up to my social anxiety group's holiday gift exchange on Saturday. I hope that'll be a start of reviving that group. The hiking group is sputtering, nobody comes to most of them but occasionally somebody signs up and at least they don't no show.

Went to the board game group for the first time since August, because they had an event at a location that's easier to handle than usual. Maybe I'll go back every month or two, we'll see.

Pondering a booster shot next week. Not really looking forward to being miserable for a day or two for the sake of extra protection from something I have 99.9% less exposure to than most people, but I guess I should fulfill my responsibility anyway.
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One dropped out the day before, four a**holes no showed without a word, and one texted that he'd be 45 minutes late. So, having wasted $6 of gas and a couple hours of my day, I went home. Closed the group. The one thing I learned organizing it from 2014 to 2021 is that most people with social anxiety are too self-absorbed and selfish to literally lift a finger for you. Frankly, the reason most of them struggle socially is that people actually do hate them with good reason -- because they're jerks who are late or no show without a moment's tap to indicate it whenever people invite them somewhere.

For a long time, I thought that might just be how most people are. But with my hiking group, I discovered that normal people are actually considerate. Nobody shows up to most of those meetups either, and most of the people who initially sign up there change their minds, but they never fail to indicate their change of mind. So it's just SA people. I've got a better chance with the normies.
My Moderna booster left me feeling just as crappy as the last two shots, but at least it subsides slightly quicker each time. About 24 hours this time (after an onset delay of only ~12 hours). 'Tis annoying that it'll probably only help much for a couple months.

This month has been so cold, even snowy at times, rare for here. That's making it too easy to stay at home all the time huddled up doing nothing. Well, so it goes.

Christmas was nice, predictably boring. New year's will be the same as every year, staying home alone not observing. The next thing that I expect to happen is... uh... my mom's birthday in late April.

I guess 2021 was a good year. I was happy to complete 7 audio dramas, 2 film riffs and 2 short stories. My micro-income ticked up slightly instead of the usual down. I managed the trip. I coped well with every social situation I encountered, but was unable to manufacture more such encounters. And in a strange way, the ease with which I socialized all year made me feel more hopeless about it -- because even when I feel like I'm doing as well as imaginable it still doesn't lead to forming any friendships.
This has been one of my most boring months in memory. I know that's quite a luxury to be able to complain about, but unfortunately the human brain is designed to adapt to resent whatever situation it may find itself in.

There's been a few meetup hikes, nothing particularly interesting about them but I'm glad some people have showed up. I overcame my anxiety enough to message the leader of the softball group I've been going to for years and ask him if he wanted me to create a new group for him, since the group he previously posted softball to closed and I can make two more groups for free on my subscription. So we got that started and are hoping to start playing next month.

I also started a new series of 100 second audio dramas, and slapped together three of them, two based on micro-fiction I wrote a long time ago:
The brevity challenges me to cut out everything unnecessary, and prevents the editing from getting tedious.
After 3 years, I finally made a dentist appointment! I made the call about 6 months ago but they weren't there, this time I caught them in the office and was able to schedule for March 1st. Now to wait for the inevitable fillings and hopefully nothing worse...

The hike meetups have been getting more popular lately. I've been spending a lot of time talking to the same person at ~4 of them lately, I wonder if this is where I'm supposed to pull the magic lever to become friends.

Just finished up a longer drama I'd been working on for a few weeks, and I like how it turned out:
Spring. It's a time of rebirth, relaunch, hope, the world flowering, people flowering as they get their years rolling. It's an awkward time when you're a square wheel and you hit a few bumps and finally get stuck in the grille of the storm drain.

I got back to softball and played three games, and I played well, but now gas is too expensive to do that much considering it's not like I've made any friends in my ~4 years there. And I've been too chicken to go to the board game group for a few months, even though they were playing a game I like tonight. So my hiking group is my social outlet right now. There's one recent regular, Emily, who I seem to spend all my time talking to. I wonder if we can be declared friends at some point (she's probably 25 years older than me, so nothing romantic). More likely at some point she'll suddenly stop coming and I'll be left wondering if it's my fault.

I'm starting a new meetup group called Creative Collaborators, to try to find people to work with on creative projects or trade inspiration. Doubtful if that'll work because of how unpopular Meetup is lately, but my subscription allows me another group for free so I may as well try it and hope it'll lead to meeting some interesting people and not to be humiliated by my superiors.

I have this Sacramento friend who I seem to see about once a year, who used to be in my SA group. Every few months we'll exchange utterly awkward texts. Recently she suggested meeting up next time I'm in the area... except each of the ~3 times I've brought it up again, it's turned out she's still in Wisconsin for reasons I feel too much like she's told me to be willing to ask. Meh. I like her, but what's the point when it's always like that? She's still holding one of my books hostage that I lent her 3 years ago so hopefully we can meet at some point.

Bought a ticket for a Sacramento River Cats game next month. It'll be a little awkward going alone, but the nice thing about buying the grass non-seats is at least I won't stand out or be near anyone.
I had an experience Friday that would've worked out better if I were still too socially anxious to rely on talking to people to solve things.

I went to the Sacramento River Cats game, and as usual used light rail for half of it to save on parking, gas, and the annoyance of driving. I planned to be 90 minutes early to have plenty of time to walk along the river and snag the limited bobblehead promo (which I was going to give to my dad for father's day since it was a Sacramento Solons bobblehead and they were his team back in the 70s until they went bankrupt). But, suddenly I was being herded off the train and onto a "bus bridge" for unspecified reasons. Being socially ambitious now, I asked the employee if the bus was going to my station, which is the end of the rail line, and he said yes follow those women ahead of me they're going to the same place. But I'm not quite socially ambitious enough to go ask them what exactly they're doing or keep an eye on them the whole time or indeed recognize them again from seeing their backs for a couple seconds, so I foolishly assumed this meant the bus was going to stop with my station being the end of the line the same as it would be on the train.

Eventually I suspected something was wrong and opened google maps and realized it was taking me ever further away and across the river. I asked the person next to me where the bus was going, she confirmed it wasn't going where I wanted but said it'd be stopping at a light rail station (of a different line) soon so I figured I'd jump back on the opposite direction from there to get at least somewhere downtown. But after seeing a couple trains not come and one pass by saying "out of service" I realized that wasn't happening.

Google's walking directions told me it was only 4 miles to the stadium so I decided to just walk it and hope the directions wouldn't take me onto a freeway. Which they didn't... instead, they took me through 3 miles of non-stop homeless tents covering every sidewalk. I had no idea Sacramento had such a severe homeless problem, never been in that part of town before. Strangely those streets had almost zero traffic even at rush hour, I guess because most homeless don't drive. Was a bit worried about being mugged or something as the only non-homeless person for miles, but just kept walking as fast as I could looking straight ahead. Fortunately the worst I got was one of them saying something disparaging to me that I didn't quite hear and his friend telling him not to hate because my sort need to walk places too.

Then google directed me into a closed gate, but luckily by then I was into the downtown grid where I could devise my own alternate route. So I arrived about 10 minutes late, or 100 minutes later than expected, missing the promo. And then the game went really slow, so I had to leave before it was over to catch the last train, missing the postgame fireworks show. So missed both promos. Almost missed the last train too because the machine was fiddly and then the correct direction platform was hidden where I didn't expect it, don't know what I'd have done then, but made it with a minute to go.

Anyway, if I'd avoided talking to anyone I probably would've just walked from where the train kicked me off and gotten there hours earlier and saved myself a ton of trouble. But that's just a wry observation. On the plus side, I didn't let any of it bother me much.
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I don't usually blog until something irritating happens to talk about. I've been content lately. "Happy" is probably even the right word. Not ecstatically joyful, that just wouldn't be me. Not without down moments either. But largely satisfied and relaxed.

Have I solved any of my problems? At least made progress on some of them? No. I'm still officially classified as in extreme poverty, but my spend rate is so low I'm not feeling any financial stress. Still haven't had a date in 6 years and failing every attempted conversation on OKC... but I shrug that off, probably nothing ever happens on that front and I'm okay being alone for life but I'm also open to finding someone. Still haven't made new friends, but my meetups are giving me enough acquaintances to fill my social needs along with my old online friends so it's no biggie. Had to cancel my planned Yosemite day trip where I'd have been meeting family, because the costs for it went way up, and I'm just kinda relieved about that because it would've been stressful anyway.

It's spring, the weather is perfect, the days are getting longer, the flowers are in bloom, the world is beautiful. I've got a bunch of beautiful hikes planned. I've been keeping creatively satisfied with writing/producing. I've got a couple streaming subscriptions and baseball season to fill empty time. And of course I've got my health, and everyone I care about has theirs for the moment, nothing to worry about. What more could I ask for?
Went on my first date in 5 years on Saturday. I guess it was better than the last one, by default.

I'd been talking with this woman on the dating site I've been on for 7 years, and she was the first to respond to me in all that time who actually lives very nearby (neighboring town). I ended up suggesting disc golf at the local course.

As I drove up, 20 minutes early since I prefer not to sit at home being anxious, I saw there was some sort of event going on and the parking lot was overflowed and cars were parked down the street. I parked a block away and walked in. The spot where I told her to meet me was filled with some huge family's birthday party I think but I lurked awkwardly nearby. Then I found my phone signal was cutting in and out every few seconds. She called me when I specifically said she could text if she didn't see me, and did it before even trying to look too. Then the call dropped for lost signal in the middle. Found her and immediately said she'd be checking her phone for work messages the whole time and was just on lunch break and wouldn't have more than an hour or two. And she ended up leaving to go back to work (at least officially) after 45 minutes, which I spent sweating buckets in the sun and being constantly stabbed by the evil plants because I can't keep a frisbee on the course and made the mistake of wearing shorts.

Pretty sure I won't be hearing from her again, and dunno if I'd want to. But the conversation went okay for the most part, observational conversation during an activity is my strong suit.
It's that time of year again: the temperatures are triple digit, the skies are gray, it smells like a campfire everywhere, my windshield has specs of ash, and my parents are ready to evacuate (though it's only a recommendation and not mandatory for them yet). Now I spend the next week or two refreshing fire maps and wondering how much will be wiped out this time. I don't anticipate evacuating, but the warning zone does extend to within 5 miles of me, which is a little closer than Caldor came.

Just days before this Mosquito fire, we had a 3 acre flare-up of the Caldor fire. More than a year after the main fire, there are somehow still smoldering logs in the burn scar setting off new blazes. Makes you wonder when you can say a fire is over.

And they say the 2014 King fire burn scar isn't likely to slow this fire at all, so even when every inch has burned in the past decade that won't make it safe. Somehow until recent years I could never imagine climate change being quite so dramatic and fast -- the nearly instantaneous change of all the forests into shrub land.

But this is a good year, because we made it until September before this started.
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Fortunately fire season ended as abruptly as it began.

I finished the first season of my new series 253 Mathilde, and put together a new trailer:

7 episodes in 3 months, whew. I'm not quite sure how I feel about it because it's hard to be objective when I've listened to each episode dozens of times during production. I'll see how it sounds in a few months when I've had time to forget a little.
So, I did my apparently-now-annual early October long distance trip. I was too anxious to digest properly for a week before it. Relieved when departure day finally arrived. 1300 miles of driving was grueling, but much like last year the travel days and all the stops along the routes were more memorable than being there so I'm glad I wasn't flying or taking a train.

I was a bit awkward with the friend I was visiting, but we both have social anxiety so it was expected. Her husband never really tried to engage me in conversation, which while perhaps rude was certainly a relief. And I got along great with one of the three pets, while one of the others was scared and the other was too aggressively friendly. There was a bit of social awkwardness dealing with Oregon gas stations, but fortunately my friend coached me on what to say.

Anyway, I packed a year's travel and stress into 4 days and now I'm happy to be home doing nothing forever. But there is a bit of a letdown feeling too, as comes after anything good -- my brain demands more, even though it knows it can't handle it.