New Year’s Eve

New Year’s Eve:

  • 1979-1980: I get drunk for the first time. I also get caught by my parents getting drunk for the first time.
  • 1981-1982: Someone hits my car just as I’m getting started on what turns out to be the last heterosexual date I will ever subject myself (or anyone else) to.
  • 1984-1985: I spend the night with a boy I have a major and obsessive crush on. Nothing happens. Sigh.
  • 1994-1995: I’ve just broken up with someone. I go to a quasi-legal party at a warehouse down the street in San Francisco. It gets raided.
  • 1999-2000: Millenium party with accordion accompaniment.
  • 2008-2009: On a very cold night, the ex and I find ourselves on the wrong side of downtown Pittsburgh for the fireworks.
  • 2010-2011: Most depressing New Year’s Eve ever. Enough said.
  • 2012-2023: Done with this shit.

Other than 1974-1975, when I was ten years old and at Disney World, I’m hard pressed to think of a single New Year’s Eve that was memorable for actually being enjoyable. Maybe that’s why I pretty much just say “fuck it” at this point. I never liked New Year’s Eve. It’s nice no longer having to pretend to. I was even sort of faking it in the photo above from 35 years ago…and who the hell are those people?

For the record, this year I invited a Spectrum tech over for an early date at 4PM. His repair didn’t “take” and now I get to see another Spectrum tech at 9AM on New Year’s Day. Good thing I won’t have a hangover.

I do have collards, Hoppin’ John, and pork things for tomorrow. Nothing changes New Year’s Day (to coin a phrase).

Socially mediated

I’m an introvert. Hardcore. I play the game well and a lot my coworkers in particular might not even recognize it, but I’m not especially “social” and I generally am quite happy with my own company most of the time. This has a lot to do with my being an only child and probably has even more to do with the fact that I had very few friends in general until I got to college and have always felt very socially awkward. I never really absorbed that whole social interaction thing correctly, though I have gotten really good at “faking it” particularly though my long past working in retail and my current career, which involves a lot of collaboration, interaction, and public speaking.

I’ve been communicating online (often as my primary medium) for more than twenty-five years. In the late 1990s, back when this site was really popular, I carried on regular email correspondence with many, many people in many, many places. Seriously, there were few places in the U.S. I could go where I didn’t know someone within on or two area codes. Even then, though, it was all asynchronous. I was not hanging out in AOL chatrooms or message boards or IRC (except maybe to download pirated software or porn on the latter). It was all sort of “old school”: email using complete sentences, etc.

Things changed a bit when I got partnered. Frankly, I neglected a lot of friendships because I really only had so much “social” in me and I felt like I should probably be giving most of that to my partner. That’s not an unusual or bad choice but in retrospect, I do have some regrets about it. Between neglect and the fact that the website because less and less of a medium because people weren’t really interacting that way so much anymore, I found that I had a much smaller social circle ten years later when I found myself single again.

I tiptoed into social media while in grad school and eventually got pretty active on Facebook as a way of keeping up with friends, which was nice for quite a while. I also did Twitter, but that was always more about using it as a reading list and a place to promote content on the other site. I generally avoided much engagement in general on Twitter and didn’t really join in on arguments and heated discussions very often on any platform.

Mid-pandemic, in the summer of 2020, I suddenly swore off Facebook. There was some specific interaction that pushed me in that direction (oddly enough, I don’t remember exactly what it was) but it was something I had been thinking about for a long time. I just wasn’t enjoying it anymore; it started feeling like work. I liked the aspect of keeping up with friends, but so many of my friends were no longer posting anything personal to begin with. It was all either politics or memes about how awful everything was. And I already knew how awful everything was. I didn’t need to spend time doom scrolling my friends’ posts to realize that. About the same time, I swore off news sites for a good while too, and was basically only watching The National on CBC every night because it was less awful. I tried to unfollow or mute the friends who were the worst “offenders” but after a while I just hated logging on, so I stopped. And I sort of regret that too because I lost touch with a lot of people I really like. But I couldn’t do it anymore.

I stuck with Twitter, oddly enough, just because I could tailor it to my needs and curate what I read. And it was great for a few years. But then, as the Muskrat took over, that functionality went away, and with it went most of the small group of people I interacted with there. Twitter basically just blew up one day and was never quite the same. I stuck around for a year, not posting as much and not spending as much time there. There were still things I followed regularly (most of them related to history, architecture, and urbanism) but increasingly people who used to post interesting material were abandoning ship as Twitter became more and more of a sewer.

I should have joined the exodus last year. I didn’t. I’m doing it now. And I’m not sure which platform comes next, if any. I have an account on Mastodon, but I mainly repost things from Twitter and Flicker there to an audience that’s a fraction of what I had on Twitter and I don’t otherwise engage. Threads does not impress me and Instagram never did, so a return the Land of Meta is not in the horizon. I do Flickr sometimes, but that was always more about sharing photos (and hosting them for the site) than about socializing. And BlueSky? Who knows? Maybe I’ll just start getting better about adding content here again and conversing by email. Probably not.

The social aspect is hard. I’ve sworn off most social media, I hate talking on the phone, and no one corresponds by email anymore except for work. What’s left?

All of this is not to suggest that I don’t have friends whose company I enjoy and with whom I still interact regularly (in person, even). But I’m increasingly worried that my isolation may be growing, particularly since many of my closest friends live nowhere near me. I think this is a pretty common worry for us introverts and other “non-joiners” for whom online communication worked well until it didn’t.

 

They left the light on for me

Because it’s just what you were dying to see as I plan my October road trip, here’s a map of every city and town in the US and Canada where I’ve spent at least a night (assuming I remember). Click/tap the link or the map to see the details.

Map

Yeah, that’s all I’ve got today…

 

When I was seventeen

 

When I was seventeen
It was a very good year
It was a very good year for tearoom sex at Four Seasons Mall
Hands under the stall
Sometimes faces unseen
When I was seventeen

When I was twenty-one
It was a very good year
It was a very good year for new wave boys with big trendy hair
We’d make a lovely pair
Till the weekend was done
When I was twenty-one

When I was thirty-five
It was a very good year
It was a very good year for backroom sex on Folsom Street
There was often a treat
Though the bar was a dive
When I was thirty-five

In observance of the day, I’ll be skipping the final verse about how old I am, thank you.

Sincere apologies to the Kingston Trio, Frank Sinatra, and Homer Simpson

 

 

R.I.P.

I found out about two weeks ago that one of my oldest friends (and my backyard neighbor as a child) was killed in a car wreck recently. We were pretty good friends through high school, which was a bonus for me because I didn’t have many. We worked together at McDonald’s (hold your tongue) and I had both my first beer and my first cigarette with him. We had not stayed close over the years but I would run into him once in a while since his mother still lived across the yard from my parents. He had sort of a rough childhood, with an abusive, alcoholic father and a very sweet mother who always seemed a little “off.”

As it happens, I also introduced him to his first wife. She was a high school friend and they married probably right as he graduated from college. They were among the first few people I ever came out to. I was in their wedding. I also sort of new it was not going to last, and I was right. I liked both of them, but they were not a match made in heaven. I think they split up after a few years; I was living somewhere else at the time and we’d sort of lost touch. He remarried twice after that and had three daughters.

Anyway, I was looking online to see if there would be a memorial service and I was also wondering if anyone had told his first wife. When I looked her up, I found that she had also died about four years ago (cancer, I think).

So that made for kind of a depressing day. A lot of my good friends have died young, and most of them not from the causes you might expect.

Sigh…