An Ace At Work

[This post was written for the September 2015 Carnival of Aces topic of “Living Asexuality”.]

When I’m not working on an asexuality related website or gazing at my collection of vintage stereoview cards, I have what’s known as a “job”.  The specific nature of the job would either bore you to tears or make no sense at all (probably both), so I’ll just say that it’s in tech and the workplace is male-dominated.  When I go to work, I don’t stop being asexual.  Sometimes that makes me feel like I’m leading a weird double life:

  • Nights and weekends:  Totally open asexual activist, spreading the word about asexuality to anyone who’ll listen and a bunch of people who won’t.
  • Weekdays: Half closeted engineer, quiet in my cubicle.

As I’ve talked about before, sometimes I feel like an invisible visibility activist.  It’s not so much that I’m hiding that I’m asexual, I just don’t talk about it because it seems so irrelevant under the circumstances.  But then, when I really think about it, pretty much everyone else is broadcasting their sexuality in a number of ways.  So why should I keep mine hidden?

Now, I don’t deny what I am.  I’ll sometimes wear the ring, and when Asexual Awareness Week rolls around, I’m decked out in the ace colors.  But no one knows what any of that means.  I’ve gradually built a passive ace pride display in my cubicle, but as far as I know, no one’s actually noticed it.  It started with a black ring, then I added a small flag, and finally, I added a WhatIsAsexuality.com/Asexuality Archive promotional magnet.

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Anyway, what I’m really here to talk about is all the ways that being asexual is relevant to my day at the office and interacting with co-workers.

The Waitress At Lunch

“Would you look at that?”

“I bet you left a nice tip!”

“Let’s go to Joey’s for lunch.  There are one or two reasons I like that place!”

“You left your credit card there on purpose, just so you could go back and see that waitress again, didn’t you?”

As I mentioned, I work in a male-dominated industry.  As a result, I hear things like this regularly.  Those are all actual comments I have heard coworkers say to each other, discussing the “hot” waitresses at local dining establishments.

It’s not always a waitress, sometimes it’s a coworker, sometimes it’s a random woman on the street, sometimes it’s an athlete or celebrity, but whoever it is, the remarks are similar, and the effect they have on me is the same.  While conversations like these can be roundly condemned as sexist, boorish, and inappropriate, that’s not why I’m bringing them up.

I mention them because they make me acutely aware that I’m asexual.  That I’m different.  They’re said around me because “I’m one of the guys”, but in this area, I’m not.  Not at all.  I can’t relate to what they’re talking about, even though they think they’re making a universally recognizable statement.  While everyone else actively enjoys going to Joey’s (which is basically an upscale, swanky Hooters), that restaurant makes me distinctly uncomfortable.  (And the food is pretentious and overpriced, and the sodas are 3/4ths ice, so it’s not even a good restaurant…)

Whenever a conversation like this gets started, I pull back and shut down, because I can’t be a part of it.  And I don’t just mean I go quiet, I mean that I’m fairly certain that I physically pull away from the group.  I don’t know what I do exactly, but I know that the change in body language is striking enough to be noticed by other people.  One person even began to try and change the subject (Despite starting the conversation himself, usually…) by saying something like “Some people might get offended by this kind of talk”.  It was always clear who “some people” was.

But I’m not offended by it.  That’s not why I close down.  It’s more of a “Please don’t call on me” reaction.  I feel like I’m going to be “found out” if I don’t make some kind of crude comment or nod along with the crude comments others at the table make.  I’m expected to react approvingly in some way, but I can’t.  I have nothing to say on the topic.  If I move away and try to make myself as small as possible, maybe I won’t be directly asked to make a comment myself.  Maybe I won’t have to explain what’s going on.

Which brings me to…

The coming out.

I’ve never actually come out at work.  I’m not entirely sure that I’ve even said the word “asexual” in person to a coworker.

(Now, that’s not to say no one at work knows.  Anyone who is friends with me on Facebook will fairly quickly discover that I’m asexual.)

I guess I don’t really know how to come out at work.  Other people can work it into a conversation or put a picture on their desk or show their partner around the office one day.  I can’t do any of that.  (Although, I do have a web browser “missing image” icon in a frame on my desk, but that’s as much of a nerdy joke as it is a reflection of my life.)  I can’t think of a way to casually work it into a conversation.

“So, what did you do this weekend?”

“I worked on my website about asexuality and went to an ace meetup.”

The response to that would probably be a blank stare and a muttered “…what?”

It would either kill the conversation outright or I’d have to recite the entire Encyclopedia Asexualica for them to understand.  It couldn’t be a quick, casual, matter of fact thing.  By then, all the effort would make it feel like I’m recruiting or proselytizing or something, instead of simply stating basic facts about who I am.

Beyond that, there’s the question of whether I’d even want people knowing…

None of Your Business

When you come out to friends or family, it’s often because you want them to know.  You want them to understand you, you want them to share in your life.  And if they react negatively, although it may be painful and difficult, it’s generally possible to cut them out of your life if necessary.

Work is different.  For eight hours a day, you’re stuck in a confined environment with people you didn’t choose to be around.  Some of them are your friends.  Some of them you don’t really know.  Some of them are your enemies.

I live in a very liberal city and work in an industry that’s full of liberals or libertarians.  Even the small handful of “I voted for Bush twice and I’d still be voting for Reagan if it were legal and he weren’t dead” Republicans at the office are generally totally down with the whole rainbow.  I do not feel like I have to hide who I am in any way, whether it’s for my safety or to keep my job or any of that.

That said, there are people I don’t want to know about me:

The President?  The CTO?  Senior Director of Marketing?  Those people simply do not need to know.  Why should they know?  They know nothing at all about me other than maybe my name.  I don’t need the one piece of personal information they have about me to be this.  I’d much rather they know that I like going on vacation and taking pictures.  I don’t feel I need to keep it from them or anything, I just don’t see the point in them knowing.

But there is one person I want to keep it from:  That Guy™.  You know That Guy™.  Narcissistic, arrogant prick who’s all talk and no substance, has a Masters Degree in Brownnosing and no real talent to speak of.  His career arc at the company is not driven by how good a job he’s doing, but how well he talks up the half-assed job he’s doing to managers who aren’t really paying attention.  He’s the sort of person you avoid interacting with as much as possible until he quits or gets fired.

That Guy™ is transparently manipulative.  You know that every conversation you have with him is just a way for him to find something he can exploit and use against you.

You are forced into silence out of fear.  Telling That Guy™ that you’re asexual is like dousing yourself in honey and rolling around on an ant hill.

He will scoff.  He will mock you.  He will gaslight you.  He will spread rumors about you.  He will deny it exists.  He will ask invasive questions.  He will call you broken.  He is the living embodiment of the comments section of an article about asexuality.  He will do all of these things just carefully enough that you can’t file a complaint with HR.

And you have to sit next to him for eight hours a day.

The Flirting Coworker

Occasionally, a coworker will develop an interest that goes beyond the professional.  They’ll begin probing and testing, trying to figure out if you’re interested, too.

My initial reaction to flirting is to ignore it.  This isn’t a conscious strategy to shut it down before it goes too far.  I’m actually terrible at detecting it, so I ignore it because I don’t even know it’s happening.

If it persists, I’ll eventually catch on that I’m being treated differently somehow.  Maybe they stand a different way.  Maybe they go out of their way to stop by my cubicle to talk to me about things that aren’t work-related.  There was even one woman who seemed to make it a point to lean over her desk whenever I was around.  (And it took me several weeks to even notice that.)

When it gets to this stage, I start to panic.  If the flirting is overt enough that I’ve started to see it for what it is, then the situation is serious.  I start to try to figure out how to say “Well, you’re nice and all, but I just can’t like you in that way…”  Do I say I’m not interested?  Do I say I don’t work like that?  Do I say that it’s not my area?  Do I just say nothing and run away?  What do I do?

So far, it’s only gone to the next stage once, where interest is explicitly stated and a request is made to change the relationship status from “Friendly Coworker” to “Potential Romantic Partner, Pending Outcome Of Probationary Period”.  (I think everyone else senses I’m a lost cause and gave up well before it got to that point.)  I had been practicing how to explain asexuality to this person for a week or so when it happened, but as it turned out, that was not necessary, because they came out to me as ace themselves!

That, of course, turned the rest of my script on its head…  I was expecting my asexuality to be the deal breaker, but when that turned out to be a known and desired quality, I had absolutely no idea what to do.  In the end, we talked for hours in a hallway and didn’t get much work done that day.  I went home and thought about it, and realized that it just wouldn’t work out, because I could not be who they wanted me to be.  We had a few awkward days in the office after that, but after those settled, we remained good friends.

The “Family” Conversation

People at work like discussing families.

“Do you have kids?”

No.

“Are you married?”

No.

“Are you seeing anyone?”

No.

By the time the conversation gets to this point, it’s not going to end up anywhere good.  They usually stop there, but I know it continues in their head.  “Well, why not?  I wonder if there’s something wrong.  Did he just come off a bad relationship?  Is he secretly gay?  Maybe I can fix him up with someone.  But who…?”  I can see that I’m a conundrum to them.

The conversation isn’t always about my status.  Sometimes they’ll vent about their wives as if I can relate.  As if I care.

I’ve taken to saying things like “I have a room full of video games and no one to tell me ‘no’.” as a way to lightheartedly deflect the conversation from the questions I know they really want to ask.  Sometimes I’ll even show pictures of the room full of video games.

I know that I’m looked at as odd for not having a family and for not looking to acquire one, but I know I’d be looked at as even more odd if I tried to explain why.


Before I started writing this, I barely gave any thought to just how much being asexual comes up in my work life.  I figured it was rare, that there were only a handful of times where it was an issue.  Now I realize that it has an impact, sometimes small and subtle, sometimes big and notable, but it has an impact pretty much every day.  And so many of these things are only an issue because I can’t just say “I’m asexual” and have people understand and accept what that means.

Now maybe I need to start thinking more seriously about the impact singlism has on my life at work…

Social Anxiety and Asexuality

[This post was written for the September 2015 Carnival of Aces topic of “Living Asexuality”.]

I am not good with people.

Let me rephrase that:

I am absolutely terrible with people.

I can’t approach most people to start a conversation. I can’t carry on a conversation that someone else starts unless it has a purpose or is on a small number of topics I’m comfortable with.

I avoid social events, parties, that sort of thing.

If you send me an email, I have to prepare myself before I can even open it, let alone respond.

Telephones fill me with mortal dread.

I got a perfect score on the “Introvert” portion of the MTBI.

If you need to find me in a crowd, I’m either hiding behind a camera, or I’m the one sitting in the corner, staying out of the way.

I’ve lived in my house for five years. In that time, I’ve only had five people in my house that I’m not related to. Three of them were the movers. One of them was the cable guy.

 

I am not good with people.

I am also asexual.

Those two facts are entirely unrelated.

 

I am not asexual because of whatever social anxiety I may have, and I don’t have whatever brand of social anxiety this is because I’m asexual.

Right about now, there’s probably someone screaming “But how can you know you’re asexual, if you’ve never bothered trying? Maybe the anxiety is holding you back!”

Well, no. No, it’s not.

If that were the case, the attraction would be there and would be fighting the anxiety. There’s never been a situation where I’ve thought, “I’d like to get with that girl, but I’m too afraid to talk to her.” I’ve have heard that sexual attraction is rather compelling. I have heard that it is often strong enough to help overcome social anxiety in some situations. And social anxiety wouldn’t get in the way of fantasies or thinking celebrities are hot or any number of other expressions of sexual attraction that don’t involve social interaction. But none of that happens with me. There’s nothing there. No conflict. No feeling like some part of me is being kept down by another part of me.

Beyond all that, there are people who have pushed themselves into my comfort bubble and expressed interest in me. In those cases, the anxiety part of the equation is canceled out. If attraction were there, it would be free to come of the surface. But it doesn’t. I even had sex with one of these people, and still there was no attraction present.

Don’t let anyone tell you that social anxiety invalidates asexuality.

Now, this brings us to an interesting collision in my life.  You see, I’m asexual and have social anxiety.  I’m also a fairly prominent activist.  I run websites, I wrote a book, all that stuff.  It’s sort of my mission to tell people about asexuality.

Except…  I can’t actually talk to people about it.

I wrote about this to some extent over in the post (in)Visibility Activist, but it goes deeper than what I talked about there.ometimes I get interview requests, but I end up putting them off for so long that it’s not relevant.  I have ideas for collaborative projects, but I have no idea how to bring the collaborators together.  I am unable to make contacts or reach out to people.  People who reach out to me often get silence in return.

I was invited to go to the North American Asexuality Conference earlier this year.  I wanted to go, but everything inside was fighting it.  Instead of finding ways to make it happen, I tried to find every excuse to get out of it.  It costs too much.  I don’t have a passport.  And on and on.  It took the demand of a dying friend to force me to go.  And even so, I had a full-on paralyzing freakout about the whole thing the day before the flight.

But I went.  And it was amazing.

Granted, I spent a good chunk of the time between sessions sitting in the corner, staying out of the way.  I skipped all the post-conference dinners and probably unintentionally offended some people with my inability to interact (If one of those people was you, I’m sorry!).  Even so, it was well worth going.  I learned so much and shared so much.  I even managed to sit on a panel in one of the sessions!  (For all the social anxiety I do have, somehow I managed to avoid stage fright.  Go figure.)

So here’s the thing I need to keep telling myself (and that you might need to hear, too…):  Just like there’s no One Right Way™ to be asexual, there’s no One Right Way™ to be an asexuality activist.  I’m not the hand-shaker.  I’m not the friend-maker.  I’m not the face on TV.  And I don’t have to be. 

After all, someone needs to sit in the corner, stay out of the way, and work on the website…

…And Then What?

[This post was written for the December 2012 Carnival of Aces topic of “Dating and Significant Others as an Ace”.]

It was the first day of the ninth grade.  A new girl was in a bunch of my classes.  She had a funny name and long red hair.  Over that year, I found that she was smart, quirky, and had a dangerously sarcastic personality that matched my own.  She could play the piano and the cello.  She was going to grow up to become a doctor who would save the world.

People said we’d be perfect for each other.

I remember deliberating over all the options before deciding that she should be the one I’d have a crush on.  I guess I thought that’s how it worked.  Come up with a list of candidates, weigh their strengths and drawbacks, narrow down the list, then pick one.  Presto!  Instant romance!  Now, I don’t think other people tend to consciously choose potential romantic partners with the mental equivalent of a feature comparison chart.  (I suppose it’s a good thing they don’t, given that the runner up using this method turned out to be a drunken rodeo queen the next year.  Clearly, if you do use a mental feature comparison chart, make sure it’s comparing the proper specifications.  If you’re not looking at the right criteria, it can lead to some poor decisions…)  But, at the time, that’s how it seemed like it was done, so that’s what I did.

Anyway, I think I obsessed over her for months.  And by “obsess”, I mean that I would think about her name over and over and over.  Sometimes at night, I would attempt to telepathically communicate with her.  (To my knowledge, it never worked.)  As I was trying to send brainwaves in her direction, I would occasionally imagine her sleeping…  While wearing a full-length thick cotton nightgown with frills.  Once, on a family trip to the Bay Area, I spent the whole weekend with “I Love Saturday” from Erasure’s I Say, I Say, I Say album stuck in my head because, for some reason, I had associated the synthpop hook with her.

I never asked her out.

I was supposed to ask her out, right?  I mean, I was a boy, she was a girl.  I liked her, there was a significant probability that she held a positive opinion of me.  On top of that, we were in the same math class.  Obviously, we were made for one another.  So, clearly, I should ask her to be my girlfriend.

…and then what?

That’s where I got stuck.  I wasn’t afraid of being rejected.  I was afraid of being successful.  If she said yes, what on earth would we do together?  I just couldn’t figure that part out.

I couldn’t really take her on a date, because I had no money, I hate restaurants, and the nearest movie theater was about 20 miles away.  I couldn’t take her to the monthly school dance, since that would have been a traumatic social experience for me.  (Plus, my long arms and awkward steps are not allowed to attempt to engage in uncontrolled rhythmic motion, especially around other people.)  She lived ten miles away, so just hanging out and doing homework was out of the question, too.  And I wouldn’t buy her flowers or trinkets, because the entire concept of that sort of thing seemed silly to me.  I didn’t really see the appeal of the idea of dating anyway.

So why should I ask her out?  What would be the point?

I analyzed and theorized, worked through the options, and tried to come up with something that would work.  At one point, I think I even launched a misguided attempt to get her to be my girlfriend in title only, without any of the attached social responsibilities.  (That was less than successful.)  I don’t think I realized that I didn’t need to have a 23-step six-month plan for going steady.  Just talking to her at lunch and calling once in a while would’ve been enough to fulfill the boyfriend requirements.  (Of course, I’m terrified of the phone.  So that’s out, too.)  I guess I looked at going out as literally going out: That you and your partner had to regularly go out and do something, such as seeing a movie or going bowling or something.

Through all of that, no sex of any kind was ever in the imaginary picture.    I never even fantasized about her.  It’s not that I actively resisted those kinds of thoughts.  It just wasn’t something that I even considered.  I mean, look, even when I imagined her sleeping, I pictured her in what had to be least erotic sleepwear ever to enter a 15 year old boy’s imagination.  I think the furthest I got in my mind was maybe a brief hug and a kiss.  On the cheek.

(Well, okay, there was a vague sense that there would probably be sex in the far future, like maybe after the 527th step in the extended plan, which was something like “Get married at age 23″… But it only turned up there because people who date eventually get married, and people who get married have sex, not because of an actual longing for sex.)

Now, I was 14 or 15.  I was supposed to be clueless and awkward about dating.  I was supposed to make painfully embarrassing mistakes on the road to figuring it all out.  But…  I just wasn’t interested in figuring it out.  The idea of romance and coupledom held no real appeal.  I think I just wanted to be a closer friend, but societal pressure and gender expectations ended up twisting around my head.  It was like I was not permitted to have any female friends (Unless they lived on my street), so she had to be my girlfriend or nothing at all.

I figured that I’d eventually get “activated” and decide that I wanted to give the relationship world a spin, but that never happened.  I went all the way through high school and college without going on a single date, and that never really bugged me.  There were a few people I found vaguely interesting, but not interesting enough to do anything about.  I think a couple of people flirted with me, but that was completely wasted on me.

I’ve only had one girlfriend.  When I was 21, a woman from a forum I was involved in began expressing an interest in me.  I did not express interest back.  She left her boyfriend for me.  Still not interested.  She attempted to give me a topless webcam show.  I didn’t catch on and told her to put on a different shirt if she hated the one she was wearing so much.  She came to visit for the day.  I had an escape plan.  During the visit, she pounced on me and began caressing and kissing me.  I didn’t react.

You might say she was persistent…

Eventually, after months of begging and declaring her love and pleading and getting angry that I didn’t feel the same way and wishing that I would change, I came around and declared that she was my girlfriend. It was an LDR, so our relationship was mostly conducted online.  It really didn’t change much when we became a couple.  We still spent all day and half the night talking, just as we’d done before.  About once a month, though, we’d have a visit.

These visits were essentially dates.  We’d go to restaurants I didn’t like and felt obligated to see a movie together, even if there wasn’t anything particularly that great playing.  And occasionally, things would turn physical.

I had absolutely no idea what I was doing.  I had no internal “This is nice” barometer to guide me.  Obviously, when she touched me, there were some things that were physically pleasant, but overall emotionally, I was indifferent.  And when I touched her…  Nothing.

I didn’t feel anything when I put my arm around her.

I didn’t feel anything when we held hands.

I didn’t feel anything when I kissed her.

I didn’t feel anything when she had me touch her breasts.

I didn’t feel anything when I reached into her pants.

I didn’t feel anything when we slept together.

Wait…  I did feel something.  I felt like I was acting.  Like I was supposed to be following a script, but I hadn’t learned my lines.  The physical connection felt alien and forced.  I didn’t know how to respond.  There was a hollowness there.  Emptiness.  I was just going through the motions.  None of it felt natural.  Everyone else talked about how amazing all these things were, but for me, there was nothing.

And I lived in fear of being found out.

I did love her.  I think.  Maybe I’d just convinced myself that I did because I should.  Maybe I just convinced myself that I did because I wanted to be in love.  Maybe I didn’t understand the concept of love.

I didn’t cry when she broke up with me.  I didn’t beg her to reconsider.  I was relieved.  I had been feeling that I wasn’t in it for a while, but I just couldn’t bring myself to dump her after all she went through in the first place.  And it’s not like I had a clear reason I could point to.  There wasn’t anyone else, no horrible event that turned me away.  There was just that sense that something was missing, there was that hollowness that never went away.

That was ten years ago.  I haven’t been on a date or in a relationship since.  (Came close once, but didn’t quite get there.)  I don’t know that I’d actually like being in a relationship.  I certainly don’t need one.  When I think about having a girlfriend, I think about it in practical terms.  If I had a girlfriend, she could drive when we go on vacation.  If I had a girlfriend, she could help me load Ikea flat pack furniture boxes into my car.  If I had a girlfriend, she could do something about that weeds in the back yard.  If I had a girlfriend, she could make phone calls for me.  If I had a girlfriend, she’d get me to the hospital if I fell down the stairs.  But never anything about companionship or love.

So…  I don’t know.  Am I aromantic?  Am I just bad at being heteroromantic?  Is this all just extreme shyness and social awkwardness preventing me from being able to have a relationship?  Do I need to fling myself out of my comfort zone and experiment more, or would that just lead to disaster?  Is it asexuality coming into the picture and saying “Why Bother?”.

 

(By the way, in case you were wondering, no, that first girl didn’t grow up to become a doctor and save the world.  Instead, she’s making awful indie comedy movies with her director husband.  Had I known at the time, I might have been able to set in motion a chain of events that would have prevented those movies from being made, but I did nothing…  Or because I did nothing, did I, myself, set in motion the very chain of events that led to them being made?  Either way, I must live with the guilt…)

Living Alone

Although this is for the Carnival of Aces theme about age and asexuality, it’s not really about age or asexuality.  At least not directly.  Instead, it’s about something that comes up over and over when younger aces talk about growing up:  The fear of living alone.

I’m in my thirties.  I live alone.  I’ve lived alone for almost nine years now and let me tell you a secret:  It’s not scary.  Know why?  Because it’s awesome, that’s why.

Know what’s in my closet?  My clothes. Know who gets the blankets at night?  Me. Know what’s on TV?  Whatever I want to watch. Know who uses all the hot water in the shower in the morning?  I do. Know who gets to use the car tomorrow?  No one, because it’s Sunday and I don’t feel like going anywhere.

I live alone in a four bedroom house.  Know what’s in one of the bedrooms in this house?  It’s not a guest bedroom that has to be maintained for the in-laws.  It’s not a playroom for a rabble of rugrats.  It’s full of video games.  Nothing but video games.  I have video games from systems you’ve never heard of.  Do you know why?  Because it’s my house and I want a room full of video games.

I didn’t have to get permission when I decided to staple a hundred plastic plates to my wall to make a gigantic Tetris hallway.  I didn’t have to convince anyone when I decided to replace some lightswitches or put up some shelves.  I didn’t have to form a selection committee when I decided to put waterfall pictures on my stairs.  I don’t have to ask for forgiveness when I take over the dining room table for an art and/or science project that has no rational explanation.

(And speaking of the dining room table:  It’s cheap.  It’s actually a folding table.  But no one complains about it, because there’s no one here to complain.)

It’s wonderful that there’s no one here to stop me.  If I want to buy a copy of The Trouble With Tribbles on CED VideoDisc, even though I don’t have a VideoDisc player and no one even has any idea what a VideoDisc is, no one will tell me no.  If I think that it’s a good idea to try to build an air conditioner to draw up cool air from my crawlspace using a fan, a cardboard sheet, some ventilation tubing, and a whole lotta duct tape, no one will tell me no.  If I want Froot Loops for lunch, no one will tell me no.  If I want to lock myself away for five days while I build a fully autonomous real world implementation of “Robot Finds Kitten”, no one will tell me no. If I want to put pink flamingos, a garden gnome, and a random survey benchmark in my backyard, no one will tell me no.  If I want to replace the bulbs in the bathroom fixture with red, green, and blue bulbs so that I get white light, but awesome colored shadows, no one will tell me no. If I want to hang out in my PJs until 1 PM, then go naked for the rest of the day, no one will tell me no.  (But I don’t want to do that, because I’d probably just get cold.)

You know what I had for dinner last night?  Pepperoni pizza.  Know what I’ll have for dinner tonight?  Pepperoni pizza.  Know what I’ll have for dinner tomorrow night?  Pepperoni pizza.  Know why?  I like pepperoni pizza.  There’s no negotiating about menu variety or freezer space, and there’s no demands that I go to an overpriced restaurant that I hate.

And it’s not just inside the house where being single comes in handy.  I like to go on vacation.  So far, I’ve been to two decommissioned nuclear reactors and one atomic bomb detonation site.  I’ve seen the world’s largest frying pan, a life-sized statue of Yoda, and the landfill in the desert where Atari buried thousands of copies of the ET game.  I’ve stood on a corner in Winslow, Arizona, I’ve gone where the streets have no name in Joshua Tree, and I’ve climbed underneath the bridge on the muddy banks of the Wishkah.  And I haven’t had to justify any of it.  I go where I want and stay as long as I like.  I don’t complain if I have to have spray cheese and crackers for dinner because I’m camping someplace that’s a hundred miles from a restaurant.  I don’t have to deal with anyone getting hungry or getting bored or getting tired or needing a pit stop ten minutes after I just bought gas.  Know how many outlet malls or art museums or roadside fruit stands I’ve had to stop at?  None.

Of course, it’s not all sunshine and lollipops in this world.

All the chores around the house are mine to do.  I can’t weasel out of doing the dishes or the laundry, and the overgrown jungle of a backyard is silently mocking me for failing to keep it under control.  There’s no one else around who I can get to kill the spiders for me, either.

As much as I like going on vacation, let’s face it, places like the Willamette Valley are much better if you sleep the whole way through them, and it’s really hard to do that if you’re driving. (Although, it would be a lot easier to do if it weren’t for that slight curve near Eugene…)  Also, there was that one cave in California where I decided that it was dangerous to go alone, so I didn’t go inside, even though it’s supposed to have an amazing wall of ice in it.

If I get sick, I can’t lay in bed all day while someone waits on me.

If someone has to call the mortgage company or make reservations or otherwise use that terrifying contraption known as a telephone, it has to be me.

If I go into a store, there’s no one else who can deflect the pushy salespeople.

And if I somehow get trapped in the crawlspace when trying to rig up that air conditioner I was talking about, there’s no one who’ll rescue me and I’ll die down there and no one will ever find my body.

Perhaps the worst part about living alone is that I don’t have anyone to help me load Ikea furniture into my car.  Have you ever tried to fill a Prius with flat pack bookcases all by yourself?  Let me tell you, it ain’t easy.

So basically, I guess what I’m saying is that you shouldn’t be so worried about ending up alone, because being alone is what you make of it.  Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to go mount a giant pixel-art mural of a level from Super Mario Bros. on my wall.

(And no one will tell me no.)