Tuesday, December 27, 2016

If It Makes You Happy...

Since joining Facebook just over a decade ago, I have been bombarded with relationship news.  I've heard about the dates, engagements, marriages, breakups, divorces, etc., of various people, both longtime friends and people--usually from high school--who I knew of, but didn't really know.  For a while, there was a lot of gushing, because many of my coeval friends were in the dating phase; now that most of them are married, and right many of them have kids, their focus has shifted.  Still, back then, the gushing got to me, and it wasn't because of jealousy; in fact, it still kind of does, and for two reasons: First off, it's because it tended to be repetitive, which would make it annoying; if I'm annoying because I always talk about the Disney Channel, or my computer game is annoying because it keeps making the same sound over and over again...isn't someone constantly posting essentially the same thing time and time again just as annoying? Second off, because it's spam.  Before Facebook, I was an active member on a forum for fans of the Christian band dc Talk, and the moderators were tough on spam, which was pretty much defined as posting without saying anything interesting; essentially, a waste of bandwidth.  Well, imagine my surprise when Facebook is rife with such posts, and there's no moderator to report them to.

One thing that I was accused of back then was trying to take away people's happiness...which was definitely not my intent.  If you're in a relationship, I hope it continues to make you happy; though I'm a lifelong single myself, I've seen the pain that breakups, divorces, and widowhood have brought to friends and family...and I wouldn't wish that on anyone.  However, you have to realize something: Throughout my life--well before Facebook!--entertainment was my favorite topic of conversation.  It took different forms--celebrity crushes, television shows, jokes, video games, movies, calendars, etc.--but, many times, it was all I could talk about.  That's held true in the past decade, both on Facebook and off; everyone who knows me knows about my penchant for the Disney Channel and old-school television, even if they know nothing else about me.  However, people have unfriended me for gushing about my favorite stars, shows, or whatever else.  They've called it "disturbing," and refused to explain why after being asked; they've lamented about how a star got "more respect than" them; and, in most cases, they've just disappeared without any rhyme or reason, leaving me to speculate what happened.  I talk about my entertainment for the same reason you talk about your significant others and your kids: It makes me happy.  I don't want to take away your happiness, and I would hope you wouldn't want to take away mine.

That said, not everything I've ever talked about has made me happy.  You probably know that I've had problems with numerous people--way too many to list--over the years.  The problems became even worse when I tried to lament about them, because the individuals I had issues with were often well-liked by those that knew them, sometimes almost unanimously so.  Whatever good they did to others, that doesn't excuse the way they treated me; seriously, we're talking about people who did the unthinkable: seeing fit to punish me for saying, "Na nu, na nu," to someone else; videotaping me being harassed, and lying about it; publicly mortifying me on Facebook in a comment on a note that wasn't even intended for that individual; or causing a fiasco that lasted weeks because an entire group of people refused to take no for an answer to an "invitation" to an activity they all knew I wasn't interested in.  Worse yet, those individuals refused to apologize for what they did; instead of seeking forgiveness, all I got was excuses, as if they were proud of what they did.  Such injustices make me sick, especially when other people talk of the individuals responsible as if they're the greatest thing since sliced bread, giving them adulations such as, "They're the best friends you've ever had!", "They are your biggest advocates!", or, "You have no idea how accepted you were by them!" That's bullfunky if I've ever heard it...but, nobody else seems to realize that.

When I lament about problems with others, that's exactly what it is: a lament.  It's not a bashing session; I'm not making fun of them; I'm simply wondering why it has to be that way, especially since, in many cases, I never did anything to them to make them act that way.  One such incident that sticks in my mine to this day, even though it happened many years ago, was when some people I knew thought I couldn't hear them, and started complaining about me, saying that I talked about a certain individual "like she's...the devil".  Another person who was part of that conversation said that she "got so mad" when I started doing that.  Well, you know what? Those things I said didn't make me happy either.  Instead of getting mad because I was lamenting about someone they admired, they should have asked themselves: Why is he saying these things? Are these things true? Is this person I admire really "all that and a bag of chips" like everyone seems to think? It's actually kind of funny to me now: Before that conversation that I wasn't supposed to hear, the person who was so infuriated talked about someone--okay, a reality show contestant, but a divinely created individual nonetheless!--in a very ugly way, calling her "Jersey Trash" because she was from New Jersey, as well as "Giggle Ender" because she had a tendency to end everything she said with a giggle.  So, you're going to bash someone you've never even met because of where she is from, which she can't help, and because of a nervous habit, which she presumably can't help...yet, you're going to get all out of joint because I say from personal experience that someone isn't who everyone says she is.  Even worse, another person who was part of the discussion was also from New Jersey! Unfortunately, that's the kind of double standard I've been facing my whole life...which is why it has always been tough to make and keep friends.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

"And Good Night to the Pail!"

Before I start, let me say this: If you do not consider yourself a Christian, please do not read any further.  Thank you.

When I was a senior in high school, I attended a vocational class on computer networking.  Though I had been looking forward to it for quite a while, it was rough at first because of a jerk classmate.  This guy was a devout agnostic, and was an even sorrier individual than the professor Kevin Sorbo played in God's Not Dead.  Years later, I made friends with another agnostic--ironically, through a random meeting at church--who was nothing like that classmate; when I told her of his actions, she said, "Well, that's immature." What made it even worse was that said classmate was one of only two people I ever knew to be engaged while in high school; even my friends and former friends who dated in high school didn't get engaged until well after graduating, sometimes dating other people before reuniting.  The guy in question moved early in the year, and I was not sad to see him go.  I don't know what happened with him and his significant other; my hope is that he learned the error of his ways, but, I'll probably never know.

That unfortunate encounter is all the more alarming eleven years later.  Why the biggest jerk I've ever known can be engaged while still a teenager, while I'm twenty-eight and have been on exactly zero dates, completely boggles my mind.  Upon thinking of that incident while being bombarded with other engagement news--including that of a significantly younger former fellow church member--this holiday season, it almost makes me feel like a video game player who is stuck on one level, or a computer user who can't get his/her Mac to do what he/she wants it to do: I'm asking myself, "What am I not doing? What do I need to do?" I've already done everything everyone suggested: I improved my hygiene; I got a job; I gave up the celebrity crushes; I stopped lamenting about the failed attempts at starting a relationship...and, for what? The only times my relationship status has changed has been on April Fool's Day!

Lately, I've been thinking about it a lot, and I think I've come up with two very big reasons that prevent me from getting a date...and they aren't likely to ever change.  First off: I have too many friends of the fairer sex to focus on just one.  For some reason, women love me.  Okay, not all women do--I currently know some who despise me, though, in some cases, the reasons are unclear--but, for a long time, I've been adored by many a female friend.  My high school Spanish teacher was one of them; she reportedly talked about me constantly to her other classes, even gushing about my love for the Disney Channel.  She wasn't the only one, though; other female friends--of all ages, I should add--have taken a liking to me, and many of them still feel that way.  The problem? Having that many opposite gender friends makes it impossible to "tie myself down".  Okay, I hate that term, but, I don't know how else to say it; seriously, having a girlfriend would be a threat to most of my friendships, because I can just imagine my significant other getting jealous when I start talking to all of my friends at church.  Maybe, after a while, there might be some trust there...but, that takes time.

Second off, and this one is even bigger: My "loves" are too important to me for me to focus on a relationship.  Some time ago, a divorced Facebook friend lamented about her broken marriage via a meme, saying that her ex pushed her aside in favor of other things, such as the military.  That goes to show that it doesn't necessarily have to be an affair that ends a marriage; it could be anyone or anything.  I'm reminded of the Christmas episode of Home Improvement where Ilene is all upset because Al--her significant other--is putting his mother ahead of her.  When Al asks Tim about it, Tim gives him some very blunt advice: "You want to get married, have kids one day, right? [...] I don't see that happening with your mother!" In typical sitcom fashion, Al learns the error of his ways by the time the credits roll.  Even if it's not another person, having something be a bigger priority than your relationship is a one-way ticket to splitsville.

Years ago, I gained an aunt when a lady married my uncle; my mom's only brother.  The two of them passed away a long time ago...but, they almost didn't get married! My uncle--who was that odd uncle everyone has--was too enamored with his canine companions to think about saying, "I do"; even when they did get married, they didn't live in the same house (no joke), and she was constantly complaining about him.  She once joked about "growing an extra set of legs and a tail" in order for him to love her.  I've never been one to go to the dogs, but, sometimes, that's what I think my female friends are thinking when it comes to my entertainment: "The only way he would ever go out with me is if I got my own show on the Disney Channel, or took down a bad guy with super strength and heat vision like Supergirl, or suddenly transformed into Mindy McConnell, Lizzie McGuire, or one of those Australian mermaids." Since none of those are likely to happen to any of my friends--especially the latter ones!--it seems that they'll never be able to get my attention; at least, not the way they want.

The truth--as much as it pains me to admit it--is this: Entertainment is where my heart has always lied.  I was never one to really get that into things, unless they had to do with entertainment.  That's why I work at a library: I shelve, arrange, and organize books, CDs, audiobooks, DVDs, magazines, etc.,...aka entertainment.  When I was younger, my family members tried to get me into other things--swimming lessons, Boy Scouting, AVID, a local program called Chrome, etc.--and I just wasn't interested...because they had nothing to do with entertainment.  During my last two years of high school, my classmates--and others--were practically begging me to go to ring dance--aka junior prom--and senior prom, and I didn't go...because I just wasn't interested; I would much rather have stayed home and watched television.  You probably think, "That's crazy! How could you miss both of your proms? You're going to regret that one day!" Well, it's been over a decade, and I still don't; that wasn't a priority back then, and still isn't today.  Seeing references to school dances does not bother me one bit; I know the ones at my schools would have been much bawdier than the one in Good Luck Charlie.

At times, entertainment being my priority has caused problems.  You may remember the oft-quoted lament from a former friend after our "falling out": "That's just great! Some actress you're never going to meet gets more respect than a real-life friend! Yes, I'm being sarcastic!" If she had realized my true intent with what I said--that my statement was intended to make her laugh, and I never wanted her or anyone else to actually do what I said--she would have realized that I meant no disrespect.  Still, I think others have unfriended me because of my shameless devotion to entertainment; they know what's going on with Siobhan Magnus, but they have no idea what's going on with me.  I can't stop people from unfriending me, and I have to be true to myself...and that means being an entertainment lover.  Practically all of my previous obsessions and even all of my interests in general fall into that category: computer games, video games, book series, comic strips, celebrities, and, especially, television shows! Seriously: Who else do you know who learned his/her letters from Wheel of Fortune?

Now, for my conclusion: For this coming year, my resolution--well, one of them, anyway--is to not worry about my relationship status anymore.  I'll use the Italian adage: E buona notte al secchio! Literally translated, it means, "And good night to the pail!" Figuratively, it means, "That's that; there's nothing more I can do!" Seriously, I've done everything in my power to change my relationship status, and nothing has worked; I'm simply going to let go and let God.  If it happens, great; who knows? It may happen in 2017! It may never happen, though, but I have plenty to love in my life--my family, my friends, and my hobbies--without a significant other.