Thursday, April 22, 2010

On Mediocrity

All my dreams involve combing my hair.
-Armand Tamzarian, The Simpsons

I have something of a confession to make, though I doubt it will startle those of you who know me best. I've always known it, in the back of my mind, and for a long time I was ashamed of it. But now, I think it's best just to come right out and say it.

I am really not that cool.

Now, when I say that, understand that I'm not being down on myself! I have plenty of good qualities, and I like myself just fine. I'm a good friend. I'm kind to animals, and I treat kids like individual people. I have a unique (and sometimes obtuse) way of looking at the world. I get along with people from many cultures. I've sat up with people at 3AM and talked them out of suicide, and sometimes I make people laugh so hard they snort chicken up their nose. I can write fairly well, I buy awesome Christmas presents, and as far as I know, I usually don't have bad breath.

So I'm not saying I don't like myself. I'm just saying I'm not that exciting.

See, ever since I've really gotten involved with the unschooling community, I've started feeling a little... bland. It feels like everyone else around me has some amazing talent, or has started their own business, or dresses really cool, or travels around the world, or has unique beliefs they're really passionate about, or can turn water into wine, or whatever. I have a friend who has wrestled a Japanese deer. Even my dad, who was once an actual, honest-to-God carny, seems more interesting than me.

Me? I'm a geek. Most of my deep thoughts are sparked by Star Trek. Where others might quote Emerson or Thoreau, I quote Dave Barry. Where others post insightful remarks about their deepest beliefs, I post fart jokes and complain about not being able to catch Mewtwo. Where others buy fresh, organic, local produce, I buy Twinkies and Dr. Pepper. My only "party tricks" involve having an encyclopedic knowledge of The Simpsons and being able to sing that song from Animaniacs where they name all the presidents real fast. To quote Dave Barry (see? I told you) - "My only area of proven competence is listening to the radio." And I do that quite a bit - you're much more likely to find Prince or Elton John in my library than anything new and edgy. Edgy music makes me want to wear slippers and tell kids to get offa my lawn.

But I don't get down on myself too much for not being that interesting - because I kinda like it that way. I don't see all those things as needing to be changed. I like my Simpsons reruns, and my Dr. Pepper, and my Elton John. I used to feel like because I was an unschooler I was obligated to develop some really unusual talent to prove unschooling creates awesome people, or something. (This pressure came only from the voices in my head, not from any of you, so don't worry. Except about my sanity.) But I'm starting to realize that putting that pressure on myself is getting in the way of my real passions. They're usually sort of nerdy and pointless, but at least they're mine.

Those of you who are awesome tightrope-walking fire-breathing globetrotters who play the didgeridoo are awesome and should keep it up. But if you just kinda like to hang out on the couch and not do anything too Earth-shattering, and you're feeling a little inadequate, you're awesome too. Come hang out with me for awhile, and you will definitely start feeling more interesting. Or maybe you will scream that if I ask you to play Trivial Pursuit one more time, you will spit beech nut in my face. But you will not feel inadequate.

Except at Trivial Pursuit. I will pwn you at that.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Gotta follow that dream...

Okay, first off, for those of you seeing this post when it's new, I realize St. Patrick's Day and winter have been over for a damned long time now! Sorry about that. Gonna work on the layout soon. For those of you stumbling on this six months later, disregard this paragraph :p

Some of you may have heard me hinting at some big plans, or big changes. I was gonna hold off until I had made a final decision before I made any announcements. Too many times in my life I've spent months telling EVERYONE I was gonna do something, only to back out at the last minute and feel like a fool. So I try not to announce things prematurely, and so far I've only told a few people about my plans. But in this case, I'm having trouble taking the big step forward, and I thought some input from others might help with that!

So what are the big plans? I'll give you a hint: It's what all these people have in common. Besides being unschoolers, and hippies (I mean that as a compliment). Ah hell, I'll just spit it out already.

I'm thinking about RVing. Like, really RVing. The kind of RVing where you devote full-time to traveling around the country, seeing friends, finding work on the road, chasing dreams, living in an RV that you sold your childhood home to get...

And there's the sticking point. Selling this house is simultaneously a big reason I want to do this, and the main reason I'm nervous about it. On the one hand, my family is gone and all I have here are memories. It seems pointless to try to live in the past, pointless to try and make a family home not feel empty when I'm by myself. The only reason I didn't get the hell out of this town when I turned 18 was my mom, and she's gone now. This is my chance to get out before anything else ties me down here.

On the other hand, my home IS my family, in a way. There's so much of them in it. When my grandparents bought this land nearly 40 years ago, there was nothing on it but a pump house and a tiny, pitiful trailer. My grandparents built a stable (which my grandma fell off the roof of and broke both wrists) so my mom could have a horse. Then my great-aunt moved this house - which was designed by her late husband - here from Georgia(!), and got rid of the trailer. When my dad (and I) came along, he moved another trailer here, built three new rooms onto it, and added an extension out from the stable to use as an auto shop. My grandpa added a carport in front of the pump house, built a deck onto the house, and planted a crape myrtle in the backyard. Aside from one of the rooms of the trailer, all those things are still here. They put so much work - and love - into this place, and their presence is palpable when I look around. The idea of never being able to come back to our little homestead is really, really painful.

But I can't live their dreams. I have to live my own. And I have a lot of reasons for wanting to do this! For one, I've always wanted to get out of the south. Sure, it's beautiful here, but there's plenty rotten in Denmark - or Dixie, as it were. Too much racism, too much homophobia, too much treating non-Christians like dirt. I'm not naive enough to think those things don't exist outside of the south - hate doesn't have a climate preference - but here, they live way out in the open. I'll always come back to visit, but I'm really not sure I wanna live here.

A more positive reason is that I have so many friends all over the place, who I miss terribly when I'm not around them, which is most of the time. Not that I don't have local friends! I have wonderful friends in Jacksonville, and I'll always be ready to visit them when it's time to head south for the winter. But I also have wonderful friends in Arizona, and New England, and Canada, and pretty much all over the continent. (Outside of it, too, but so far no one has figured out how to caulk an RV and float it across the Pacific.) I really wanna split my time between all my friends, instead of seeing some never, and seeing others so often that I risk taking them for granted while I'm missing the far away ones! Plus, I live on the wrong side of the city, so that even my "local" friends are all at least 40 minutes away. It's only once in awhile that I really get a chance to hang out with people. In an RV, I might not always be right in town, but at least I'll be able to choose my locations and move when one place gets old.

Finally, maybe the biggest reason I want to go is that I have no idea what I want to be when I "grow up". Living on the road would give me a chance to try out different kinds of work - including unconventional jobs at places like farms and national parks - and find what I want to do. I also want to try on lots of different places, because at this point I have no idea where I want to be. I wanna feel all kinds of weather, try all kinds of food, see all kinds of cities - all the good stuff.

So those are my tentative plans, and my reasons for and against. I'd love to hear what you guys think of all this. I'd especially love to hear from RVers, of course, or from anyone who has ever had to make a tough decision like this. But I wanna hear from anyone else reading this, too.

Especially people with great big yards ;)