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No, that’s not a real disease as far as I know. But I do often feel like I just don’t fit it. Anywhere.

I mean, I love office supplies and stationery and pens and planners, but… I’m not a high end collector, but I also don’t just buy anything shiny at the Target Dollar Spot, which seems to be the two most vocal extremes. I don’t care for the Pilot Frixion pens either, which might be as blasphemous as saying I don’t care for Mont Blanc. Ā I can find no other fans of my favorite pens even in the most vocal stationery communities and as for planners? I’m not buying an Erin Condron. Ever. I don’t constantly buy new ones or spend hours washi-taping and stickering my weeks. Which makes me kind of an outlier in those groups, too.

I like comics okay. I’ve read some that were awesome. Read some that were meh. Not crazy about superheros because I just don’t have the desire to keep track of all that. There’s a lot of backstory and a lot of issues and a lot of A LOT. For someone with a passing interest, it’s way too damn much. I also have no desire to get into internet arguments about about whether a reboot is being true to the creator’s vision from 1945. Plus, the superhero outfits are often just too silly to appeal to me. Fighting crime in a string bikini makes no sense, but neither does a neon leotard.

I hardly ever watch movies. I can’t seem to keep up with popular TV shows. I used to watch anime with a friend of mine, but I can’t keep up with that either. And, while it’s not fun to do alone, it’s not fun to feel alone in a crowd of rabid fans either.

I do martial arts, but a whole lot of that community is either tournament focused or Realistic Fight Defense focused in a way that makes it seem like they all walk around hoping to get jumped in an alley by a zombie riding a dinosaur. I practice martial arts. I enjoy it. But I’ve had a lot of years of walking around aware of my surroundings — because if anything ever happens to a woman, she gets blamed by our culture for what she’s wearing and doing and where she was wearing and doing things despite the fact that there’s more than a couple of dudes out there who don’t understand personal space or that touching or attacking women is wrong. A lot of years of watching people and trying to assess their potential for harm. Which isn’t to say I shouldn’t be able to go anywhere I damn well please — because I should — or that I blame anyone for anything if they do — because I don’t — but rather that I’d rather do martial arts in the dojo. I don’t want to have to explain to a cop why I hurt someone anymore than I want to explain how I got hurt.

I write, but I’m not published. Not sure I’m likely to be. Everyone else I know is, in some fashion or other. I got left behind. Figures, I was probably walking the long way around to avoid a creepy dude or otherwise in the wrong place at the wrong time. If there were an award for wrong place, wrong time, I’d be a contender. Not in the catastrophe category, mind you. More in that kind of always being two years too early, too tall three years before they made longer pants, getting a degree a year before it’s obsolete… that always being just slightly “off the beat” rather than standing on the one spot the asteroid hits. Which means, more and more when I attend writer-based events, I feel left out. The loser. The kid who doesn’t understand all their new, adult woes.

Along the same lines, I used to belong to a local book club. Enjoyed going, but then I spent too many nights at the dojo and didn’t want to spent the last free one at book club. Plus, the makeup of the group started changing. Vocal guy who refused to read anything written by women started showing up. Discussions turned from intelligent to downright pedantic with the addition of some newer people. And I felt like I never got a word in. I could be there the whole time and not utter a word. Which felt like I wasn’t there, so I stopped being there.

I like plants and gardening. Not well enough for this to be more than an attempt to keep the yard jungle-y enough to hide the neighbors while being civilized enough to get from house to car without a machete.

I follow a bunch of crafters and entrepreneurs, but I find most of them are focused less on selling goods instead of all selling the same e-book on using social media platforms to gain buyers or followers or creating hashtags or e-courses on using Pinterest or setting up Etsy shops or something. I know a lot of things, but I don’t feel I know any of those things well enough to charge people money to tell them about it. (The husband disagrees, because he compares my knowledge to his mother’s. Not sure that’s good or bad, but his point is that I lack confidence in the things I know because I don’t know everything.) At any rate, they’re all cheery and post nonstop staged photos of flowers and bright accessories on all white backgrounds in all white rooms and I don’t have any of that. Not sure I want any of that. The all white spaces might look good on Instagram, but they seem sterile, clinical in person. I don’t want to feel like I live in fancy rehab center.

I studied art and photography in college, but I’m not an artist or a photographer. I don’t feel comfortable existing in spaces with artists and photographers except silently, an anonymous observer. Artists and photographers are like writers and agents — they tend to look down on people they see as pretenders, unworthy talentless hacks.

I haven’t touched a video game besides sudoku on my phone in years. I used to play with the guys here, but the husband has one of those friends who spends so much time playing that he can’t stand watching anyone who isn’t “doing it right” so he was always yelling “go that way” or taking the controller away to “just get you to the next save point.” That’s no fun. He still does that to his other friends and my husband. I just quit going in there.

Nobody likes a noob. And fans seem to have become more niche, more obsessive, more exclusionary with the increase in internet use. Before, it was enough for everyone in a group to have a passing interest and learn more about a thing together. Now, it feels like one has to become an expert alone in order to enter the arena of fanhood or risk being shunned or cast out. And I’m never enough of any one thing to really belong.

In the meantime, I’m going to be over here with my coffee and my own drummer. (Eh, more coffee for me, I guess.)

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