6

Today I Learned Something New About Cars

Basically, the title of the post says it all, but here is the story anyways.

So, today, I felt like altering my plans of sitting and doing not much else other than watching Twin Peaks and making several cups of coffee with my new Keurig by heading to the Columbus Antique Mall. I love antique stores, and I usually have the self-control not to buy much, but I just kept seeing things that I liked today and ended up with $60 worth of stuff, including a knick-knack shelf, a limited edition Princess Diana beanie baby (the grand prize of the 1990s) and an awesome red quilted jacket/shirt thing that is a tiny bit small but it’s one fine piece of clothing and comfortable, too. Once, I saw a beautiful brown quilted jacket at that very same antique mall, tried it on, loved it, and then put it back because it was a bit too small. I’ve been kicking myself ever since, so today when I saw the red one on the form, I was like “mine.” The sleeves are way short, but I can roll them up, and I can only get the bottom two frogs closed unless I want to wear it open, which is fine by me.

Anyway, the car story.

So, riding high on my antique mall buys, I head home with about a half a tank of gas left. I could probably go until Madison, but there’s a $2.34/unleaded Kwik Trip right at the edge of Columbus, so I go there instead. I exit my car, put in my credit card, then try to open the gas door. And guess what?

It’s locked.

It’s been known to be finicky in the past, but it just wouldn’t budge. Fortunately, there was an attendant on duty (which so few gas stations have these days; get on that, gas stations) and he tried and tried but couldn’t get it. So, after a phone call with Dad, I call Triple-A, and get a chipper woman named Bethany who sounds slightly high but is curious as to why my gas door is acting the way it is. I tell her that I probably have enough gas to get home, so I can take it to a mechanic in the morning, but then she stops me and asks for my make/model/year, and then goes to the Internet because it’s in front of her, to help find a solution. I guess this is what Triple-A people do in their spare time, just like every other working person on the planet. After I fail to find any sort of lever inside the car to open my gas door, she suggests:

“Why don’t you try unlocking all the doors of your car.”

Beep-beep. Beep-beep. And…BAM. It worked. Thank you, Bethany at Triple-A! I had not even thought about that. I knew I had the back doors locked, because I was scared that the door would open and the shelf would fly out, but I didn’t think that would mean anything.

Apparently, in some cars (or at least mine), doors locked = all doors locked, including gas door.

Seriously, I did not know this.

I called Dad on the way home and told him, to which he was like, “oh, that’s news to me” and then proceeded to tell me a completely unrelated story about one time when he was getting gas near the courthouse and locked his keys in the car. Great contribution, Dad.

And that’s how I learned that in order to get the gas door open in the car, I need to have all the doors unlocked.

Lesson learned.

Oh, and BTW, I was watching my interactive map yesterday and in mid-afternoon I had exactly two visitors: one from Northampton, Massachusetts, USA, and the other from Northampton, England, UK. What are the odds?

Advertisements
6

27 Things I’ve Learned In My 27th Year Of Life

So, I just spent time I should have been studying going through my blog and reliving the past year, good and bad, on this, the eve of my 27th birthday. And I realized that I’ve learned a lot of things about myself and the world. Take notes, if you like.

November 2013

1. I can, in fact, memorize 55 pages of lines and recite them three times a week for two weeks. Maybe my acting career isn’t dead after all.

December 2013

2. Coffee cup lids are evil.

3. Cheese and crackers are Wisconsin’s answer to chips and salsa.

4. Einstein Brothers Bagels is always a bad idea.

5. I can drive down a country road through an ice storm.

6. But I need to scrape the ice off the windshield first.

7. Underground parking is a must in the Midwest.

January 2014

8. Car shopping sucks. Get a new one before yours dies in Mount Airy with all your stuff in it.

9. I can blog by talking into my phone. Technology!

10. Lacrosse has been the official team sport of Maryland since 2003.

11. The battle of Bunker Hill did not actually occur on Bunker Hill.

12. I will probably never develop orthorexia (thank goodness)!

13. Wisconsin is cold.

February 2014

14. Naps are underrated.

15. A true friend is one who listens to you cry and make unintelligble sounds for a solid half hour on the phone.

March 2014

16. Identity theft sucks.

17. Southwest Airlines offers free alcoholic beverages on Saint Patrick’s Day.

April 2014

18. Seeing your school lose in a sports game is still depressing, even as a grad student.

May 2014

19. Making good on resolutions is so not my thing.

June 2014

20. Arguing about race in high school musicals is one way to end a friendship.

21. Getting fined for horseplay in a state park is a horrible way to end a day trip.

July 2014

22. I own so much crap.

23. When bunking with three friends in a hotel, make sure your phone’s ringer is turned off at night.

August 2014

24. My favorite wine still exists, but it’s only available in Puerto Rico now.

25. Turkey burgers are fun and easy to make.

September 2014

26. Frustration is futile; forgiveness is fantastic.

27. I am a good person and I can make it on my own.

and as a bonus

28. I’m actually a pretty good cook.

So there we go.

27 years old…bring it on.

This post was inspired by my new online crush Taryn Southern‘s “Awkward Lessons from Instagram” video. Thank you, don’t sue.

0

Strategies for Talking with the Socially Awkward (Written By A Socially Awkward Person)

Awkwardness is alive and well in all levels of conversation, especially in 2013, when we can rely on text messages and emails to do our talking for us. The face-to-face is becoming rarer, and as we move towards an age of total social isolation, talking with people can be rough. I’d say about 75% of people out there would describe themselves as “socially awkward.” I am in that 75%. There’s no denying it; I am so socially awkward, most of it stemming from a childhood of limited social interactions with people (especially those my own age). Where I feel socially capable, however, is talking to the similarly socially awkward person, with hopes of decreasing or completely negating the mutually felt so-called social awkwardness. I had a conversation today with someone who is undoubtedly as socially awkward as I, or even more, and it went off beautifully, in part by employing these strategies:

1. Open with a fun greeting. Regardless of your mood, smile and say “Hey there!” or “How goes it?” or “Howdy!” Something to briefly catch the person off guard, showing you put some forethought into your greeting and are, dare I say, excited to meet/see the person.

2. Ask about the person, avoiding questions that leave room for a one-word answer. I personally love “How ya doin’?,” and saying it in a peppy manner is all the better, but opening the conversation with a prompting question rather than a…regular question…helps you glide right into actual person conversation. If you haven’t talked to the person in a really long time or are meeting them for the first time, sometimes you gotta reach a little bit. Saying “How’ve things been going?” or “Tell me about yourself!” works – something that’s inviting and lets them know that you want to continue the conversation, and are focused on them. “If you have talked to the person recently, you can ask them a question relating to something that happened in the interim since the last time you talked. For example, “How was your weekend?” or “What’s new in your life?” or “How’d your visit to the abortion clinic go?” Not the last one, but you get the point.

3. Focus on them, but not too much. I was seated at my conversation today, and I found that leaning forward and nodding my head was way more effective then sitting back and shrinking from the conversation. Also, because the chair was comfortable, and I didn’t sleep well last night, the sitting-back position was more likely to put me to sleep, so I adjusted myself periodically. Don’t always worry about sitting up straight, and if you need to adjust, don’t question yourself, just do it. Eye contact is important, but looking too intensely may scare him/her, so it’s okay to look down or to the side for a second. I was teaching a class once, and a guy in the front row was half-smiling and nodding and making eye contact with me, so as I was looking around the room doing the teaching thing, I kept coming back to him, and it made me feel a little bit special inside knowing that as awkward as I am, someone cared enough to listen to me. Either that, or he was a really convincing actor.

4. Listen until the end of the tape. If you remember cassette tapes, at the very end of the song, there’d be a tiny bit of empty hissing before the tape snapped and you had to rewind it. (God I feel so old.) Let his/her speech run its course, and then a few seconds longer, as if you’re waiting for the hiss or you’re on a three-second broadcast delay. (Better metaphor.) Don’t chomp at the bit with the next thing you’re going to say, even if you already know what it is – dial it back, son. Don’t make them feel like you’re controlling things; let him/her know that you’ve processed them for a second before opening your yap. Buuut…don’t wait too long, and create the Awkward Silence of Death (see number 6).

5. Be animated while you talk, but again, not too much. Nothing is scarier than a monotone, because most socially awkward people like myself get scared easily. Using your hands to gesture is fine. I’d suggest giving yourself some room lest you hit him/her in the nose. Act excited to be there, like “I’ve been so looking forward to this, and you, conversation partner, are just the bee’s knees, and I’d rather be nowhere else right now.” If you’re not, fake it, damn it. Don’t obscure your feelings; try putting your heart on your sleeve for a moment. Be vulnerable for a moment or two. Allow him/her to see your inner monologue and how what he/she is saying is directly influencing your processing of thought. Give them that power – for now – and then you’ll be like “ha ha, I am the puppet master of social interactions!” But don’t say that out loud.

6. Awkward Silence of Death. So many people have told me that silence is good in a conversation, but unless it’s with someone you’re really close to, it’s not. Keep silence at 3-4 seconds, max. Keep the conversation going, or you may let your guard down or allow them to retreat back into doubting their own social skills. I’ve been interviewed a lot of times, and the ones with awkward silences are the worst. Keep it light, and say something to bring your minds back into the conversation.

7. Know when to switch topics, and when to cut bait. Don’t EVER say “let’s change the topic…” that implies that you are either uninterested or insulted by what he/she is currently telling you. Try “In other news…” or “just apropos…” or if you’re feeling irreverent, “And now, for something completely different…” And when you switch the topic, don’t come out of left field, it might leave your awkward person tongue-tied. Ending conversations is tough…if you have somewhere to be, or something to do, or you run out of things to talk about and fall into the trap of “so…yeah… [trails off into nothingnowherenadaland]” make a move and a cheery exit, maybe even with a flourish, making your conversation partner look forward to the time when the two of you can be socially awkward together again.

Above all, keep it positive, light, upbeat, and breezy…the more you pretend that you’re a socialite, the better it works! But you’re obviously in possession of more intelligence than your average socialite (whoops, almost typed socialist) so you got it made in the shade.

If you’re talking to a person who thinks they’re not socially awkward, then either a) these strategies will not work for you, or b) it is likely that he/she is, in fact, more socially awkward than you.

This was a weird post, but if you’ve learned nothing, know this:

Social interactions are only as terrifying as you make them. Most people don’t have two heads, one speaking to you and one judging you. If you are in a conversation with a person with two heads, run and get your camera because you’re obviously going to want a selfie. If you are in a conversation with a zombie, just skip to number 7, cut bait with a cheery exit and a flourish, and then just run away because otherwise they will eat your brains.