I’m socially inept. I can’t function properly in normal situations. I don’t really know what a normal situation is. I have difficulty with “society,” and continue to use quotation marks around the word for some strange reason. The things we’re supposed to take seriously, well, I can’t. And the silly stuff? Well, it absorbs me. I guess I’m disconnected. I’m the embodiment of Durkheim's anomie and feel all too often like Edvard Munch’s freaky-looking dude screaming out on a bridge. People avoid having a conversation with me. It’s kind of like bumping into your ex-gay lover in Barnes and Noble: it's just an awkward situation. I learned to hate that word, awkward. It reminds me of those other bad “aw” words like awful and, well, that’s the only other bad “aw” word I can come up with at the moment.
Years ago when I was living in Los Angeles I took a self-help course unabashedly entitled “How to Be Normal.” The “life consultant,” a woman by the name of Beaches, encouraged me to stretch myself socially. “Take a chance,” she said. Then she annoyingly kicked into the Abba song a cappella. For a time I referred to myself as “Watermelon,” because I like watermelons, and Beaches suggested that I give myself a name of something that makes me happy. It didn’t work. It seemed too artificial, and, frankly, bizarre. Another suggestion of hers was to keep a journal. Whenever I felt like I was an outcast or that I didn’t fit into a social context, I’d log my feelings on the matter and try some self-analysis. This exercise also didn’t work. After a few months, I had a stack of notebooks filled with doodles and drawings. For what it’s worth, I’m quite proud of one of the drawings: a desert flower defiantly clinging to life in a dried-out riverbed amid a hostile, barren land.