Our First Geocaching Event

Tonight, Jon and I attended our first Geocaching Event, Post Hallo”weenie” Roast, and had a blast, though getting to that point was a little rough.

The day started out okay. I had an eye exam this morning and everything checked out fine. I believe my vision has actually improved slightly in the few years since my last exam. I ordered some new lenses and frames, and I should have those by next week. So that was good.  Work wasn’t horrible. I got quite a bit done and used my lunch to start this year’s NaNoWriMo project.  After work, however, anxiety crept up on me and I had a tough time in the two hours we were doing stuff before the event.

Besides my normal social anxiety that was peeking out due to the prospect of meeting new people, I was also feeling road anxious and had a hard time driving with all the people leaving work and going to sporting events. Normally, I can deal. Today was really tough. I think that even though I used this week to do more activity outside, this coming week needs to put me back in the gym, because that has been effective at keeping the high amounts of anxiety at bay.

Things finally eased up when we found two caches near where the event was being held and actually made it to the event itself. The event was a fire and weenie roast hosted by one of the area’s more well known cachers. The place it was held seemed a little scary at first, but it was actually a really cool area. There was a 400 yard walk from the parking lot to the campsite where there was a grill, a firepit, and some stone benches for seating. There was also a huge field to one side, and a hill that I believe lead to a creek on the other. There were two caches in the park, but we opted out of going to them, deciding to go during the day sometime to explore the area more thoroughly.

This reminded me of The Blair Witch Project, but the actual area wasn't as creepy as one might think.
This reminded me of The Blair Witch Project, but the actual area wasn’t as creepy as one might think.

We had just gotten settled, did a few introductions, and were getting ready to roast some hot dogs when a storm started blowing in. We’d seen the lightning in the distance, and it just seemed to be getting closer. There was talk of moving to the event to the host’s house, but after checking the weather, it looked like it would only be a short one. To stay out of the rain, everyone walked back to the parking lot and waited the storm out in their cars.

I have a mild phobia of lightning. I love thunderstorms, but I worry about being outside in one because I don’t want to get struck by lightning. I was more than happy to wait it out in the car, but once we got there, it rained for three minutes and the thunder and lightning were nowhere to be heard or seen. Once the rain let up, everyone headed back to the campsite to eat and enjoy the rest of the evening.

The event gave us the chance to put some faces to names. Everyone was super nice and offered to help us when we were ready to hide our own caches. Semmels (the host) gave all the first timers a bison tube, and later he hooked us up with a few micro containers to hide as well.

Film canisters and bison tubes
Film canisters and bison tubes

We also met North Coast Cacher and discussed how his Wamego Boat Ramp cache has thwarted us several times. We had a good laugh over it, but seriously….we are going to find that one. If the weather holds tomorrow morning, I think we’ll head out there again, despite me saying last time that we were going to give up on it completely. Now it’s just becoming a challenge.

The event also gave us a chance to discover several travel bugs, including one brought by NCC and ones on people’s vehicles. This only confirms that we really need to get one for our car.

Besides talking to people, I got to enjoy a bonfire, something I loved doing as a kid and don’t get to do nearly enough as an adult. I got to eat roasted hot dogs and have a s’more, and Jon and I got to look at the stars for awhile. It was a great night! There are two more events coming up, and I’m definitely less anxious and more excited to attend both of them.

It’s way past my bed time, so my writing projects will have to wait until tomorrow. Hope everyone out there is gearing up for a good weekend!


Social Weekend

As part of my “be more social in 2012” plan, I spent some time with friends this past weekend.

I don’t want people thinking I’m a complete recluse, but it’s often easier for me to be introverted than to deal with even the trace amounts of social anxiety I get. It’s also harder for me to be social when I’m not feeling well, and in hindsight, 2011 was not a feel good year for me, even when I started trying to get healthier.

The beginning of this year sees me feeling much better in general, physically, emotionally, and mentally…all factors that play into me being a more social person.

This past weekend brought Drunken DnD, where my fellow gamer friends and I got together for some gaming (incidentally, not DnD) and some drinks. My heavy party days are behind me, but I had enough to relax and have fun without doing anything embarrassing or having to take up couch space. Unfortunately, I tend to relax a little too much…I get sleepy and zone out really easily. However, I have some hilarious friends, so there was no way I was going to fall asleep.

There was a little bit of “fun” business on Sunday when I went to a local gaming convention meeting. I helped with the con a few years ago, then took a break for various reasons. I decided this year to get back into it and help out, and the first meeting was good. I’m still not sure what the dates are going to be, but we have some good ideas and I get to plan some discussion panels and seminars. Plus, I’ll probably get to run a game at the con itself, which will help me stretch my DM fingers again.

After watching several episode of “The IT Crowd” with a friend that afternoon, I attended the local SnB Knitting Group for the first time since it started. Like any new situation, it was slightly awkward, but the people were nice and I made some good progress on the blanket that I’m determined to have done by the end of February. I wasn’t overly thrilled with the local donut shop it was held at, but I’m not really a fan of donuts (I had one because I was hungry, but they’re never my first choice of snack). Or small chairs that are not made for a larger rear end, such as my own. Still, I’m probably going to go again, maybe even next Sunday after we get home from Wichita.

As with the other areas of my life I’m trying to balance, I want to find a good medium between friend time and alone time. I feel like I’ve been a little extreme on either end in the past, but like anything else, it doesn’t necessarily have to be an all or nothing issue.

Even in terms of balance, this past weekend was good.

Person of Wal-Mart

Today, I went to Wal-Mart.

I hate Wal-Mart. Actually, I hate the Wal-Mart here in Manhattan, KS.

I don’t have a hate-on for the general company of Wal-Mart.  I know they’ve received negative press, but they do have low prices for people who don’t have alot of money. Going to  this Wal-Mart, however, induces annoyance and anxiety.

The anxiety is a personal thing. I deal with social anxiety in general, and while it has improved, it’s still really strong in certain settings.  There always seems to be too many people in Wal-Mart. The aisles feel too small, the lines too long, and the store too big. I know this is something I have to get over and I think at some point, the anxiety will ease up the way it has at Dillons or Aldi.

There’s also the fear that I’m going to end up on “People of Wal-Mart” one of these days (if I’m not there already). Felber told me I’d have to be wearing a weird hat or a visible thong  to make it on that site. While I’m not to that level, I do tend to dress scrubby on weekends (which is when I go to Wal-Mart, if I go at all), and even though 9 out of 10 other shoppers are also dressed scrubby, I feel like I’m the one being looked at (this may also be attributed to my size which seems like a bigger deal when the social anxiety comes out).

Then there are the annoyances. For instance, people who feel the need to stand and socialize in those small aisles, making it impossible for anyone else to get through. Some of those people are polite enough to notice others around them and move out of the way, but most of the time they continue to talk without even bothering to look at anyone else.

Another pet peeve is the people who let their children run wild. Not everyone does this, and I don’t begrudge moms the right to bring their children to the store. What I would expect is that they teach their children how to behave in public. I’ve actually seen some great parenting in Wal-mart. One time I saw a little girl ask if she could have something, and her mother very calmly told her that she could have it but she’d have to use her allowance money because the money she’d brought was for groceries. The little girl, who couldn’t have been more than 5, was so good about it. She didn’t throw a temper tantrum or cry. She actually seemed to think about it before saying, “No, I think I’ll find something better.”

I’ve also had children walk in front of me and say “Excuse me” or “I’m sorry” and I want to shake the parent’s hand.

Unfortunately, I usually see kids running up and down aisles, knocking into other customers, screaming because they don’t get what they want, and pulling stuff off shelves. In most of these cases, the parents are either nowhere to be seen or too busy reading a bottle of shampoo to keep their kids in check. I often think cage rentals might be appropriate at times like that.  Forget the hands…I just want to shake the parents.

The local Wal-mart also irritates me because of the slow and unfriendly customer service.  Even the self checkouts are slow, like the computer system sees the pace that everyone else works at and decides not to push its processing capabilities.

Don’t even get me started on the automotive department. I took my old car to them for oil changes and they always messed things up, charged me more than they quoted (alot more and often for services they originally told me would be no extra charge), and seemed more interested in talking to their co-workers than letting their customers know when their car was done. I haven’t taken my new car to them at all, and I never will if I can help it.

The purpose of today’s trip was to buy new pants, and the mission was accomplished. I found two pairs of decent work pants, though I didn’t actually try them on, because I hated the thought of getting undressed in their dressing rooms. Still haven’t tried them on at home either, but I will. I think I’m more worried about having to return them to Wal-mart than the fact that I won’t have two new pairs of pants if they don’t fit.

I also picked up deodorant, so at least I can be slightly less scrubby on my next trip back. If things work out okay, though, it’ll be another six months before I have to step back into that place, and maybe by then I’ll have more of my social anxiety under control.