Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Secret Single Behavior

One of the hardest things to adjust to during my first year in Japan was not the language or culture or even the food, it was simply living alone. If you know me, you know that I have a big, close-knit family. We are talking packed-house-screaming-babies-running-children-blaring-TV all the time. I am quite accustomed to chaos.

When I moved to Washington to attend college, I embraced the dorm setting and constantly left my door open to allow a steady stream of my dormmates to enter. I was never really alone until I was passed out asleep, and there were many nights that I had little slumber or all-night-study parties, too. I love, LOVE to be constantly surrounded by people.

Cut to my first week in Japan: I don't know the language or culture, and I only know a couple of fellow teachers, so I am home a lot. I live alone. No internet, no cellphone. Deathly quiet. Alone.
See #7
I hated it.

At every opportunity, I avoided the apartment. I'd stay at work way too late, doing nothing, just to be around other people. I'd go to McDonald's or Starbucks just to hear other voices. I'd drive and drive and drive--forever avoiding the quiet and loneliness waiting for me in the apartment.

It's been nearly three years, and slowly, gradually I've adjusted. Recently, I've noticed that I even enjoy being alone. Maybe ... even... prefer it?  *shock*

I started thinking about this subject after reading an article a friend shared called The Freedom, and Peril, of Living Alone, and I realized that I've developed my own little quirks from living alone, my own Secret Single Behavior (the "single" referring to my living status, not my relationship status...in case you were wondering) . 

Some of the behaviors will remain secret forever, but I am going to share a few of the less terrifying/repulsive secrets with you today.

Secret Single Behavior #1: Cleaning
Cleaning is not exactly my strong suit. I love tidying and organizing, but not cleaning. Living alone, with no one to do the cleaning for me, I've developed a system. What I do is put off the cleaning for a few days or a week, then take the whole evening, or the whole day, and devote it entirely to the task. I put on some music or a movie, clear my mind, and just slowly work my way around the apartment, cleaning everything. I don't talk to anyone, do anything, or think. Just clean.
So clean!
If I had a roommate or a family living with me, this system would probably never work, but living alone, I really enjoy it! Is that odd?

Secret Single Behavoir #2: Eating
I am terrible at cooking for myself. I enjoy cooking for others, and have dinner parties often, but if it's just me eating dinner at the end of the long work day, I am not likely to whip out the recipe book and start trying new and exciting dishes. Until recently, I would grab a piece of bread and a piece of ham and just eat them, not even bothering to add mustard or cheese to make a sandwich.  It was terrible, and I often found myself unsatisfied and snacking on junk food later, or just skipping the food prep all together and eating out. I've gotten a little better by making all my meals for the week on Sunday, but it's still a limited (and repetitive) menu. 

Secret Single Behavior #3: Doors
Some doors should be closed at certain times, but a single person such as myself might not normally need to worry about said doors. Sometimes that gets tricky when one does have guests, however, and I have to be careful to keep awkward situations from occuring. 'Nuff said.

Secret Single Behavior #4: Noise
One of the coping mechanisms from those early days of loneliness that has stuck with me is background noise. I am embarassed to admit that I still require a constant output of music or tv noise in order to bear being home alone. If I did have someone else living with me, I would hopefully be able to break the habit. In the meantime, I am never home more than ten minutes without turning on the radio or loading a tv show online, and the noise doesn't cease until the moment I close my eyes. Sometimes I even watch TV while I shower; I put my laptop on a chair in the next room and watch through the open door (see #3). It's a disease, I tell ya.

Secret Single Behavior #5: Clothes
It's hot here in the summer. Like, really hot.  And I don't use air conditioning. *Ahem*
Moving on....

Secret Single Behavior #6:Tidying
I mentioned in #1 that I prefer tidying over cleaning and what I mean is that I love keeping things in their places, even if that place is dirty. For example, the dishes go in the cupboard if they're clean and the sink if they're not. Sometimes they're not clean for weeks at a time, but as long as they are in their proper place (and not stinky), I don't mind. Clothes go in the hamper if they're dirty and in the closet if they're clean. Sometimes "in the closet" means in a healping pile on the floor of the closet, but it still counts.
See what I mean? Tidy but not necessarily clean. And I sure do love to keep my apartment tidy! Having people stay too long can be a little stressful for me because I have to constantly resist the urge to tidy their things. My college roommate understood this about me and gave me permission to tidy her side of the room if it got to me. I love her for that.

Secret Single Behavior #7: Photos
When I get really bored, or really creative, or wake up with really cool hair, I take pictures. Of myself. Sometimes in costume.
This miiiight be the most embarassing SSB of them all. Maybe.
So there you have it, a glimpse into my single-living life. It can be a pretty strange, somewhat scary place, but it works for me, and I like it.

If you live (or have lived) alone, what are your Secret Single Behaviors?

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