doing things

came home early today, because this sinus headache was not stopping, and i still wasn't able to get much done at work. spent the afternoon sleeping and watching the very last of DS9, which has made me a little sad. my favorite star trek ever, and now i have seen all the episodes. sigh.

s. called this afternoon, wanting the number of j.' insurance company that i'd already given him months ago. s., being severely dyslexic, can't just flip through a phone book and hope he recognizes the name of the company, so i cut him some slack on this one. however, now that i think about it, it strikes me that once again, nearly every time someone has called me recently, it's because they want something from me. they either want to vent, want me to do something for them, want me to drive them somewhere, want me to listen to them, or need my help doing something.

i'm really not happy about that. back in late december/early january, i hit my breaking point with people hitting me up for things and not reciprocating. it dwindled for a while, and now it's creeping back up. i don't know if it's just that the people who i can count on to reciprocate, or genuinely like just spending time with me without it being about me doing something for them, are all so busy at the moment that they have to carefully schedule trips to the bathroom, or are out of town. that might be it. but apart from april and j., i can't remember the last time someone called me up and said, 'hey, let's hang out,' and that was the only thing on their agenda. (if you've been wondering why j. is still in my life, we're looking at one of the top reasons, right here. he IS a good friend to me.) i've had plenty of people call and ask to hang out, but i find out after a while that what they really meant was 'let's hang out, so you can listen to me vent/help me solve my problem/do something for me.' this is making me rapidly not want to hang out with any of those people.

many of the problems i'm being asked to help with all center around design or art or color. while j. is probably the source of 50% of these questions, he also pays me, either through his company for large jobs, or in single-malt scotch for small ones. so, i really don't mind the questions from him, because there's a key thing here: he respects that i am a professional, and he pays me something for my time. now, none of the other people asking are asking me to do a *job* for free. they're asking relatively small things, like helping them decide which carpet to buy while we're out shopping, or what i think of the paint they picked for their room, or car colors, or... well, you get the idea. while i don't feel right charging friends for my opinion on something that only takes a few minutes of my day, it's adding up. if these were clients, i'd have NO problem asking to be compensated. but with my friends, i have problems. part of the issue, i think, is that design is not yet seen as a *real* skill. if i were an attorney, they wouldn't expect me to do it for free. but yet, choosing a color should be, to these folks. hell, not like i want buckets of money from my friends for minor color decisions, but how about a 69-cent burrito from del taco or a cup of coffee as a token of appreciation?

or, the other category of problems is the therapy category. since i sent out my rather annoyed letter a couple of months ago to the worst offenders, that has decreased, but it, too, is beginning to ratchet back up.

this all makes me wonder: am i really not worth spending time with on my own unless i'm doing something for someone? the idea that i might not be bothers me a lot. am i that uncomfortable for people to just *be* around? i can't make my friends that uncomfortable -- otherwise, i wouldn't have them unloading their deepest secrets on me. so what gives? why is it so tough for so many people to call up and invite me over for dinner? or coffee? i'm a good conversationalist. i'm willing to drive places to hang out. i have social skills (tact... not so much, though). i don't think i smell. when i call people and ask them to do things, they usually say yes, but i'm beginning to feel like i have to prod people to spend time with me.

and being one of the few single people in a social circle of couples, well... it's awkward. i often feel like i'm a fifth wheel. now, it's not like i can't spend time alone -- i can. but i've learned that *too* much time alone is bad for me, and is a major trigger for depression. 3 days of not speaking to anyone but my dog, or 4 days of only going to work and coming home, or an entire weekend alone... Not Good. not good, not because i need someone in my life romantically, but i need to know someone gives a damn about whether or not i'm okay, if i'm still alive -- that sort of thing. a roommate seemed like a great solution last year, but 1-not jeff, and 2-i discovered my house is just not set up to live with someone i'm not sleeping with. my rent is impossibly cheap for the area, and i have a dog, so moving is not an option unless i come into a LOT of money.

so, i feel a little stuck. when i DO see people, they're usually hitting me up for something, so if i hang out with them, i'm drained; the people who give me something back are busy; and if i make more than one phone call a week asking someone to hang out, i feel like i'm being needy and clingy and not independent.

i'm going to make myself dinner and think about how to fix this.