Avoiding the Doolallies of Living Alone

(Ya, I know it’s long, but I won’t post for a couple of days to make up for it)

A lot of the people I know live alone. I lived alone for a long time and I look forward to living alone again in the not too distant future. I’m madly in love with my daughter and everything and I’m totally happy to have her with me as long as she wants to be, but I do like living alone. A lot.

I like coming home and finding everything exactly as I left it. I like not having to live around anyone else’s schedule. In this wacky old world, I like having my own tiny oasis surrounded by a few, personally chosen, beautiful things. However, like all perfectly good things, there is one tiny drawback to living alone – the very real potential of cracking up, going looney, losing your marbles. If you’re not careful, all that lovely solitude and freedom can make you a little bonkers after a while.

So, here are a few tips to help keep you functionally normal if you live on your own or expect to live on your own sometime soon:

1. Hoarding: Don’t start collecting things to make up for the lack of humans in your home. I don’t know why, but a lot of people who live on their own become pack-rats, accumulating bizarre collections of things. I think they think of this as a viable hobby. It’s not. It’s just one step away from rooms full of old TV guides.

2. Pets: Don’t get more than one pet. The number of animals in the house must always be less than or equal to the number of humans. If you have a fish, that’s it. No more pets for you. In fact, a fish is an excellent pet for a person living alone. You can’t get too gaga over a fish. There aren’t a lot of cute fish clothes or toys for fish. Fish don’t make good subject for more than one photograph and they’re not interesting enough to talk or blog incessantly about.

3. Food: Go grocery shopping every week and/or spend some time at the market accumulating fresh food. Not having any real food in your home is not healthy mentally or physically. If you don’t have food, you won’t cook for yourself. Then when you suddenly get hungry you’ll end up eating weird stuff like beets, (from the rusty can in your cupboard that you forgot to give to the Food Bank), mixed with toaster crumbs and take-out packets of soy sauce. Or you’ll sneak over to the corner store late at night and buy a large bag of Doritos and something from the bottom of their freezer for supper. You are what you eat and eating weird food on the sly eventually will make you both weird and sly.

4. Socializing: Go out sometimes with friends, but don’t fill up your evenings and weekends with back-to-back social activities to avoid being home by yourself. People living alone tend to swing either this way or completely the other way, where they just get too comfortable to ever leave the house unless they absolutely have to. Hermits are quirky and fun to read about, but if you’re paying attention you’ll notice they tend to end up as uni-bombers or something.

5. Entertaining: Invite people over to your place once in a while – once a month is good. People who live alone don’t entertain much. Usually because they have their place so compulsively organized they resent anyone being there who might possibly disarrange things. Or, they have their place in such a disgusting mess that they’re afraid to have company. Also, people living alone never have anything to feed guests. If someone drops by, they panic, stick their head out the door and wait for you to state your business and be on your way. If they can’t get rid of you, sometimes they let you sit on their porch and after a while they’ll bring you a glass of water.

6. Sex: Don’t bring people home for casual sex. This is really important to your mental health and the overall feng shui integrity of your oasis. You might think it will be nice to wake up to a warm body for a change. The reality is you won’t be able to sleep all night because once your immediate needs have been met your bed will suddenly become very crowded. Also, in the morning the other person will be less than half as attractive as he or she was the night before. Now you’re stuck with them and will be expected to feed them breakfast. They’ll use your shower and towels and leave god-knows-what behind. And who knows then they’ll decide to leave? No, if you’re going to engage in casual or not-so-casual sex do it at the other person’s house. Then you can go home right afterwards and enjoy a good night’s sleep in your own clean, fresh sheets.

7. Holidays: Don’t get mired down and depressed on weekends and holidays imagining all the wonderful things the coupled people are up to while you’re on your own. Chances are they’re at each others throats, scrapping about whose turn it is to pick the TV show and fighting over the last piece of pizza. If you find yourself alone at Christmas or your birthday or some other day that’s special to you, organize something special for yourself. Make a really nice meal, watch a distracting movie, get lost in a good book, buy yourself a gratifying surprise at your favourite adult toy store.

8. Crime: Don’t spend your time peering out the window checking for crimes in progress. I know it’s tempting since there is a potential for lots of excitement if something happens that will let you call and engage in conversation with the police or fire department, but chances are slim. If you really want to stumble on a crime scene you’ll need to get up really early and either jog or walk a dog. Only early morning joggers and dog walkers ever get to report crimes. You’d know that if you spent more time watching TV and less time at the window.

9. Paranoia: Don’t spend your time obsessing over ways you imagine people have wronged you. People alone seem to do this a lot. They get hyper-sensitive to what may really only be a bit of thoughtlessness on the part of friends, family or co-workers. They start making lists of “toxic people” in their lives after watching too much Oprah. Then they start shunning these people or, later on, when they’ve really lost the plot, start planning elaborate revenge schemes.

10. Nakedness: Whenever you read or hear anything about the joys of living alone, they always, but always mention how great it is that you can walk around naked all the time. Why is this such a great thing and does anyone ever really do this? Okay, if you’re alone, you don’t have to wrap up to leave the bathroom after your shower and maybe on a really hot day you just let it all hang out, but do people cook and eat naked? (dangerous) Sit around watching TV with nothing on? (yucky) Sit at home alone at night reading blogs naked? (creepy).