I spent a great deal of the weekend hanging out at the salad house with ideath, conform, ouro, qousqous, roninspoon, altusmens, flamingweasel, joyquality, unkle_social, and a bunch of other wonderful people whose screen names I unfortunately cannot deduce. It has been a long time since I've had so much fun and felt so welcome. Thank you all.
Fortunately, when I headed over on Saturday, I did not realize I was going to a Noder gathering (if I had realized, I probably would have been intimidated and not come). Now that I realize how cool y'all are, I might just have to give this e2 thing a go myself.
The highlight of the weekend for me was having dinner at the Kennedy School. If you have never been there before (I hadn't, until this weekend), you simply must go. I thought it was fabulous, and I didn't even get to see the movie theater.
The sappy stuff:
Five years ago I went through a bout of depression owing to the fact that I was fresh out of college and didn't know how to make friends in the "real world", so my social circle was dwindling down to nearly zero. A counselor advised me that I should choose some activities I enjoyed, and find clubs of people who like those activities, and start going. The clubs would be a good non-threatening environment to meet people with similar interests, and the friendships would grow out of that naturally.
As an extremely introverted person, I found that advice hard to follow. In fact, I only followed it once (when I joined the juggling club here in Portland). But today, I feel happy and fulfilled in my friendships, and it's no coincidence that I can trace back every friend I have in Portland to the juggling club (with the exception of people I know from work). So I guess it was really good advice.
If I could go back and talk to my poor introverted five-years-ago self right now, I would add the following things to the counselor's advice: (1) You don't have to be talkative to be social--some people's way of getting to know others is by listening to them. (2) A lot of activities turn out to be way more fun than they look, but you only know that once you are doing them. (3) Each of your friends knows as many people as you do (perhaps more). Use the square law to your advantage, and get to know your friends' friends too.
Ok, I did warn you it would be sappy.