No, being an introvert is not cool.

Google “being an introvert is cool” and you will get approximately 502,000 hits.

Huffington Post, Near Science, Thought Catalog Weekly, Introverts for Dummies.

Have you seen all of the memes out there? Girl wrapped in blanket on couch with cat and book. Girl not answering her phone. Girl sneaking out of a party without saying goodbye.

It’s almost always a girl.

And she’s usually quite endearing.

And happy.

There are new articles, studies, personal essays and cartoons every single day celebrating the life of an introvert, making good-natured jokes about a person hoping that a party gets cancelled or eating alone in a restaurant.

I even saw on an Introvert Bingo board “Adorably Awkward.”

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The message is definitely YAY for wanting to be alone!

Many of my loved ones find me quirky, silly, eccentric.

But let’s just clear something up right now…

IT’S NOT FUCKING COOL TO HAVE PANIC ATTACKS BEFORE FRIENDS SHOW UP AT YOUR HOUSE.

Sure, I can embrace the lighter side of introversion – I do entertain myself well, I enjoy my own company, I love to read and definitely do not need external attention to feel complete or even good about myself. And yes, because I have relatively high self-esteem, I prefer being a loner than not.

But it can be so very very dark and scary and lonely and it’s not about a goddamn bingo board or hanging out with my cat.

Last night, MCB was at the neighbor’s and when he came home he said that they were coming over for burgers (which he was preparing so it wasn’t about me having to cook.) 2 close friends, super duper casual and easy and fun. They’d been pulling thistle all day and needed to be fed.

All in all a lovely invitation from MCB and had I had notice, I would have probably gotten excited.

But, since it was spur of the moment, I lost my shit. Seriously fell apart. I ended up on the bathroom floor pathetically unable to deal, sobbing.

I couldn’t decide which was worse: telling the friends to not come over and suffer the humiliation of being rude; having them come over and trying to fake my way through the evening while my heart was pounding in my chest and I was fighting back tears and therefore couldn’t be nice, and suffer the humiliation of being a bitch to two really kind people; or letting them come over and hiding in my room pretending to be sick and suffering the humiliation of them knowing that I am a complete basket case.

I had to leave the house and go for a drive. I went to the park where I often go to cry, saw a friend and totally unloaded all of my social anxiety onto his shoulders (bless his heart.) I drove around looking at wildlife wishing I was a fox.

Then, mortified, I called MCB to let him know that I was (slowly) recovering and that yes, they should come over and hopefully I was going to pull it together and be hospitable.

I did. I actually had a good time. Since M and M were here when I finally returned and deserved and explanation I offered up, “I had a breakdown” and left it at that.

What was I going to say,”I completely freaked out because I found out that you two were coming over”?

The dark side of “cool introversion” is about exhaustion and terror and despondency. It’s about crying on the bathroom floor because you just found out that people are unexpectedly coming to your house.

It means not going to the store when you desperately need something because you don’t want to see anyone and have to talk, so doing without things like…dinner.

It’s about not getting your oil changed when it’s WAY overdue even when a mechanic shop is on your property because you get gripped at the thought of having to ask for something even though the mechanic is a good friend and it’s his job.

It’s about not returning movies on time for fear of another person standing in front of the red box.

It’s about losing friends because you are unable to keep in contact since to do so would mean talking on the phone or worse – actually making time for a face to face.

It mean people not liking you because they think you’re stuck up or intimidating.

It’s about arguing with the “more the merrier” friend because she really doesn’t get that for you, more isn’t merrier and you feel so misunderstood and flawed because you’re not able to be with great people all at one time and you’re sick and tired of having to explain that to her.

It’s about feeling deep shame when your best friend does actually get it and asks if it’s okay to invite one more person to go to the movie with the two of you.

It’s about having to offend people when you  lay down the law about drop-ins and not making exceptions even for the closest of friends.

It’s about having to have time to wrap your head around shifting gears, changing plans and being in public. It’s about sometimes being utterly unable to to that.

I live on a working ranch, there is always activity here, there are always people around.

I lie in my bed silently praying that no one decides to knock on the door.

I get resentful that I can’t go collect chicken eggs without risking a conversation. Sometimes I blow off the chickens.

I spent the entirety of today alone, doing laundry, weeding, drying mint, petting my dog. I haven’t been on the phone. I haven’t left the house except to feed the chickens. I thought about watching a movie tonight, but it feels too stimulating.

So sure, there are some really good things about not being a social beast and I am super okay with going to the desert by myself and writing for three days without fear or boredom or FOMO. I am incredibly well-read and getting sent to my room as a kids was a gift, not a punishment.

But folks, let’s not make light of this. Let’s not pretend that it’s all about the cat and the couch.

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Sundays

You ever have those days when you want to be happy, get a lot done, enjoy the day?

You don’t wake up wanting to feel blue. You don’t get out of bed thinking, “I want to have a shit day today.”

You certainly don’t want to spend the whole day trying to hold it together or sleeping the sunshine away.

Seriously, who wants that?

So, this morning, I wake up next to my sweetest BF (MCB) and my adorable little dog is so thrilled to have me home that he can’t stop wiggling, and the sun is out, and I can hear my new wind chimes, and my children are happy and well, and I have nothing on my agenda until 5:00 pm except put the final dishes away after our super fun dinner party, feed the piglets, commune with the chickens, take the doglets to the pond, maybe go for a run, read a book, sew, write, then, go to my job that I actually enjoy, work for a few hours, make some good money, laugh a lot, then come home and curl up with MCB and the dog.

And yet, I am so off. My heart feels…unenthused. I want to crawl under the covers and escape – read or sleep. Or I could smoke a shitload of weed and just prostrate myself on the couch, stare at nothing, and think about even less.

When I took the dogs to the pond, I curled up on the grass and tried to doze off – that is, until the big one decided to roll all over me right after a long swim and traipse through the mud.

MCB is building a hog fence – we are now pig farmers. We have 8 adorable little piggy boys who will grow up to be kilos of bacon and chops. When I entered the chicken coop with their kale and hamburger treats, almost all of them squatted to be held. So endearing. So funny.

And still, blah.

I can’t think of a single reason to feel this way, today.

I am totally loving my life. The freedom of not working 9-5 is more liberating that I could possibly have imagined.  My waitressing gig is a good one and I love my cooking job.

Who wouldn’t enjoy creating really good food that’s fresh and organic and homemade and nurturing?

My kids are fantastic – one graduates from college today, another from high school next weekend, the third wrote me a text last night to tell me how much he loves me.

I live in a gorgeous place on this planet and my life is filled with beauty and good people and amazing friends and promise and hope and lightness.

And yet my soul is heavy.

Last night, an old friend posted a photo on Facebook of her family on the beach, in the place where I knew her; the place where I spent my formative summers, a place we thought we “owned.”

A place I may never see again because of the near-impossibility of getting there from here and the expense of just setting foot on the island, let alone trying to stay there.

And suddenly, because it’s today, my home feels less than. It’s not there.

And it sends me spiraling into the What If’s about all the choices that I have made in my life to get me here and not there.

And any other day of the week, I would be thanking the heavens above for those decisions, but it seems like Sundays are a kill-joy.

I have noticed that Sundays tend to be challenging (to say the least).  So often, when I feel this way I think, “Why do I feel this way?”

And then I remember that I often ask that question and seems like it’s on a very regular time frame and I realize, once again, that for some unknown reason, “Sundays are hard.”

I don’t go to bed on Saturday night thinking, “Oh fuck yeah, tomorrow is Sunday, I can be a depressed sloth for the entire day. Yippeee.”

No, it doesn’t even cross my mind at all, so this is definitely not a psychological set up where negative thoughts bring negative reality.

It’s something else. Hormones, brain chemical cycling, exhaustion from a busy weekend (or week); but definitely not bumming out over the fact that I have to return to work on Monday morning because I don’t work on Mondays.

So who knows what it is, but it definitely is.

 

This Man

I used to write a lot about my dating and sex life and it was fun. But then I became involved in a serious relationship and it felt wrong to put anything about it or him out there in public.

Our relationship is sacred to me as is his privacy.

But today, I am filled with such overwhelming love and joy that I just have to share.

MCB is kind and warm and smart and funny and creative and introspective and lovely and well mannered and generous and delightful; he makes me swoon.

Yesterday he had an event for which he had to “dress.” He excitedly pulled out a suit; this was no slouchy, cheap fabric, ill-fitting suit; this was the real deal.

Next came the crisp white shirt, beautiful dress shoes, belt with initials and a bow tie.

Yes, he ties his own bow ties.

When he used his clothes brush to remove the dog hair from his overcoat, I thought I’d died and gone to heaven.

The thing is, this is my childhood, my upbringing.

I spent so many years and so much energy resisting and rebelling against Brooks Brothers that I convinced myself that “classy” wasn’t on my list of desires in a partner. I married a blue-collar guy from a steel town who wouldn’t be caught dead in a tie or real shoes.

And I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong with that or that one is better than the other; it’s more that in my old age, I am really drawn to what is familiar; what connects me to my wonderful childhood.

And I’m not saying that how a person dresses is more important than who the person is, but even Shakespeare observed, “Apparel oft proclaims the man.”

Clothing isn’t everything, but MCB is. There is so much that is admirable and agreeable and lovable; so much that makes me smile each and every day. So much for which I am thankful. So much more than meets the eye.

But the candy that meets the eye is pretty spectacular.

The day I’ve been waiting for all of my life

Or at least as long as I have been evolved enough to appreciate the genius of David Sedaris.

I’ll admit, the first time I heard his voice on NPR, I hit scan. It was nasally and effeminate and what I perceived as a tiny bit whiney.

Then, one day I heard him talking about living in France and missing hearing English and the highlight of his day being when he tuned into NPR and heard Terry Gross say “Fresh Air,” and I was hooked.

And for all I know, it didn’t happen that way and he said he couldn’t stand Terry Gross and maybe it wasn’t even David Sedaris, but this is how it has played in out my mind over and over, so now it’s truth.

And I have no idea how I came across “Me Talk Pretty One Day” – maybe it was on the new release shelf at the library, maybe I heard Terry Gross talking about it, maybe Scott Simon. I’ll never remember, which is somewhat sad because it was a pivotal moment in my life and  I like to remember those moments that changed my existence forever.

Shit. I had a 1-year-old and a 3-year-old when it was published. I honestly can’t believe I found time to read.

But that was at the time in my life when I would announce to the entire household, “Mamma has to poo,” and then run into our tiny bathroom where I could sit on the pot and rest my head on the edge of the sink and breathe, trying to remember that I liked my family. Occasionally I did some reading in there too so that could be how I found time for Talking Pretty.

I actually hardly ever pooed

I was enjoyed it from the get-go, but when I got to the story about Easter and the Flying Bell…

Changed perspective on the world.

And, this is when I decided that I would become the Female David Sedaris.

If you have not read Jesus Shaves, you must.

I have since devoured, multiple times, every word that he has produced.  I have come to find great comfort in his snarky little voice; his brilliance has become my guiding light.

I want to live in France.

I want Hugh.

Once, I was asked to teach a writing class for teenagers. My first class was awkward, as always; angsty teenage girls (only girls, as no teenage boy would EVER sign up for a writing class, after school, for no credit) many of them homeschooled, so incredibly uncomfortable in an 8×8 room with other people, then Breakfast Club Ally Sheedy was in there as well as the two besties who wrote “fiction” about each other’s love lives.

I began the class by talking about “Voice” and finding one’s own voice in writing. I read several bits from different authors not only as examples, but as eye-openers into a world of stories that didn’t involve blood-sucking, glitter-glued vampires.

I saved my favorite for last: Jesus Shaves.

Again, a must-read. At least watch the video.

In brief, the story is about French class, in France, with people whose only thing in common was that they all had other languages as firsts and were trying to communicate in a second one about, Easter.

I won’t say anything to ruin it for you, but I will say that if someone was Jesus-sensitive, it could be a bit offensive.

Which is what I began to think, about 1/2 way through my reading, and watching the faces of the sisters-with-religious-hair go from timid smiles, to shock, to horror, to “You’re going to burn in Hell, Teacher.”

And I didn’t know what to do.

It was like that time I was waiting tables and I was really stoned and for the first time in my service career, I carried four water glasses, instead of the inconvenient three, in my diminutive hands to a table of thirsty middle-aged vacationers.  I was so excited that I began telling them about my tiny hands handicap and how it’s been plaguing me for years. Half way through that, the part of my brain that wasn’t connected to my mouth said, “Honey, they know you’re stoned. You should stop.”

But the problem was, I couldn’t. To do so would have been even more awkward that the rambling telling of the victory.

So I finished my litany and skulked away to the kitchen to do a bong hit.

And that’s how I felt with the ass-length braids staring up at me. What was I to say, “Oh my, have I offended thee?”

So I rambled on, rushing through, just to end this torturous moment. But then I got to the bit about the bell and I couldn’t contain myself. It began as a giggle and soon became a cackle, then a roar. I tried to contain it, but then snot came out of my nose, so I gave up.

Fuck the Bible Sisters. Fuck Ally Sheedy. Fuck the latent lesbians.

Fuck teenage girls.

So years later, here I am, bouncing in my seat because in just 11 hours and 7 minutes, I will be sitting in my front row seat (because I did buy the first two tickets sold) gazing adoringly, and listening raptly to this man who is my soulmate. I know, too, that he is going to look at me and think “I’ll be she’s funny – I want to be her friend. She’s probably a brilliant writer too.” and after the show, he will ask me to be pen pals so we can exchange witty observations on humanity and he will offer to introduce me to Scott Simon, then suggest that we read together on Weekend Edition, just wouldn’t that be a hoot.

I am so excited about tonight, and have been since I first heard of his appearance, that I am am actually becoming a tiny bit sad because it’s almost over.

And I have so much angst about meeting and him not having the space to really to know me until it’s too late and he’s back in his hotel room missing out. Or worse, not meeting him at all.

MyAdorablyCuteBoyfriend is a saint because he is acting very enthusiastic about this night but when I said, “You might not like him,” he responded, “I already figure that I won’t,” but he’s going with me anyway and might even wear a bow-tie.

So now I am down to 10 hours and 59 minutes and I’m thinking that I better stop writing and go scour my closet so I can find just the right attire to meet the coolest uncool man I’ll ever know.

 

Dinner Out

Yep, I’m going out to dinner with friends.

2 hours away.

In another state.

Because I can.

Because I am trying on “spontaneous,” “adventuresome,” and “friend who actually makes some effort.”

A lot has happened in my relationship world as it pertains to friendships.

First, I lost one of my very best friends. The reason why will remain unspoken. It has been painful and lonely and caused me to question not only everything about her, but more importantly, everything about me.

Then, as often happens, falling in love and creating a family together takes up quite a bit of that time that, were I single, would be spent with friends.

I’m not a keep-in-toucher, I can feel deep love for someone, and not talk to them for months or even years and pick up right where we left off.

And, I’m a loner. I have a natural tendency to blow people off so that I can be alone.

All of which leads up to a conversation with my children about MCB’s friends that went something like this, “Oh, we really like Joe, he’s super cool, but Bob…freakshow.”

Pause, wheels turning, “Mom, you don’t really have any friends.”

“Yes I do.”

No I don’t.

I mean, obviously I am friends with the people I work with and I am friends with a lot of MCB’s friends and I do have a couple of close friends here who I never see but still love, but do I have a tribe?

Not anymore.

And then…

MCB and I have a mutual friend from our pasts who we love and just moved to the area.  Lucky us.

And then…

An old old friend, a very important person in my world for a good chunk of time, who I hadn’t spoken with in years, came to visit the friend just mentioned.

And then…

I realized that I have some super important people in my life that I actually love dearly and with whom I want to maintain a connection.

So I posted a photo of these 3 men on Facebook and I received this response, “Great photo. We’re in Utah and we miss you. Come see us.”

So I am driving to Utah to see people that I love because it’s important that I have people that I love in my life.

 

 

 

Life Elevated

I have a lot of days off from work right now, many of which I have spent sleeping, eating, reading, and sleeping again.

I get panicky that I haven’t “done anything” over break so I go into a tailspin and try to cram in a bunch of activities. Then, I go into a tailspin because I am not at home, taking advantage of the alone-time and writing the Great American Novel.

In-my-head is a hard place to live.

Saturday morning I left the house to go run a few errands and see a noon movie with a friend. The plan was to return home immediately after the film so that I could have part of the afternoon at home alone.

After the movie and strolling around town and a trip to TJ Maxx, I arrived home at 6:00 pm, after my children.

So Sunday was going to be a visit to MCB at his jobsite and a hike from there, then back home to wrap up my masterpiece.

Or start it.

When I arrived at his workplace, I was offered Prime Rib for lunch (with Green Chili). Suddenly I was frozen; I was spontaneous yesterday – could I handle 2 days in a row?

But lunch sounded so good, as did a little bit of extra time with MCB.

“You can hike afterwards,” he suggested.

No, no I can’t. I can’t because I only allotted a certain amount of time away from my quiet house and if I take the time to eat, then I won’t have time to hike and still get home before I turn into a pumpkin.

I ate. I mean really, who could turn down prime rib with chili?

After lunch I stood by my truck, totally stymied. It was a beautiful day – was I really going to blow a day in the canyons because I was inflexible? Was I going to choose being an introverted, hermitish, homebody over  slickrock?

I was facing west as I pondered.

I gazed out at the horizon, steeped in indecision, and thought, “Utah is right there.”

And I jumped in the truck and drove, calling out the window, “If I’m not home by morning…”

See, I can be totally spontaneous. I can fly where the winds blow me. I can embrace adventure.

Besides, it was quiet time in the car – or almost quiet – Tchaikovsky, sun on the sandstone, blue sky forever, and I didn’t say a word to anyone for the entire trip.

I had been struggling with sadness that morning and with each step, the sadness slid off of me and I felt ecstatic.

Life Elevated.

 

Man of My Dreams

I had a total swoon moment last night.

Something I was reading reminded me of high school english and Charles Dickens.

I said, “Now there’s a book I want to reread – A Tale of Two Cities.”

His response, “It was the best of times…”

Pitter. Patter.

pros and cons of moving south

There are many of each and they all rattle around in my brain confusing the shit out of me.

Some days it seems like I could never leave here, others, it would be a piece of cake.

When I got off the plane 2 days ago, I was slightly let down; I didn’t feel that same sense of relief that normally accompanies my arrival here on The Plateau.

I missed my curls, 50 shades of green, and my mommy and daddy.

The hours back here have been riddled with uncertainty and confusion, longing and ungroundedness.

My children’s football coach is our new favorite nanny. My friend had the most beautiful baby ever last night. The leaves have turned every color orange in the spectrum. MCB is hunting for an Elk.tuleelk.bull.modcrop.2725

My life feels perfect.

In the South, I could see my folks every single day. I could swim with Manatees whenever I wanted. I could become a SUP-er and have killer abs. I could run at sea level on the sand and my back would feel brand new. I could hang out with gals I knew in my childhood days. My kids could gain residency and go to one of the really good state colleges.

Round and round. So badly that I haven’t even been able to talk about it with anyone.  Hearing others’ advice at the moment is just plain irritating to me because then I feel like whatever they think, they’re not seeing “the other side.”

I really like the idea of no more winters, no more cold, no more falling down on the ice.

But I pulled this killer orange sweater out of the closet today to wear to work and thought, “Where could I shop down there?”

gators2Seriously – my clothes are a huge part of my artistic being and I am not so sure that Navy and White (standard colors when pink and green are not in season) are that inspiring.

I could be the oddity and wear my red cowgirl boots to the beach? I could melt inside my glorious purple, fake mink evening jacket?503540190_product_1

I could try to start a new sparkle-beanie trend?

 

Or I could shop at Lilly Pulitzer.

I actually do shop there, but wearing Lilly here in the West is fun. Wearing it there is just mainstream.2-lilly-pulitzer-spring-summer-2014-collection.jpg

And I don’t know how to do mainstream.

And I don’t want to learn.

But, now that I am thinking about it, I bet I could score some outrageous vintage librarian sweaters and gingham golf pants.

Maybe, just maybe, there’s hope yet.leroy

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The wedding

Someone asked me the other day if weddings are hard for me.  I am assuming she wondered because I am a bitter-old-divorced-hag – as is she, minus the bitter, old, and hag bits.

I thought about it and realized that I go to very few weddings these days.  I think last night was number three in twice that number of years.

My response, “I don’t think so. But maybe?  I guess we’ll find out.”

I think my biggest concern going in was that I would be cynical and disparaging. I already had a bug up my ass about people who spend god only knows how much on a wedding dress that they 1) are only going to wear for a few hours, and 2) will totally trash walking around in the grass and the mud. There are starving children in Africa after all.

I spent a few hundred on mine. I was going for the simplistic homespun look and I got it.

I hated my dress.

Maybe not right in the moment, but in the years afterwards, all I could think was “Blah.”

It has now been cut up and dyed by a teenage girl who saw the potential and didn’t care that it was a wedding dress from a wedding that ended in divorce.

Back to last night…

It was stupendous. There was so much sweetness in the air, in the crowd, and yes, in the Vera Wang dress. I cried again and again, but not even once out of sadness or pity for myself. This wedding was what love is really about.

Really, the most difficult part was trying to figure out what to wear . I ended up not in the boots, not in Grandma A’s gorgeous flowered and veiled hat, and not in eggplant lace. It actually doesn’t matter what dress I donned, because I sported the best accessory there; MCB in his crisp and classic East Coast wedding attire including navy blue blazer and bow tie. I would have looked good in my bathrobe.

The bridesmaids all wore dresses and cowboy boots. Right? I was so excited to have an opportunity to roll my eyes and feel great disdain for them being so predictable but you should have seen the dresses…each one a different style and color and oh so cool. The groomsmen wore shirts that I had actually picked out in a moment of total wedding planning frenzy and let me just say – I can dress a guy.

Then Vera came down the aisle, in a huge poof of fluff and I thought, Oh, now I get it. That’s why gals spend so much money and (energy and tears) on their wedding gown. She fucking rocks.

And she totally knows it.

And she is psyched.

And I never hated my wedding dress as much as I did at that very moment.

The rest of the evening was perfect in every way.

I know the groom better than I do the bride – he and I have been friends, for many a year. Seeing him standing up there with gushiness and joy oozing out of him made me realize just how much love I feel for him.

I was so overjoyed that it took the wind right out of me.

Gratitude and humility were the overrunning themes of the evening and who could possibly ask for anything better?

It was a magnificent wedding, a magnificent couple.

And no matter what my cynical bitter self says about the likelihood of divorce, the hope to which I bore witness, made even tragically damaged me believe in happily ever after.

What to wear

I have a wedding to go to in 2 days. I want to wear my red cowboy boots:imgres

But I don’t want to be this gal:

Cow? Horse? Hunh?

Cow? Horse? Hunh?

Or this one:

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I want to be her:

ultimate cool

ultimate cool

 

But, here was a conversation that took place, just today:

“What are you wearing to the wedding?”

“I don’t know, seems like every wedding I go to, the standard uniform for the gals is dress, cowboy boots, jean jacket.”

Well, shitdamn, I don’t want to be wearing some “We think we are such cute western girls, even though we’re from Connecticut and have never stepped in actual cow shit,” uniform.

Because, I’m not that girl. Can’t be.

I’m from New Jersey.

And I am just as cool as my girl, Emmylou.

In my head.

I bought this gorgeous dress a while back, thinking it would be perfect for the wedding and it’s green which MCB really likes which makes it even more perfect. I started thinking about what I could wear on my feet that would accommodate all of the needs of the event: standing, dancing, walking on grass, all, for hours on end.

I’ll just throw on my boots – easy. Don’t need to give it another thought.

But now I do because the cliché has been noted; using an out-loud voice.

If I wear the boots and the dress, even without a jean jacket since I don’t own one, I will a) be that gal, just like every other gal there, and b) doing so with everyone knowing that I am fully aware of being the wannabe cowgirl who grew up listening to Bruce Springsteen and Tom Waits, not Ricky Skaggs and Patty Loveless.

So, maybe I could go with these:

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Or these:images-3

I am from Jersey after all.

Or, since I am an “Outdoorsy” type, perhaps these will be better:

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Or my inner athlete could go here:

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I have 45 hours to decide.

I refuse to buy anything new.

And I am convinced that whatever I chose to wear, it will steal the spotlight from the bride and in the years to come, people will look back and relive the moment they saw my ill-shoed feet instead of her Vera Wang gown.