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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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.

 

Roget

roget

I love him.

Backstory: I’ve been in a foul humor lately and trying to figure out some things in my life because I need some changes. Something bigger than the dead friend’s dog. Bigger than finding 8 eggs in the henhouse instead of 2, and bigger than sitting on my ass and not running for the last month.

I know, hard to beat.

So I started picking through all of the things in my life that make me feel bad about myself, of which there are many, and many of them can’t be changed overnight, if ever, and tried to come up with one thing I could do that might bring in a little light.

One particular area which offers many opportunities for self-flagellation is the fact that I am not using my god given gift of writing except to entertain myself every once in a while. I’ve completely fizzled out into the land of writers who have either been blocked or just plain given up.

First step, start some consistency in the journal.  Next step, pick up the pace with the blog. After that, start being regular with my 11-year-old column. Then, find some freelance work. Segue into pushing the comfort zone with submissions.

And yes, this is all feeling good.  It’s kind of the bright spot of my day when I can create a blog post or respond to an editing gig.

And then today, I came home sick, and I actually do feel like shit, but I’m also excited to be at home writing rather than at work doing data entry, which is what I was working on when my head started to hurt, and I sat down to write and I needed a word and instead of going to Dictionary.com, I actually ran upstairs and got my friend Roget, who has been sitting on the shelf, ignored, for over a year now.

And even after all of this time, he is still speaking to me.

And as I grabbed him off the shelf, “The Glamour of Grammar” called out to me in her compelling voice, so she came down to the kitchen with me too, and here the three of us sit, getting reacquainted, and I realize that, in this particular arena of change, by inviting my old friends to sit down at the table, I’m on my way back.

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.

 

au·di·o·book

ˈôdēōˌbo͝ok/

noun

  1. an audiocassette or CD recording of a reading of a book, typically a novel.

 

No, I haven’t just discovered audiobooks per se. I’ve been listening to them for years; small children, road trips, concussions – plenty of times when listening to someone else reading a story is just the best.

What I have recently figured out is just how perfect they are for running.

I have actually struggled a bit with the idea of listening to music while running.  I always thought myself to be more “pure” than that – believing that listening to the wind in the ponderosa placed me on an elevated spiritual and intellectual level.

Then I got an iPod because I am weak (on every level) and have had moments during which listening to Pearl Jam Ten sends me blasting through the trees at the speed of light, oblivious of the pain in my foot, knee, hip, back, shoulder, hand, and neck.

But it’s short-lived – the change in tempo from one song to the next brings me crashing back to reality and allows me the mental space to realize that I can barely breathe.

Recently, I’ve been mixing it up – some days with music, some without. My feelings about it have been mixed also.

And then, yesterday, I had this flash of brilliance…

What about listening to a book while I run?

Left the office, raced to the library, picked out a few books, including one that I always wanted to read but couldn’t get past trying to mentally pronounce the dialect.

Raced back to work, burned all of the books into my Library, synched it all with my iPod, and at the end of the day, raced out to the trailhead.

It was fucking divine.

Of course I chose the challenging one.  Read by the author. He know how to pronounce everything. When he calls his girlfriend “Mammi” it sounds bario-cool.  When I said it in my mind, the character had an oedipal complex.

I ran. I remained evenly paced. I got (mentally) lost. I was completely absorbed in the story.

But not so lost that I couldn’t appreciate the sunlight through the trees.

A book and nature seem aesthetically compatible in ways that any music beyond classical violin and nature doesn’t.

I run to give myself a break from reality. I read as an escape. The two together brought so much peace and quiet to my brain.

For a little while afterwards, I felt that I was still stuck somewhere in Santo Domingo. I had a little bit of trouble grounding back in MT.

It was absolutely delicious.

I am going to get online this weekend and start downloading books and run myself right around the world.

Run, Darlin’, Run.

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