Aside

Talking to Strangers

I’ve spent the last few days mostly alone while my guy DJ’s on Miami. While I miss having him around, I also have enjoyed the solo time.

For example, today I was aptly un-entertained enough to discover I’ve finally grown my hair out enough to have a for-real ponytail again! (This picture was me showing of my just barely visibly legitimate pony to my husband via text.)

ponytail

But once that little adventure was complete, I got it together enough to go out and do some shopping (my niece had to bail on prom shopping due to lack of parental consent). I found, as I have before, that I love my solitude when I’m out among strangers. I’m an introvert of sorts by nature, but the common misconception about introverts is that we don’t like to socialize or be out with people. The reality is that we just need to be able to get away and recharge on our own. A lot of interaction sort of sucks the life out of us after a while. (Business mingling, I’m reasonably certain, is the thing that will ultimately lead to my undoing. I’ll be reserving my room at the local mental health facility soon.)

So the observer role, for me, can be pretty valuable. I never feel as though I’m lonely when I’m alone in that way. I feel both connected and entirely separate from the people around me. I get to choose which interactions I want to be part of, and which I want to avoid. I can live in my own mind without interruption without being isolated. What are their stories? What are they thinking? What brought them here? Where are they going? How are we similar or different?

It’s only when I’m feeling – or actually – isolated that I am lonely. Being home alone for more than 24 hours is like that. I love the quiet, I love the solitude, I love the independence (probably more than anything)…until I don’t. Then I begin to feel lonely and restless.

So that’s when I enjoy talking to strangers, despite my oh-so-introvertedness. when I’m out doing whatever I’m doing.

Today I talked to an Israeli man, an adorable cashier at Express, a homeless woman outside the grocery store, a very cool massage therapist, and a pilot standing in line at Starbucks.

Now it’s dark in my bedroom, I’m listening to Boyce Avenue on Pandora, and I have two dogs taking up the space (and more) that my guy usually occupies. And I’m a little lonely.

But tomorrow’s another day for talking to strangers.

 

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With Fingers Bleeding

In case you haven’t noticed, I like to think of myself as a writer. Perhaps a wannabe writer, but a writer of some kind nonetheless. The first thing I remember writing was a story in 2nd grade about a pony (Yeah, I know – ground-breaking stuff.) for which I won first place prize in whatever it was. Then it was a “children’s” book in 6th grade in which both main characters died at the end.

After that I started on a story wherein my friends (and some people who didn’t want to be my friends anymore) and I were in a band together, and once again someone was on the verge of dying. I never did finish it.

In 8th grade I had to do an essay answering the question, “Do you believe in ghosts,” which my mom said gave her goose bumps. (And, no, I’m not dumb enough to think my mom’s opinion is one I can fully trust. She’s obviously biased when it comes to her incredible people-creations.) Then I hit high school and started taking journalism. I won two first place awards in two consecutive years for pieces I wrote on site in the Editorial category.

Today most of my writing is for work or messages between friends, but I’m also in my third or fourth year of trying to write a novel. I should say I’m trying to finish it. That shit is hard, and I hate it when authors write great books and then just crap out at the end ala Hunger Games.

All that to say that I’ve been remiss in writing as regularly as I’d like on this blog, and with as much passion as I have for writing, I’ve been marinating on why I’ve been such a flake. I figured out that it’s because I actually think I might have a reader or two, whom I’d like to keep, and a lot of things I want to write about tend to be a bit broody. I’m a brooder – albeit probably the most bubbly, gregarious brooder on the planet – and who wants to constantly read depressing, deep, dark, or uncomfortable stuff, right? It’s much more fun to read light, funny, quippy pieces that have Joss Whedon-like wise-cracking dialogue.

Even I think so.

But here’s the thing: I started a blog for me. To have a place to come and sit down at my keyboard and bleed. To channel my inner Ernest Hemingway or simply word vomit until I’m temporarily empty again. There’s nothing more enticing to me than a blank page. It’s like life. You start with nothing, you learn some things, and then you make some choices, and then people are there, and things are happening, and conflict arises, struggles occur, and soon you have a story – comedy, tragedy, mystery, fantasy, erotica, news, editorials, human interest pieces, satire, poetry, love letters, hate mail, journals…you start with an empty white space, and you end with pieces of life in print.

I’d imagine any artists feels the same way about their craft, but in place of oil or clay I have paper, pen, keyboard.

And while my craft may seem straightforward, it’s not any easier to interpret than Michelangelo’s David or Monet’s many takes on Water Lilies and Haystacks. My voice, my intent, my tone, my heart, my true story…we writers all face the same challenges as other artists – how do we inject all of our heart into our work in such a way that it touches people?

Perhaps that is why I struggle to write for RPS(LS). I seek to evoke emotion, yet I also seek to create connection, and that’s not as easy a thing to do when I’m not a crowd pleaser by nature. And I’m also an Aries, horns and hard head included, so I won’t become one.

So, my dearest reader(s?), as I said on the beginning of this journey: you’ll get what you get. And you’ll get a lot of it. So forgive my pigheaded stubbornness, forgive my need to bleed from fingers and little black-and-white keys for all the world to see. But challenge yourself to walk away not with my tone and mood as your own, but with your OWN interpretation.

And know that I blog on prom dress shopping with my oldest nieces is likely forthcoming, and thus guarantees at least a few laughs.

I’m Not Saying I’m One of the Avengers…

…I’m just saying no one has ever seen me and any of the Avengers in the same room together. (Except that one time at Comicon, but those were all fakes.)

If you haven’t already closed this page, you’re probably thinking, “Where the hell is this going?” I’ll tell you.

It’s going two places: First – I really love superheroes (and I’m especially partial to the Avengers – I love Captain America), and I wish I could be one, and second – their disguises got me thinking about how much I like to have an excuse to dress up, which in turn made me think about costumes and masks, and that started me down the path of reflecting on all the ways people hide themselves. (Can you follow that train of thought? I’m sorry you have to try and figure it out – just imagine what it’s like on the inside of my head.)

Like most women I have a long memory for certain events, and like most introverts I live in my head a lot and randomly ruminate on whatever gets into my brain at any particular time.

Recently my mind turned to a friend I grew up with. This person isn’t really a friend anymore but still pretends to be when it’s convenient. And while this does hurt on some level, I’m a different person than I was 20 years ago (thankfully!) and instead of investing my time in emotion I tend to invest my time in logic and Understanding The Why.

In this case I’m still working on The Why – I can only assume this person is a user of people, and as a user of people I imagine you have to keep lying and keep using because eventually everyone catches on and the only way to keep people in your life and serving whatever purpose you have for them is to keep wearing a mask, and changing the mask as you need to.

But there are other masks – the ones we wear to be someone specific in different settings.  Who we are at work, at home, with friends, with strangers, with your spouse or lover.  And in all those cases we do it for the same reasons as superheroes and villains: To appear as a hero, a victim, the sidekick, a villain, or even a supporting  character or extra.

This is why Captain America is my favorite. He wears a mask, but everyone knows who he is and he is always the same guy. Some people might think he’s boring or predictable. And maybe he is.  But what’s wrong with being a consistently courageous, kind, honorable, and honest person?

I would love that kind of predictability. (In people, not in life. I find I like routine until I’m restless. Then I like spontenaity, until I get tired. Then I like routine…)

But it’s rare that you get predictability in people, or even in yourself. Because we are so trained to wear our masks and be who we think we should be, or who people want us to be. I resist my masks. I resent them sometimes.

There are days when a physical weight comes with putting them on, and I’m suffocated in my heart from trying to let my should breathe through the stifling protection they offer.

And yet I wear them.