the sensitive curmudgeon’s guide to one-off friendships

mom-friendsI’ve always felt like I was born without a certain social chip. Let’s call it the “Steel Magnolias” chip. I mean, sure, my eyes have been known to glaze over when looking at a $700 pair of shoes, but what you didn’t see was the girl-power chant I was incanting in my head and the deep slumber I fell into for weeks afterwards from having exhausted my limited powers.

Pregnancy, for a time, buoyed me into an orbit that I had previously only gazed at longingly as though through a department store window. I could finally communicate with women! I cried for no reason! I even started up-talking. 

Five months post-partum, I still have a few new “mom” hormones, but I’m mostly back to being my old self, with all my old problems and also a new one–

Being a stay-at-home mom can even be isolating for me. So, I subscribed to the local mom’s listserv that is quite active and another stay-at-home mom sent around an invitation to meet up. Our daughters are two months apart and she seemed friendly and open. We played text tag for a week or two trying to sync up.

During that time, I Facebooked her.

The first thing I noticed were her Crazy Eyes™–but crazy in itself is hardly a deal breaker for me (glass houses, etc.). Then I noticed that she disabled adding her as a friend–red flag. But again, not a deal breaker. There are plausible explanations (I imagine). Then I scrolled down further.

“Baby,” I whispered hoarsely to my husband. “Her husband is wearing a cape.” I closed my laptop and sulked at him, wearily. “I can’t do this.”

“Baby, you’re setting your bar too high.” He countered.

“No I’m not! I can’t do it. How can I do it?”

“So what…you’re just not going to do it?”

(long beat)

“Fine. I’ll do it. I’ll do it.”

So we met up for a walk one afternoon, and talked for forty-five minutes or an hour. She watches Girls and I didn’t get her Girls reference. (I actually hate Girls.) But so what? We both voted for Bernie this primary but for Hillary in ’08. She said she would cut off her little finger to make Hillary president. I agreed pending the conditions I was heavily anesthetized and it would be reattached immediately, and she allowed me those conditions. There were some things really stressing me out that day and I likely over-shared for a first encounter, but I don’t really worry about that kind of thing because it tends to sort itself out.

It seemed like she got a bit weird towards the end, though. I was just a few blocks from my house when she announced she had to get home because it was about to rain. I offered to walk a few blocks in the other direction with her to the edge of my neighborhood, and once we got there, I was waiting to cross the street to go home and she suddenly announced she had to go grocery shopping in a totally different direction from her house–weird, but again, no biggy. Maybe she had just remembered something she had to get.

I got home, put my daughter down for her nap and texted her that it was great meeting her and I’d love to go for another walk next week or so. She texted back, “Yes, let’s definitely go for a walk soon!” Wait, wait, record scratch–I once blogged during my dating days about how “definitely” means “never” (which I stand by).

I never saw her again. In the old days, when I was used to losing the few friends I had when we moved to place to place as a kid, or as I then moved place to place as an adult, I would have been devastated. My world was either kept small for me or I kept it small, and I struggled to make the people right in front of me work out. Perhaps since I felt disconnected from everyone, anyone would do. Or perhaps the fear of rejection and the exhaustion of new social encounters simply kept me with people I didn’t connect with to the point I began to believe that I couldn’t connect with anyone.

Then, the next week, I met a woman I genuinely liked. And I realized I did things differently. I made sure not to overshare this time. Not because of any lesson learned from the previous encounter, but because I actually wanted to be friends with her so I was thinking about it.

Which made me realize–maybe the other woman was being really weird at the end. But maybe I had also over-shared on purpose. And maybe, when you’re a stay-at-home writer who mostly talks to her husband, going for a walk and letting off some steam with someone you’ll never see again is perfectly okay.

getting to work

Here I am, 2017. It’s time to write. Tiiiiiime to write. Tiiiiiiiiiimeeee to wriiiiiiiiite.

How does one write a novel, again? Whatever the answer is, it is apparently so daunting that I have spent the better part of three years not doing  it. And then the better part of the past three weeks of family vacation waiting until vacation is over to start doing it.

After three years of not writing my novel, I have amassed a misfortune in disparate computer files and handwritten paragraphs in what seems like thousands of near-empty Moleskine journals (haha! no, just six.) that I have no idea how or where or when or if to incorporate at this point. So I made the decision last week to not look at any of them again until I have a complete first draft.

I also have two or three fairly polished chapters from a writing workshop two years ago, back when I was still more concerned with getting affirmation than getting the hard work done (in front of near strangers? no thanks!). I don’t take writing workshops anymore, and I’m coming more and more to terms with how bad a first draft is truly allowed to be. And I think the answer is, really, really bad.

When I started this blog, the tagline I wrote for it was, “blogging from ground zero of my e-publishing experiment”. Then I chose a layout that doesn’t have a tagline. But that’s a main reason I started blogging again–to chronicle my journey from here to there. The writing, the business of it, what I would already have done differently–while daunting to set out in the dark on a brand new voyage, I think it’s what keeps me feeling young. I just had a birthday, and I can safely say I felt older 10 years ago than I feel right now. I think feeling old is, to some extent, a rise-over-run consideration. And maybe also a little bit about frequency of doctor visits–so now that I’m not pregnant anymore, I expect to have a windfall year by the latter metric (that is, short of an imminent and epic failure of birth control).

Aside from seeking to perfect things that will probably have to be trashed, anyway, or at least completely rewritten, another one of my biggest pitfalls is biting off more than I can chew, overdoing it, getting discouraged, and then quitting. I’ve done this my entire life with basically anything that this pattern can apply itself to. So, of course, I initially decided upon the really arbitrary yet ambitious goal of writing 10,000 words in January. That sounds awesome, right? That also sounds like more than I’ve written in the last three years, combined!

Plus, it’s already January 7, and I don’t plan on writing anything until Monday.

So today I’m setting a goal for myself for January of 5000 words. If I only write on the weekdays left in the month, that’s just under 300 words a day. Reasonable, but still moderately ambitious right out of the gate. I’m working on it.

 

success, humo(u)r, and popularity

successhumourpopularity

I’ve always been a sucker for a good fortune cookie. And not always exclusively in the, “Science is everything but I am indulging in the talismans of the folk people for some unrefined amusement” kind of way I pass it off to my husband, either (he doesn’t believe me, anyway).

It’s mostly just fun, but I also find it useful–particularly when it comes to times like this, the end of the year where we take stock and set intentions for the year to come. I already know my intention for 2017–I’m going to write my first novel, and no fortune cookie, Facebook quiz or horoscope is going to tell me otherwise.

So when this particular game of fortune was circulating about a week ago, I eagerly found my own three words for the New Year–success, humour and popularity.

Popularity! I am certainly a great many things (or at least a few) but popular has never been one of them!

So then I promptly wrote something self-deprecating about how the idea of me being popular was already humorous and posted it to Facebook. I might as well have put a knife in my eye. Forty-five minutes later, I had not received one single like or comment so I deleted the post, because there’s probably nothing worse than hanging yourself out in the barren winds of a sentiment like “hahaha I’m so unpopular! amiright?” and then having everyone ignore you. Probably.

And once I thought about it, I realized I’ve actually done just fine socially throughout my life whenever I’ve actually left my home and not immediately hated everyone (which are, I can admit to you here, relatively exhaustive constraints).

(Also, I just discovered that posting anything on social media after 8 PM on a Saturday is the worst possible time all week–unless, I suppose, it’s something you decide you want to delete after forty-five minutes.)

So here’s to 2017 and all of the success, humor, and popularity that wants to find me along the way. Maybe I can even work on not being so self-deprecating while I’m at it (PS this is why I like fortune cookies).

this is why i can’t have any friends.

I’m so tired of being harassed since the nightmare of our US election. People have been losing their shit with me because I think things like, if three different states show via recount that they all voted for the wrong candidate, I will go from sad to suicidal. Or if the electoral college denies the vote of Trump supporters, who clearly won by the rules of the election, I will go from sad to suicidal.

One woman who I’ve been blog-friends with for 8 years, to the extent that that is a thing (okay, a-ha moment, it is not a thing!),  straight up called me a KKK apologist, and a woman who I personally know lost her shit with me, personally, because I called her idea that the electoral college was somehow going to elect Mitt Romney to the presidency an elitist conspiracy theory (and from what I just read, it’s John Kasich, anyway).

I think that I’ve always been drawn to liberalism, in part, because as a child I thought “liberal” meant “open-minded”.  But if liberal means what I have felt compelled to become in the past few weeks, it means being an unfollowing-you, unfriending-you sack of intolerance for your intolerance.

And besides, social media is a bizarre and doomed experiment in which we track the lives of people we barely know in lieu of investing more fully in our own–perhaps because we are all ultimately sad and pathetic and doomed to death (and in these ways, probably no different than anyone else before social media or after).

But until whichever doomsday comes first, I have fled here, where I can write whatever I want and moderate the comments. I plan to blog a lot about writing–I’m writing the first draft of a dystopian fiction novel and I might even post some excerpts here to get some feedback. I’m also a stay-at-home mom of a new-to-the-Earth tiny human. I like to cook. I like to read. I’m married. Sometimes I’m a smashing success and sometimes I’m a total disaster at anything and everything I ever try to do. So, I’m really just going to blog about whatever the f*** I want.

The only thing I promise not to blog about is how you need to think, feel or talk about anything. I offer my opinions as food for thought, with my own struggling awareness that I don’t actually know everything. In turn, all opinions are welcome here, except the opinion that I’d see things your way if only I were as enlightened as you are.