Friends you haven’t met yet

I’ve been on staycation this week– I have ridiculous amounts of vacation that on my cruddy retail salary I can never use up and go someplace useful, and I’ve been feeling more than a little bit burnt, that whole recent wicked bad depression thing to the side.

So– I stayed home, helped the electrician find the wires in our old (1901) house’s walls, did streaming Netflix (that Stan Lee, he may be on to something with that Marvel dare I say franchise?) as I glutted myself on the BBC Sherlock Series 1 and the pre-Avengers movies (superheroes and shit blowing up YAY, although Iron Man 1 was by far my favorite), start/read/finished a whole bunch of books (George Mann’s The Affinity Bridge and The Osiris Ritual (steampunk Victorian mystery series with a smattering of romance), W.S. Merwin’s The Shadow of Sirius (poetry, oh, I love Merwin so), Jaimy Gordon’s Lord of Misrule (amazing, a little hard to slog through until you get into it, but the voices and the world that she builds, it’s like McCarthy’s The Road in the challenge it presents to the reader but it’s so very rewarding), dipped some more into The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis (the perfect bedside book, really, because it’s big and yet the stories tend to be very short), and discovered a poet called William Matthews via The Writer’s Almanac, whose Selected Poems I downloaded onto my Nook (his poems are taking my breath away, daily.)  Then, I totally wallowed in Naomi Novik’s Temeraire series through #4, because you’ve got to have a little Napoleonic naval captain and his sentient, literate dragon fantasy-action-adventure to break up all that serious reading.

I also saw The Artist.  If you don’t see any other Oscar-nominated movie, see this one.  There’s a dog, who does all the silent movie dog things to utter perfection.  And James Cromwell.  (Worth the price of admission alone.)  And John Goodman.  (Also worth the price of the ticket.)  But oh.  Oh.  The main actors.  And the story.  The silent movie paean, while still being utterly modern.  It’s just– everything that they say and more.

Yesterday, I met up with Jen from Knitting Interrupted.  I’ve been meaning to meet up with Jen for, oh, I don’t know, I’d say … forever.  She lives about a three hour drive from my house and so it’s long enough to give serious pause– and she’s got two boys, so her making the haul up to my place is even more of an issue.  But.  She’s moving to Florida, so there, that was it.  The fire under my butt to drive the six hour round trip to see her.  Because the thing with this blog thing is– we’re all friends who just haven’t met yet, and I’ve known Jen practically since the start of my blogging, back when I used to do this more regularly and was funnier, cooked more, whined a lot less, and was better about minding blog etiquette, including visiting commenters’ blogs, commenting back, responding to comments– you know.  Blog 1.0 stuff, not to drive traffic, but just because it’s simple good manners.  I need to do more of that.

It was an awesome visit, not in the least because her precocious boys treated me like a visiting anthropologist and needed to show me Everything That They Do during their homeschooling day, at least until her oldest got bored with me until he wasn’t.  : )  I’ve yet to meet someone I’ve known through this blog (or, with a few I-knew-it-would-be-like-that-in-advance exceptions in my online dorky fandom adventures) who hasn’t been someone with whom I could just sit down and say– “Yeah.  This is cool.  You’re even more you than I already thought you would be.”

We talked of many things (though not ships, shoes, sealing wax, cabbages or kings), including the ups and downs of blogs, the proliferation of content delivery means (FB, G+, Twitter, Tumblr, blogs, Livejournal) and how it can all just get overwhelming in terms of what to keep up with and the decision of how much information about yourself to put out there.  We talked about self-editing when we post, the desire to be fair, and the fact that the Internet Contains All Useful Things, so the pedagogy about memorization and rote knowledge is something that maybe educators should question– though I do love, love my books, not just my Nook (which is bright and shiny and awesome and lets me carry more books than I can ever read in a week in my bag), and there’s a secret part of me that believes in belts and suspenders and lives in fear of the Zombie apocalypse and eyes the Storey’s Country Skills and other books of that ilk at work with booklust bordering on weirdness.  (What?  I don’t eye the back corner of my Dad’s yard and think CHICKENS and then check the zoning laws.  I totally don’t.)  I mentioned how I’ve been mulling over this interesting NYT article in terms of my own FB feed and trying to decide how to use my G+ feed, since I don’t, really, and I don’t Tweet or Tumble at all and have no desire to, and the “ham sandwich” posts on FB?  IDK.  I need to condense stuff, figure out what I really want to say, and not Use All The Platforms just because they’re there.  I need to figure out who I want in my FB, whether to link my blog there, rethink my “anonymity” here, where I backlink this blog.  I need to prioritize my content.  God, that sounds fucking pretentious.  But isn’t winnowing one’s online accounts an extension of life, deciding what levels you want to engage your relationships on?  And then doing it, because that’s the hard part…

We talked about our various life changes, the universe, everything.  It was great, and far too short a visit, considering that I’d have to brave traffic on the way home– but also because I was starting to feel a little aaah these kids are really adorable but boy they want a lot of interaction Jen is a HERO gee I really love Jen a lot this is a great conversation I kind of really need to leave now and process all of this input before I explode.  I wish like hell I hadn’t put my visit off for so long.

On the ride home, in the rain, as I listened to Florence and the Machine’s Ceremonials, Foo Fighters’ Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace, then flipped radio channels and waited to see what the radio gods sent me (I do love it when they send Diana Ross)– I mulled over the theme I’ve been thinking about a lot recently– denial and self-denial, even when there’s no reason for it.  Those emotions/coping skills are separate from fear/anxiety and attendant procrastination, though I’ve also got those in spades.  But it brought up the question, one I wrote down on an index card and posted on a corkboard I have on my wall, along with other things I try to look at and inspire myself with (including a nifty, nifty Dalek washcloth Jen knitted for me). 

What are you waiting for?

I’ve been writing here about how I’ve felt lonely– that’s no one’s fault but my own.  I have lovely friends– all of you, and in real life, and I do socialize, do make appointments so I get the hell out of the house and out of my head.  I need to make more friends, however, single ones I don’t know from work or from my marriage, because in the end, I’ve got to re-learn how to put myself out there.  It’s been a long time since I’ve been on my own, without any buffer.  My edges are raw.  I have no pretensions that it won’t be anything but painful and awkward, and that sometimes I’ll have to shoot someone an email (or a blog post) after that says “It’s not you, it’s me.”  (Oh, HAI, Jen.)  I am someone who takes a long time to open up for all that I blah blah blah here– but these posts, too, are carefully crafted, and I do leave things unsaid.  (Yeah, hard to believe.)

I can be anxious and twitchy when meeting new people, even ones I’ve known online for years.  I get overwhelmed in large groups pretty easily, and whether that’s a cognitive thing or a function of shyness or my anxiety, well, I don’t know.  I just know I need buffers, sometimes.  When my brother-in-law used to hold his big Thanksgiving turkey fry-up, I’d go hide in the kitchen and carve up the turkeys because that gave me something on which I could focus– and I only then had to make small talk with the few people who could fit around the carving board, so– whittling down my options to something I could handle.  My husband is charming and funny, able to make small talk with just about anyone, and able to draw me into the conversation with what I always felt (and still feel) was overly effusive praise of my merits.  I’m not all that sterling, and his praise of me always made me feel squirmy because my self-esteem issues aside, I’m just not that awesome.  Still, though.  Going to events with him was far easier than going alone.

One of my favorite authors is Haven Kimmel– and she wrote a book called The Solace of Leaving Early, in which the main character, who’s had a breakdown, (crankily) falls in love with another misfit.  I don’t recall the exact passage and whether she’s trying to explain it to someone or just recollecting some time– but there’s this pitch-perfect bit about leaving while the getting is good and she, the shy person, is still feeling engaged, even though the evening/event isn’t nearly over.

I’m going to find that passage and write it on the Corkboard of Inspirational Stuff, because next week I’m going to my first support group meeting for divorced and separated people and I am terrified, even as I inwardly snark that it’s AA-Divorce.  I bookmarked social groups for single women looking to make friends, single and divorced loser ladies, my self esteem says, but.  Baby steps.  I will eventually try them out.  I will.  Really.

If the meeting gets overwhelming, I can leave early.  But at least I’ll have gone.  And who knows?  Maybe it won’t.  Either way, I can try.  I can leave early.  I can always go back.  But I won’t meet the friends that might be there if I don’t go.

What are you waiting for?

It’s time to find out.


2 thoughts on “Friends you haven’t met yet

  1. Jen in CT

    Hah! Treating you like a visiting anthropologist is the perfect description of how they acted yesterday! This is the sweetest post, and, as usual, just perfect. I’m so glad we got the chance to meet each other IRL yesterday, even though the visit was far too short (although my kids (any kids really) are a lot to take, so I can totally dig you having to skedaddle on out of here when you did), I was so happy that you made the trek down and braved Connecticut drivers and the anxiety of meeting someone face to face and the conversational ministrations of my 6 y/o (No honey, I’m pretty sure she doesn’t want to see your room.) all of that. I am just so so glad you came. ❤

    And don't think I haven't fantasized about having a chicken coop on our deck even though it goes against condo rules.

  2. Jenn @ Juggling Life

    I just downloaded a Haven Kimmel book this morning. Twilight Zone of you to bring her name up today.

    My husband–not too shy, but definitely an introvert–always leaves parties early. I don’t mind at all, and our friends recognize that 10 p.m. ish is almost always his limit.

    One really wonderful thing about getting older is that you know yourself so well that you can do a better job of getting what you NEED out of life.

    I do hope we can get the chance to meet someday.


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