My drug of choice is writing––writing, art, reading, inspiration, books, creativity, process, craft, blogging, grammar, linguistics, and did I mention writing?

Monday, October 7, 2013

An Introvert's Birthday

This cake is just not ON FIRE enough to represent my age.
Photo by Omar Wazir
The only problem with the idea of me doing more "personal updates" is that, generally speaking, nothing fucking happens in my life.  I go to work.  I teach kids and second language speakers how to fix comma splices.  I clean the house.  I read. I write.  That's about it most of the time, and as much as I complain about the deplorable lack of group sex, that breakneck pace is really by design.  My life is fairly boring on the outside; all the good shit is going on between my ears.  I'm pretty sure you guys don't want to know how much I'm enjoying the next Vorkorsigan novel that I picked up because of last year's best series poll or that I have a nifty idea for a spiritual journey story about Burning Man.  So I'm sitting here and even though I had a birthday on September 29th--my thirty coughcoughth--I feel like I don't have that much to share.

I mean there was a professional massage paid for by Supportive Girlfriend.  (Actually, I visited the friend/masseuse that I mentioned in this post at his uberswanktacular new digs at Burke Williams) And there was Dim Sum.  And there were peeps who are awesome but I don't see nearly enough and discussions of science fiction.  And there were leg accentuating ensembles worn for my benefit that put me in the awkward position of balancing "guilt free license to look" against the horror of the pig that lies just beneath the surface of my calm veneer.  There was hollandaise.  (Though there was not hollandaise Dim Sum.  Hmmmmm.....) And I managed to go over 1000 "likes" on my Facebook page. And pretty much unless I'd gotten a knock at my door on Sunday night from two blisteringly cute groupies wearing knee pads and lobster bibs, it was about as good as it could be.

But I didn't once catch my reflection in the mirror and think, "By God, something has to change!" or have a poignant moment with my ex-wife that reminds me how fleeting love can be.  I didn't stand atop a man made structure of great height and vow to be better.  Other than some totally not-surprising news about Princess Mononoke's kidney function (first stage of kidney disease) that kind of kicked me in the crotch despite knowing it was coming since last year, it was from a life-development point of view, a week much like any other.

Just with more steam pork buns.

So when, as is often the case, I face Mondays down without much in the way of exciting events or life-trajectory-altering thoughts, we may have to settle for some simple introductions.  Don't worry, though. Whether it's my past affiliation with radical Islam, my struggle with addiction, or my "alternate lifestyle," I'm just full of surprises.  Of course in today's case, I'll be doing an introduction post about why I don't have enough going on, which directly facilitates the need for introduction posts.

The reason two meals out and a massage sounds pretty whirlwind to me is that, like most writers, I don't get out much.

Writers each have different reasons for their particular brand of cave-ridden statuses, so I'm going to try to avoid generalizations like "all writers are awkward around people" or typical bullshit like that.  Some writers take their uncanny perception of people around them and use that knowledge to navigate the slipstream of social interactions with a preternatural grace.  Some are extroverts torn by their love of a solitary activity and their love of being around people.  Some writers even haunt literary events and manage to turn them into a robust social life.  But most writers can give an agoraphobe a run for their money when it comes to their social lives.

In my case it's only partially true that I'm almost always writing in my free time.  I am also a huge introvert.


Bigger than most people--even people in my life--can quite wrap their heads around.

If you've hung around on Facebook, you probably have seen various introvert articles: "Caring for your Introvert."  "Ten things people don't understand about introverts."  "I Don't Actually Hate You, Brah--I'm Just an Introvert." And of course "Don't Hold Me Responsible For My Lack of Social Skills Since I'm an Introvert."  There have actually been so many that extroverts have gotten jealous and put out a couple about how--guess what--they are sometimes awkward too, and there have even a few dismissing the whole continuum for just people being human because you know if you're average, then everyone else must be making their extremes up.

Once we had our own memes,
we had basically arrived.
Projection is so awesome.

But I'm actually glad that all those articles are out there--even the cranky ones that insist that all extroverts an introverts just need to get over themselves and their speshul snowflake labels.  At least all the kerfuffle means that people are more likely to understand.  Five years ago and certainly ten, most people would have thought that introvert was synonymous with shy.  They would have tried to break me out of "my shell."  And folks in my life would casually wonder if I was some knife collecting misanthrope or something.  Though I can be shy around new people, I actually really like the company of peeps--in small, measured doses.  (I LOVE small groups!!)  I've been happy to see introverts get some air time because the visibility means folks don't try to change me as often, and when I make a choice between being social and then being tapped for a few hours and using that energy to do some writing, they are less likely to take it personally.

Social interaction drains me.  It invigorates some people, and many many others can take it to a point and then they've had enough, but for me I'm very far along the continuum, and I always have been.  A couple of hours with people in a social context and I feel like I need to curl up with a good book, a cat, and maybe a nap for the rest of the day.  (I knew I was going to be hitting this life thing from a strange angle the day my step-dad bought us McDonalds and rented Robocop for Thanksgiving dinner; I thought that was so awesome, I asked every year if we could do it again.)  I am most comfortable at home--letting my mind skim across the paper of some adventure in my head.  My batteries recharge when I am alone--or with peeps so close that I can be completely myself with them.

Socially drained isn't just a compartmentalized social axis with me, though.  If I'm worn out from being around too many people, I'm not likely to be able to fire up my creative engines and write either.  I just want to....recover.  So, for me, every social interaction is a trade off with potentially productive writing time.  And that means I tend to choose to stay in and get some work done a lot.

So that's why my birthday would bore most people to tears, even though I thought it was a little too much.  And that's why there are going to be a lot of weeks where personal updates here might have the feel of, "Nothing happened this week.  Uh....have I...um....mentioned that I used to juggle geese?"

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