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Posts from February 2015




Funny title: "My Social Life." It implies something, but there's nothing beyond the implication. Initially when that phrase came to mind, I was thinking about my romantic social life, but upon further reflection, I realized that sloth has settled into all of my interactions. It's winter. It's self boredom. Hence, it's my non-existent social life.


Looking past the winter, though, I wonder if the scene has already been set for more of the same non-ness into the future. Once there have been a certain number of repetitions of your most exciting stories to diverse people, the whole Gosh, I'm an interesting person mode wears off and you feel yourself becoming as charmless as a charm bracelet. There are just so many times that you can meet new people before you lose your lustre, and your assumption that you and your stories have lustre, which is why it is so critical to establish strong friendships, romantic and otherwise, when you're young and deep in the process of living those stories, and being thrilled by them, and the possibilities ahead. That is in contrast to the midlife now, when those stories have become a part of your history and the recollection of them feels as draining as if you were required to relive them as you tell them, embellishments and all.


Sometime this summer I popped my head out at the possibilities of social interactions, but after a bit of dabbling, I popped back into my tortoise existence. There's no getting around the reality that it's as hard to feign interest in yourself as in whoever happens to stride or sit beside you. Alas, my social life has given in to the pull of the cynic's couch, a darn strong pull, especially in winter. Or perhaps I need to realize that the people, like me, who are looking to expand their social horizons and fill their empty hours as I do are not the people who captivate a crowd. Perhaps I need to accept my social reality, and stop assuming that there is more to me than the people who are reflected back to me. Perhaps, too, I need to stop looking, still, to be impressed, and learn to better base my interpretations on warmth and kindness. People as soup; unfortunately, I'm not a soup person. Stew, I am a stew person, and there, too, is comfort, stability, and trust.


Where do I go from this point of unsteady acceptance of disappointment? Will it transition into a steady acceptance of self and life, and the joys that are contained within simplicity? For isn't that point the truest assertion of who I am, and not who I thought I might become. Alas, I fear that I must acknowledge that perhaps there never will be a peaceful sitting down to stew; rather, there will always that misplaced herb that conjures an alternative, unsettling and fiery, an alternative me that counts even if only because it refuses to mute away into my history.


I am as much me as my trepidations, distillations, and acceptances. Disappointment as a function of existence, of taking the next step, of meeting the next person. Is it possible to be satisfied with dissatisfaction? Will I always whine?


Or is it that I will continue to find purpose and joy in plundering my emotional landscape and I need to face up to that. Is this my truth as much as an embossed business card. Am I to be wary and wavering, not because it is a step toward something, but because this is as much me as my morning coffee (freshly ground, French press, hot milk, in the mug my daughters bought one Mother's Day). Am I to stop complaining about being a tortoise, and instead laugh at the absurdity of thinking I should be other; as if, at 53, I really think there's a better way to be doing this than how I'm doing it. 





I had to escape my cold house. When I turn the heater to higher than 58, it turns on the auxiliary heater and since I fear a system stoppage or breakdown, I leave it there, at least until the outside temperature rises above freezing, which may be some time this weekend. My hardwood floors are lovely; but even with two pairs of socks on, my feet are cold. So I, the anti-shoe-in-the-house person, has begun wearing younger daughter's Uggs in the house. Yet even with flannel pajama bottoms, a long-sleeved shirt, a sweater, and a sweatshirt, I need to huddle. Hence the escape to a neighborhood coffee shop. After I discovered the wifi code, I saw the thermostat, which is lovingly set to 76. I have pulled up my sleeves for the first time in days.


I am not complaining about getting another snow day, which sets me now into day five of a scheduled three-day weekend, but it is darn cold out there and my neighborhood streets are icy. I even took a slide onto the snow when I walked Poops earlier. Those Uggs, it seems, are better as slippers than for walking out and about in the snow.


It is warm and lovely here, with all of the parents and their young children. A father who should not have such young daughters, but they are adorable; one with pigtails set on top of her head. A mother safely holding her baby's pacifier in her mouth for a moment of comfort. Another mother picking out a game to play with her daughter, while her son maintains focus on his game and huge chocolate chip cookie. It's nice to see kids outside of the confines of the high school pressure cooker, and see them in their young explorations with a protective parent nearby. The other adults are all absorbed in their computers.


But a change has occurred. Pigtail girl didn't listen to her father, and her sister, who was charged with keeping her from showing her toys to the rest of us, was unsuccessful, so they have gone. Game boy didn't help his mother when she dropped the game they were playing; &But my sister isn't doing her part.& To which the mother aggravatingly told him that she was just asking him to help. He was then instructed to get his jacket on. The illusion of peace between parents and  young children is gone, as is my moment of thinking that it could be fun to teach little kids.


There is now a group of four seniors eating lunch where the game players had been. They are loud enough to easily eavesdrop, but I really don't want to hear about people with scabies and the possible causes. I fear I will be pushed back out into the cold.


It has been nice, this warm break. It's good sometimes observe. Funnily, it has made me feel more of a participant than usual. At home, in my classroom, at school, my normal environments, I am so focused on what I need to do that I forget that I do not need to be in control, that being in the flow of life is a very warm place.

Talking to Myself

What concerns me is not that I speak to myself in a normal conversational tone when I'm home alone, but that I have begun to find it normal, even appropriate. I mean, isn't it nicer to hear your own voice spoken out loud rather than in that slightly creepy endless internal whisper? It's not that entire dinner conversations occur, and I certainly do not create acquiantances with whom I converse and to whom I serve a meal, but I do tend to discuss my wardrobe and food choices out loud. Yes, I may say, I'll wear the white shirt. Or, chop the onion. Nothing to indicate a degradation of mental ability, more like certifying that my voice works and my hearing hears. Telltale signs of living alone, but is it wrong to assert that you are your own company, in a special way? We often discount ourselves and look too importantly on those around us, so, if anything, I am doing myself a service.


After discovering that the joys of living alone have become the simple extravagance of walking around naked in the morning to make coffee before getting dressed and not worrying about someone else's dietary desires, there comes the aloneness, the solitude, the quiet. While it's easier than living in pain with an abusive spouse, it is not easy to continually face only your own company, Saturday morning after Saturday morning. I both envy myself and envy others in a very delicate balance that still enables me to accept and approve the choices I have made along the way to this moment.


Using my own voice, while a lovely symbol for actually using my own voice, seems to have also enabled me to shed some of the norms of living with others that I no longer need to adhere to. I can be selfish. I can create my own rules. Or I can wonder if I am creating norms that help me to feel strong within myself or whether I am actually weakening myself by feeling my aloneness so acutely. Perhaps I am at a transition point and that is what is causing this discomfort, for I am resisting reaching the next stage because I never expected to be living there: alone and far removed from daydreaming about someone into the minutes and hours and years ahead.


I joke about having a bed and breakfast when I retire, perhaps because I can't imagine this aloneness to be so unending, but I can, increasingly, intuit (against hope but towards reality) that the bed part of my future will not be a shared space.

Talking to myself out loud is a bold way to begin to declare acceptance and figure out how to make it suitable, how to give myself what I need. And that voice, a voice, my voice, to break the silence of one person going between the kitchen and the bathroom in an endless loop seems to serve that purpose well.