Friday, October 30, 2009

A Note To Introverts From A Recovering Extrovert.

It's interesting to me how introverts and extroverts always come together like magnets. I figure the introvert is looking for someone to take the edge off and produce small talk for them. And the extrovert is looking for someone to listen to their incessant rambling without interruption. It actually works quite well. What's interesting is that both of these, when severe, is considered social anxiety. They're just on opposite sides of the spectrum.

My husband and I were the perfect example of it. We used to go to parties and when we got home I would ask him, "Do you think I offended any one of the million people I was talking to tonight? I just rambled on and on about my thong because I couldn't stand the silent gaps. At one point I started talking about our checking account and I rambled off our PIN number. Dammit. I'm sure they think I'm a coke addict, but I hate those few seconds of silence when no one talks..."

To which my husband would reply, "Are you kidding? I was in the corner rocking myself in the fucking fetal position because I was so terrified of all the small talk. There is no way I can monitor your conversations when I can't even greet someone. Christ, I'm exhausted."

I overcompensated to relieve my anxiety and he was catatonic. We made quite a pair. I was busy jamming persectives of myself into people's heads: "Please see me as a strong, independent, witty woman!" I forgot that what people think of me is none of my business. My husband on the other hand, couldn't even peel himself off the wall to care about perspective. He just wanted to make it through a party without being petrified.

The thing about parties and the socially anxious extrovert is that we can't imagine someone not wanting the spotlight. So we exhaust ourselves, trying to gush and shine our intense light on every introvert at the party to make them feel welcome and happy. We don't realize we're terrifying them, we think we're making them feel special.

You see, the anxious extroverts of the world want to make sure you introverts are getting enough attention. Because frankly, we can't seem to get enough of it. If you return from a trip, we want to shower you with attention and maybe even burst out in a "Welcome Home" song for you (I have done this). It's difficult to let you slide into a room without creating a big party for you. Because if we create a big buzz, we get to share the spotlight with you. So you see, we're not actually doing it all for you. It's more about producing attention-getting schemes so we can bask in the gregarious social cluster with you.

I'm happy to report that my husband and I have outgrown our social anxieties for the most part. However, if I have an intense listener that takes more than 4 seconds to respond to my babbling, I tend to fill in the excruciating silence with meaningless babble. And if there is a social gathering of strangers, my husaband may take a few bathroom trips to break up the pain of it all. But for the most part, we enjoy ourselves without exhausting all our energy.

I've recently learned to sit back and listen to other people. It's heart-warming to discover how incredible people are. I had no idea I had such amazing friends. I was so busy talking, I didn't have time to learn about their hopes, dreams, and challenges. Nice friend I was. But hey, everyone is work in progress right?

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Jelly Side Down Days.

I refer to sucky days as "jelly-side down days". It dates back to when our daughters were two year old and "infant-screaming-with-an-ear infection". I was toggling back and forth all day between them, trying to minimize the screaming that began the previous night. I was pulling my hair out by morning snack.

I even pooped on the toilet while bouncing my baby in the Bjorn while changing the shirt of my toddler. I was aware of the sanitary issues, but the screaming from both mouths would have been too much if I tried to go alone. Dignity is simply something a woman gives up when she has a toddler and newborn. I know I'm not the only that has done this, ladies.

Anyway, back to the original jelly-side down day. I didn’t have a morsel of food until 7:00 pm because I was so busy feeding, cleaning, changing, playing, singing, and rocking. So I made an English muffin with strawberry jelly for myself and as I walked across the kitchen I dropped it. Jelly side down. It was the last straw.

I yelled, “MOTHERFUCKER! JELLY SIDE DOWN! PARKER (my two year old), LOOK AT THIS! JELLY FUCKING SIDE DOWN! OH MY GOD!”

The good news is my children stopped screamining due to sheer shock and terror. The bad news is, they were shocked and terrified. I apologized and admitted that I wasn't proud of my behavior. Paige didn't give a shit since she was three weeks old, but I still thought she deserved an apology. Parker just stood there, paralyzed in fear.

But God, the one “meal” I made for myself was now lying on the floor, jelly side down. If it landed jelly side up, everything would have been fine. I would have picked it up and shoved it in my face. But I couldn’t pick it up and eat it because I hadn’t washed floors in at least three weeks. Damn it.

It's the little things that knock us off kilter, isn't it? We hold it together for the big things like surgery, ER visits, and the croup. But goddamn it if a an english muffin lands jelly side down. Why is that? You would think we would fall apart on the big things, but it's always the feather landing on top of the pile that releases the volcano.

During this phase of my life, I entertained a certain fantasy. It had nothing to do with an orgasm. That would produce another infant-with-an-ear-infection, which was not fantasy material.

Instead, I dreamed of being sent away to a resort where talking was not permissible. Meditation was the only activity allowed. My room did not have windows and no one cared if I emerged from the room or not. I could sleep for sixteen hours if I wanted. And then, when I was well-rested, a healthy dinner would be waiting for me. And if an English muffin was served with that dinner, it would be jelly side up.

What can I say, sometimes a girl just needs the little things to line up before appreciating the big things like health, love and security.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Halloween.

Halloween. A day that encourages children to take candy from strangers. And not only from strangers, but strangers with fake blood and a noose around their necks. I have to wonder what my kids think as we make our way around fake headstones, say hello to skeletons, and ring doorbells on a porch that features death on a zipline.

Last year they witnessed my husband and I doing a jello shot with a vampire and his "dead" wife. That must have been traumatizing on some level.

It always feels weird to walk my children up to the doorstep that includes the fake dead body with a knife stabbed in its chest and say, “That’s okay girls, yes, it appears the owners of this home stabbed someone to death. Now let’s beg for candy. Fingers crossed for Reeses cups!”

I'm trying to teach my daughters to respect and compassion. But what they hear loud and clear on Halloween is that it’s okay to step over a dead body to beg for candy.

I have to admit, there are some good costumes out there. What about the ones splattered in blood that don't say "Trick or Treat"? They freak me out. I get the shivers wondering if it really is a costume or if they just finished someone off in the field with the kitchen knife and now they have the munchies.

Then there are the princesses crying on my front doorstep because they are "fat", meaning their parents were forced to jam a winter coat under their costume and strap a hat on their head. We live in Minnesota, so we don't have a choice. Some kids are in snow pants with a Spiderman costume stretched over it. Trust me, it looks fucking painful.

And the poor parents are sprinting from house to house trying to rush the kids through the loot, rubbing their hands together while drinking spiked apple cider. “Okay good! Keep it going, keep moving guys, keep walking, let’s go, Jesus Christ it’s freezing, keep going…”

As a Minnesotan, you really have to search for a kid’s costume. I’ve had a few kids standing on my doorstep in full snow gear with a, "Hello My Name Is: FIREMAN" sticker to indicate that they are indeed a fireman underneath all the layers.

But through all the guts and gore, it's worth it. I can't deny the excitement that fills our house when they return from their "Sugar Walk." They feel brave to have conquered the house with bones reaching out of the ground/snow. Courage and Bravery are other things I'm trying to teach my kids and if Halloween gives them a little of it, then it's cool with me.

Besides, you can't beat those red, smiling cheeks when they return.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Secret Swearing.

You may be surprised, but I don't swear much in real life. I know, I know. When I run into people, I think they expect me to pull out a cigarette and start cursing like a sailor. Wait. To be honest, I called my dog Rocket a fat ass a few seconds ago, but he just sat on my zip drive and broke it. No kidding, as I was typing the first sentence of this blog, he hopped on the sofa and sat his big, furry ass on the zip drive and cracked it. It's hanging like a used condom from the side of my computer. Trust me, he deserved that comment. And since he's a dog and can't process words, I'm convincing myself that it's not verbally abusive.

But honestly, I don't swear a lot. This blog is kind of my alter ego. The bad ass I wish I could be, but don't have the guts in real life.

My kids, on the other hand, are desperately trying to find the wiggle room when it comes to swearing. Paige will drag out, "HELL-o!" just to hear herself say the word "hell". When I was their age, I used to say,"Ah Ship!" and then when my dad stared at me with disgust, I'd say, "I said shiP! With a P. You can't ground me for that."

To this day, my dad has a difficult time reading my blog because of my potty mouth. "I like your blog, but I didn't think my little girl used that kind of language." My mom chimed in and say, "Well Ron, if something is shitty, then it's shitty."

I don't think he appreciated me spreading the contagious sailor talk with my mother.

My oldest daughter, Parker, recently admitted to a brilliant loophole I never thought of: Flipping the bird with her hands jammed in her pockets. She sat us down at the kitchen counter and said, "Mom? Dad? I have to tell you something and I may get in trouble for it, but I can't keep it in anymore."

We looked at each other with apprehension. Drugs already? She's only nine!

She said, "Well, I wanted to see what it was like to put my middle finger up, but I was so nervous, I did it with my hands in my pockets. It only lasted for a second and I didn't like it, but I just had to be honest with you."

Whew. We explained that it's not classy to flip people the bird, nor is it classy to swear. She has choices to make, but our guidelines are to treat everyone with respect and swearing doesn't fall into the respect category (unless you know how to use it for comic relief, which I refrained from saying out loud).

We haven't had an issue since, but I'm definitely aware of watching where she's putting her hands when I ask her to do her homework or clean her room. I don't want her using the "Pocket Bird" stunt on me. Man, kids are smart these days.