Hermithood

It’s that time of year when I typically have had it with winter anyway, but today I’ve spent most of my time eagerly anticipating the moment when the wind is going to finish tearing off my neighbor’s screen door so that it joins the blowing snow, which just doesn’t seem to want to fly down

I miss the color green.
I can’t even remember what dirt smells like.
I remember what birds sound like only because of TV.
I’m sick of being cooped up and having way too much time to think and consequently freaking out about every life decision I’ve ever made.

 But here’s the thing: Despite the weather, despite hating being cooped up (yes, I could do things outside, but I’m not a crazy winter person), I really don’t mind this winter causing me to spend so much time alone.  I would like to be out, at the park, at the beach, among the living, etc.  But I’ve gotten pretty good at doing these things by myself.  Maybe it’s part of being a writer, but I like to be out in the world and just observe.  I like having great stretches of time where I can think without having to entertain anyone else. Selfishly, I like doing things my way.  Less selfishly, I like not making other people accommodate me into their plans.

Of course I like spending time with my family and my friends.  Most of them.  Many of them.  Some of them.  Sometimes.  It would be absolutely detrimental to my mental wellbeing if I didn’t interact with people regularly. I genuinely love meeting new people.  I’ve had a job in the past which required me to be more social than any of you probably will ever be in your life, so forgive me if I smirk a bit when you get all judge-y like I can’t be social.  (Okay, that started to get specific…) Anyway, yes, I like people.  I’d say I need people.  I may be an introvert, but people feed me creatively, spiritually, etc. in ways that neither I nor Netflix can.

But my usual, comfortable state involves a table for one.

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The natural question most people ask is, “Don’t you wish you were in a relationship so that you’re not alone all the time?” My first reaction is usually to find this insulting.  My second reaction is to take a deep breath and try to make the person understand that I’m quite happy being single.  Well-meaning relatives and friends of course try to “help.”  My usual response echoes Liz Lemons’s “No, thank you, please!” Okay, being in a relationship wouldn’t be a bad idea, but having some guy in my life usually just exhausts me.  If someone wants to see me more than once a week, I start to feel claustrophobic.  Maybe at some point someone will surprise me, but I don’t NEED someone to make me feel content.  I think that’s a much healthier space to be in – hoping to be surprised – than dating anyone/everyone in the hope that I won’t have to be alone.

If I’m being honest, most of the time it’s probably better that I’m not around people.  Usually in public my verbal edit switch IS clicked to on, but I apparently have lost all ability to control my facial expressions.  While I might really, really want to spend time out with friends, after a few hours that enthusiasm is likely to wane and I’d rather be back enjoying Sammy (my TV) or else writing.  However, this time of year, I think everyone has had it with being stuck inside and so we’re a bit more likely to enjoy each other’s company just for the sake of being in each other’s company. I can be okay in public, and this time of year even I am willing to give it a go.

 On that note, I have to go get ready to leave my apartment.  Good luck to everyone dealing with me tonight.

Rabbit Trail Drift Off

It’s that time of season when this:

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Stormtrooper (my car), where he hasn’t moved for days.

 leads to this:

Just watched...

As a result, here’s what happened in my mind last night as I was trying to fall asleep:

This book’s fun.
Gosh, my bed is warm.
[hears gust of wind outside]
No, I’m not letting you in!
What would I do as a vampire?
Who’d be my role model – Aidan or Lestat?
My ears have been ringing for over an hour.
Someone must REALLY be gossiping about me…
Is that an old wives’ tale or just something my mom made up?
I don’t know who’d be up at-
[checks clock on phone]
-3:14 am, anyway.
Did I have caffeine today?
[thinks through everything I ate/drank]
Nope.
Scary that I can do that.
What day is tomorrow – Wednesday?
These are normal questions when hibernating…hermitting…hibermitting.
Nailed it.
This is going great.
Count sheep.
No, boring.  Count Almosts… What am I at – 46?
Hmm… No, not thinking about THAT.
Galcon is Welsh.  Evant is French.  Hack is Colombian.  Matsuri is, what, American?  Poor guy is so uninteresting.
Well, he IS based on-
[edit omission to protect myself]
Did I email everyone back today?
No, I will NOT email/text at-
[checks phone]
3:20.  Great Sky, this is ridiculous.
Coke!  I put Coke in my rum!
Er, you know what I mean…  I know what I mean.
Am I talking to myself?!
This is how it starts.
Well, crazy Aunt Dora lived to be over 100, right? Decent trade off.
I wonder if she was an artist/writer/whatevs.
Gosh, darn, heck – did I just THINK ‘whatevs’?
Not okay, brain.
But I DO wonder if she had journals.
I would SO follow the blog of a crazy person.
Like that poet who writes the conversations she hears the voices having.
…I should write this down.

Muppet Christmas Lessons

[This is from a few years ago, but it’s still appropriate. And still a lesson I struggle with…although I hope I’m better. Anyway, ’tis the season.]

I am proud of Jason Segel.  I don’t know him.  Never met him.  I know being proud of someone you’ve never met is odd, but it’s true.  He brought the Muppets back to life.  The Muppets were essentially dead for over a decade, and now my whole generation has back this wonderful element of our childhood.  Better yet, as one of my friends pointed out, we are free to love the Muppets without irony (the culturally acceptable attitude painted over long-forlorn objects of childhood affection).

After watching the new Muppet Movie, which happened to release around my birthday, my friends went on a Muppet binge for over a month.  It helped that this was around Christmas, and the Muppets’ several Christmas specials fit with perfect timing.  Chief amongst these was, of course, A Muppet Christmas Carol.  Admittedly, I’ve always been partial to Muppet Treasure Island and hadn’t watched their Christmas Carol in several years, but it’s still one of my favorite adaptations.

This time, however, I for the first time noticed something about the general story of the Christmas Carol that got to me – Scrooge.  I’m sure several people who know me would say that I should always have identified with Scrooge, but that’s not exactly what hit me.  The thing about the story that I noticed this time was this:  After his midnight ordeal, Scrooge wakes up in the morning a changed man, and though we only see his first morning after, the projection implied is that Scrooge was a changed man ever after.  That made me think, as many a jaded adult should probably admit to thinking, “Yeah, but how long did it last?”

Then I watched Young Adult, where Charlize Theron plays a woman so self-important and miserable that she honestly thinks it’s not only a good idea but a possible one that she can steal back her now-married ex-boyfriend.  As I watched this movie, I couldn’t help make the connection – she’s a scrooge.  She’s entirely focused on meeting her own needs; she sees the world only from her own viewpoint.  However, unlike Scrooge, when her climactic moment of decision arrives and she realizes that she must change or else be miserable the rest of her life…she doesn’t.  She reverts.  She not only doesn’t learn her lesson but she believes that there was no lesson necessary to learn.  It’s a disturbingly accurate portrayal of our contemporary approach to choosing to be better people, I think.  (I never thought I would accuse Dickens of being optimistic, but by comparison to Diablo Cody, I guess he was.)  In Young Adult, this scrooge thinks there’s nothing really wrong with her, and it’s deeply disturbing because you come to want so badly for this person to grow up and be better.

So.  When/if we repent, change, heal, whatever, how long does it last?  At least for me, the answer is usually “not very.”  I have all the gusto in the world and have every honest intention of being a better person once I’ve been slapped in the face with my own idiocy, and I might even make a really good go of it for a week or two.  But pretty soon, old nature sneaks back in and my enthusiastic decency-revival fades.  Or, worse yet, like Young Adult, I talk myself out of needing to change because I’m so comfortable wallowing in my own mess that I can’t see how to do anything else.  I’m not really that bad, right?  Maybe it’s everyone else who’s wrong.   Maybe I just need to focus more on myself.

Example:  Lately (I use that liberally but feel free to replace with “for quite some time”), I’ve been a pretty sulky, victimized, snippy, unpleasant brat.  I can easily admit that my biggest problem is that I quickly find flaws in people and expect too much from them, and I was living from the position that all my problems were caused by everybody else.  (Let’s face it, this is an easy road to go down.)  The stupid thing is that I’m horribly self-aware and knew I was being an ass, but I have always been able to rationalize my behavior and thoughts – okay, maybe that’s my worst quality.  Anyway, I was definitely being a scrooge, pre-ghostly visitations.  Fortunately, what finally got to me was not as traumatizing-ly supernatural.  While reading Not A Fan by Kyle Idleman, I realized that I was being completely, self-righteously ridiculous.  The problem was me.  Yes, everyone else has problems and nobody’s perfect, but I CAN change ME.  For starters, I needed to at least realize I had a plank in my eye.  If I can rationalize my flaws, why can’t I do the same in others?  I needed to be more forgiving of other people’s flaws.  It’s only fair.  What right do I have to think I’m better than everyone I’m upset with when I know I’m being a jerk?  Why can’t I be as forgiving of other people as I am of myself?

As a Christian, I believe that the great, great thing about God is that he’s just waiting for us to realize we’re idiots.  I always imagine a spiritual finger poking me when I need to realize I’m being stupid.  The scary thing about us humans (or maybe just me…but I doubt it) is that we get really good at ignoring the poking.  Sometimes it takes something to get our attention, and in my case is was Not A Fan (I’m really happy it wasn’t the Ghost of Christmas Future, because that guy always freaks me out, even in Muppet form).  As I finished reading a chapter, I felt a weight lifted, and I knew it was my own stupidity.  I acknowledged for the first time in way too long that I was being a self-righteous, judgmental idiot.  And just like that, I felt God going, “Ah-ha, there ya go.  Welcome back.”  I realized at once that this was yet another time when I had to decide where to go and how to be better.

  1. Be fair – treat people at least as kindly as I treat myself.  If I don’t like something about someone, first ask myself if that’s because it’s something I don’t like about me.
  2. Be a more invested friend – show up when people ask, because they might stop caring if I don’t.
  3. Get out of my own head.  Empathize more.
  4. Let things go.  People aren’t perfect.

Of course, in this approaching time of New Year’s resolutions, there is always the question of “How long will it last?”  There will be slips.  I’m not perfect, and no one ever completely changes.  Within a short time, I’m sure I’ll catch myself saying something or doing something that will make me feel that finger-poking rebuke again.  But I intend to remain aware and try to fix my behavior and thoughts as often as possible.  

NOT THIS:                                                         THIS:

adu       scro

NOT THIS:                                                          THIS:

adul                scroo

My brother’s first songs

[This Thanksgiving, my mom and I sat at the kitchen table listening to the cassette tape she’d recorded between 1985-1988 of my brother and me saying our ABC’s, singing “Jesus Loves Me,” etc.   It’s amazing to me how early our creative loves developed – I take every opportunity to tell stories; my brother wants to sing.  I took the tape home with me and uploaded it, and so here we are.]

As promised (or threatened, depending on who you are) earlier in the week, here is the recording of my brother’s first recorded performances.

He’s come along nicely in 20+ years, so feel free to check out his music at: ChrstnSmrvllMsc

My First Stories

This Thanksgiving, my mom and I sat at the kitchen table listening to the cassette tape she’d recorded between 1985-1988 of my brother and me saying our ABC’s, singing “Jesus Loves Me,” etc.   It’s amazing to me how early our creative loves developed – I take every opportunity to tell stories; my brother wants to sing.  I took the tape home with me and uploaded it, and so here we are.

My first story, which I have henceforth titled “MYSTERY” for reasons that will soon become obvious, was recorded when I was 4.  It’s full of twists and turns and beloved childhood characters, and it is a confusing gem, if I do say so myself.

The second story I guess should be called “Snowball and the B-B-B-B-Big Bad Wolf” and is from when I was 6 and had clearly developed my storytelling skills.

Enjoy.  And yes, my brother Christian is in the background and will later this week be embarrassed with a YouTube upload of HIS first performance.

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