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Things On My Mind

It occurred to me that I'm an idiot. It's confirmed by the fact that I'm 40 years old and it's only just occurring to me now. When I was younger, I absolutely hated social outings. I felt overwhelmed, never had anything to say to anyone, was incapable of approaching strangers and starting a conversation, couldn't fathom the unspoken communication going on between other people that said "I'm approachable" or "I don't like you very much." I just avoided anything that looked like a social gathering.

In my old age, I've gotten better. I have some friends, we get together, I have a pretty good time. I've gotten adventurous enough to actually invite people I don't even know to my house. I can make jokes and smile and laugh and attempt something that tries hard to be charm except that it can't shut up.

I realized last night that, while most people have an analog "social" switch that goes smoothly from "Enjoying some time alone" to "Leader of the drunken conga line," I am stuck in some sort of social binary - either "Fuck Off" or "I'm going to keep talking until you die." That's not good. We recently had a couple over for dinner. I sat at one end of the table, my husband sat at the other end, the wife sat next to my husband and I sat next to hers. My mother and daughters were arranged on the other side of the table. Things were going fine until I realized that the wife and I were having one conversation and the husbands and my mother were having a completely different one across each other at full volume. The conversation died back, but I think the damage had been done. At some point I tried to engage the husband about his work, and he replied tersely that he had already told my husband all about it while I was talking to his wife. By the end of the evening, the husband was visibly gritting his teeth and literally pushing his wife out the door.

I felt like the rudest hostess in the world. Like I'm such a social moron that I can't just shut up and enjoy listening to someone else for a change. I really need to work on that.

Last night I dreamed that I was in school again, and that all my professors were people I work with. I should have known it was a dream because once again, it was the middle of term and I hadn't attended my math class even once. In real life that never EVER happened, but in the dream, I had a memory of that happening all the time. The weird thing is that it does happen all the time in my dreams about school. There's always some class that I signed up for an never attended, and it's always a math class. Dream memory is a strange thing and worth thinking hard about.

At one point I was walking across campus between two buildings that had cars parked between them. There was an older man and a younger man talking while looking around as though they were worried they might be overheard. I passed quite close to them and realized that they were some kind of small-time wannabe criminals. Skanky, but harmless. I smiled and nodded as I went past and the older man smiled and nodded and asked me if I knew alleahna. I said yes, and he told me that he came to the school all the time just to see her. He was her father, but he didn't want to approach her because he didn't want to embarrass her in public. The younger guy was her brother. He asked me a few questions about her and then I went on my way. I met alleahna for lunch and told her "I met your father." She told me that her father lived in another state so it was impossible, and I said "No, your real father." She went all pale and I told her about meeting him and talking to him and also seeing her brother. I didn't mention that I knew they were small-time hoods. I got the feeling that she knew and was deeply ashamed, and that she would have been embarrassed if she thought I knew. I felt bad that she carried around this burden of guilt for something that wasn't her fault, but there was no way to tell her that. She would have to forgive herself and realize it on her own. I could just tell her that her father seemed a decent sort, and very sensitive to her feelings.

I posted the hot tub on the "freebie" section of craigslist at noon yesterday. Thus far I've gotten twenty-five people who are willing to stab each other in the neck for the privilege of scraping this behemoth off my deck. I'm on tenterhooks over the whole thing. I've had other people talk about taking it before, but then they see it and say "Oh, this is larger and more difficult than I had in mind." My life has been a history of having a wealth of offers that all fizzle out. My fingers are crossed, my bets are hedged, and I'm telling myself not to get overly excited.

I had some other stuff to say, but I've forgotten it, and today's shaping up to be a very busy day.


( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 4th, 2005 05:00 pm (UTC)
Free dream analysis (you get what you pay for):

Standard anxiety dream about being unprepared or incompetent. Given the social aspect of the alleanha part of the dream, concern about embarassing a friend and being socially uncomfortable, I'd say it ties directly into the social anxiety issues expressed in the rest of the post.

On the rest:

It sounds to me like the husband was the rude one, not you. Those kinds of cross-conversations happen frequently at dinner parties-- basically, any time you have more than three adults in a setting, you will have that phenomenon. If you don't, then you have the exclusion phenomenon, wherein the two people sitting next to each other talk, and the other two people talk, and nobody talks to the fifth person, or the two who are sitting next to each other never turn and talk to the other people.

Very frustrating, but if you're aware of it (and it sounds like you did become alert to the situation), you can mitigate it by either repositioning yourself to change the flow of conversation, or by just embracing it and making sure in the course of an evening that everyone has a chance to talk with *you*. You can't make everyone talk to everyone else, but you can make everyone feel included by chatting with people individually and then introducing them to each other so they'll have a conversational partner when you move on to the next guest.
Aug. 4th, 2005 06:37 pm (UTC)
There's always some class that I signed up for an never attended, and it's always a math class.

OMG! Me, too! Not positive it's always math related, but I think usually. It's my worst dream, I alway wake up just before finals and I am all stressed that I kept forgetting to go to class.

Better go read Mortaine's analysis now...
Aug. 4th, 2005 09:15 pm (UTC)
If you were rude, and I'm not sure you were, you certainly weren't the only one. It sounds like everyone was participating in these conversations happening on top of each other, so, really, everyone was rude, or nobody was.
Aug. 5th, 2005 05:51 pm (UTC)
yeah, i agree with luna. And the gritting the teeth guy shouldn't have done that -- that violates the supreme rule of engagement, which is "acting like your miserable which makes the host/hostess feel bad." He should suck it up -- he got a free meal (at the v. least).
Aug. 8th, 2005 01:56 am (UTC)
You know..u have a knack for writing....you write real interesting! :)
Aug. 8th, 2005 05:51 pm (UTC)
Thank you! Very kind of you to say so. How did you find my journal?
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )