Alien Encounters with Other Humans

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There are days, sometimes weeks, when I seem to be speaking a different language than all the humans I encounter. I make jokes that fall flat. I express my excitement or happiness and people around me step away, in case it’s contagious. Some of it is in my head. No, probably quite a lot of it resides there. But there are simply times when my communication skills veer left of center and it feels like reading close captioning when the typist is slow or when a film dub is just off by a second.

Yesterday, while happily shopping at Whole Foods (is there any other way – the produce is just so pretty!), the retro-beatnik-hipster-unshaven cashier, in an attempt at being jovial/condescending to the middle-aged broad, said “What do you think of the weather?” It was 52 degrees. In December. In Minnesota. I joked and said “The apocalypse is coming”. He chuckled uncomfortably, eyes shifting over to the bagger, is she going to kill us? The bagger laughed nervously as well.

The hipster eventually responded, in a brave show of indulgence for the weirdo, chuckling, “Well, I’ve never heard that one before.” I like people who appreciate my humor, so I briefly pondered waiting for him out in the parking lot to force him to laugh at more of my jokes, but I had FroYo Cherry Garcia, so I had to get home. And before you say it, yes, I know, there’s a strong possibility that I am a) not funny or b) really scary in person, so that any comment sounds like a death threat.

Usually, after several more encounters like this, I get supplies and hole up in my study until I’m in sync with the rest of the universe. I don’t answer the phone, I delay responding to emails, texts and I never answer the door. If I get angry, I hold onto it until it dissipates or turns into a disease. I know my limitations and it’s just better for everyone all the way around if I retreat.

Today is such a day. Time to simmer, reflect, do hard physical labor, recharge and get in sync with myself. Sometimes when I feel out of step with other humans, it’s because I’ve lost my own center and I just need to be quiet. This post being the exception, of course.

46 Comments on “Alien Encounters with Other Humans

  1. GAck! I’m glad other people feel like this at times. Or, so far that I know, at least you and I feel like this at times. At least at home everyone knows what to expect.

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  2. It wasn’t me was it? I have been known to have this effect on people. My son once proclaimed he wanted to be a hermit and not divulge to the location of his hideaway even to me. He is an introvert.
    This happens to introverts. Interaction with others drains their batteries and they need serious alone time to recover.
    My personality is extrovert, but there are times when I go underground. The mole people there like me. I give them candy and sing songs to them. When I come back to the surface, everyone is happy again.

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      • All out of candy – wait, I found a peppermint in my purse, you’re welcome to have it. Seriously, I have this one friend who emails me from time to time with one line “I miss you as a person.” meaning “where the hell are you? resurface so we can have nachos or a cherry lime aide.”
        I think no matter what our personality “type” is, sometimes everybody feels what you are feeling. I certainly do. Although, I wrote once that I’ve never been one to take comfort in the knowledge that there are others in the same boat as me. Taking comfort in that doesn’t add up to anything for me but a bunch of sad sacks. Sounds kind of mean now that I think about it. Time to go underground again.

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        • Ha! I think knowing others experience the same things means 1)I’m not a complete weirdo and 2) I don’t need to take myself so seriously over a universally human experience. Be kind to yourself – I think you’re much nicer than you think you are!

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        • You’re right of course. AND don’t be embarrassed about the awesomeness you shared on FreshlyDePressed. We all need support and the more awesome we are the more support we need. Just look at Beyoncé and Bieber, they need an entourage of support.
          It’s true that being featured on Freshly Pressed is an honor, and exhilarating, but once your post sinks into that digital sunset though…♫ ♫Oh, Danny boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling
          From glen to glen, and down the mountain side
          The summer’s gone, and all the flow’rs are dying
          ‘Tis you, ’tis you must go and I must bide. ♫♫

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  3. What a GREAT post….I loved it. Well written as well and I feel as you do nearly every day. Its great I am not alone in letting the phone ring and making people wait for a response from me via email! Thanks for making me smile and for the warning of the apocalypse! Made this man’s day! TY

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    • Thanks – I think the idea that any of us should be reachable at any given moment is freaky. I try to be more thoughtful in my communication and if I’m not, that’s usually when I offend or misread or at the very least, say something incredibly stupid. It’s for everyone’s protection that I slow down!

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  4. I so, so, SO very much can relate to this post (and many of your posts, btw)! Being a teacher is such an “out there” job. Everyone wants a piece of you, of your time, your thoughts, your brain (gah! little zombies!) … this often flows into my personal life as well. I have a few “insiders” in my life who understand my odd sense of humor and desire to be left alone at frequent intervals. They also understand when I need to be dragged back into the fold and help me rejoin the world around me.

    Your blog family can help you with that, too. We’ll let you know when its time to come back out and play. 🙂

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    • I’m being forced out today, by all the traffic, but so far, staying in my pajamas has helped and sucking down obscene amounts of tea and coffee has been lovely. To be a teacher, and a good one, I think an odd sense of humor would be a requirement and lifesaving!

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  5. Great post 🙂 It seems I get out of sync with other people as well. Awkward moments are very draining and they also cause me to need a bit of a hermit retreat. The worst is when I have to explain my sarcastic jokes to people around me. This is when I feel the need to go hide for awhile.

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    • Draining is a good word to describe it – it may be just the nature of being an introvert. It used to really eat at my self-esteem until I started to find it funny. I laughed in the car on the way home from the store. Hence, more weird behavior. At least now, with Bluetooth, other drivers can think there is a possibility that I’m on the phone, instead of just laughing hysterically to myself.

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  6. Feel exactly the same way and I thought I was the only one. 🙂
    Excellent post. Enjoyed looking and reading your thoughts.

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      • Actually, you know it would be a breath of fresh air. We would all have an ahhh, ahhhh moment.
        You’re welcome. My pleasure.

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  7. I think I have felt exactly the same way at the market – I wondered if it was generational. I get that out of sync feeling and spend a weekend alone with just the pups, the camera, and the DVR to realign myself with myself – works for me.

    BTW – your post that was just FPd – wonderful. Well deserved! You doa great job of making your reader see something in a clearer, more potent way – at least that is what I have found. Congrats, enjoy the ride!

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    • I do think there is something to the generational thought and it’s a little frightening. I worked in retail jobs before and remember being so young that I thought everyone else was a nutter and I was doing them a favor by being helpful and polite. It’s not going to get any better, is it? I’m preparing my bags of change, checkbook and ream of coupons – it’s a bright, but very slow and holding-up-the-line kind of future…
      Thanks for the FP congrats. Ironic, isn’t it – the day I really need to hide in a hole? Ah well, at least in responding to comments, I’ll only be saying lame things at a distance.

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      • I manage a design team of mostly 20-somethings – I see how they assume I don’t “get” things – I understand it, I didn’t think people my parents age had a clue about things either. I need to cut them some slack and not marginalize them for their inexperience I guess:)

        Well – the honor is deserved – hole or not. I think one of the great things about blogging is getting to say lame things at a distance.

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  8. I feel like this a lot. Maybe we’re all alien changelings and just didn’t know it.
    Just spent a loada time reading through your blog posts. They’re so interesting and funny, and very witty. Just wanted to say that!

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    • Thanks for reading my blog posts and for the nice compliments! I have started to view these awkward moments as just being funny and I try to imagine them from the other people’s perspective. It makes it even funnier, though – no compassion for the unsuspecting human that might run into me on a changling day!

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      • you can always hope you get some kinda awesome mind power. Bend people to your will, that’s one way to ensure the other half keeps a consistent supply of coffee coming.
        We can live in hope…

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  9. After one of our conversations, my daughter often tells me, “Be careful who you say something like that to, Mom.”
    She’s the same daughter who would ask me what I was wearing if she ever needed me to pick her up somewhere.

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    • It sounds like you are doing exactly the job you are supposed to do – embarrassing your child with inappropriate social interactions and clothing. My mother used to wear neon colored socks. It would embarrass the hell out of me, but now I get to look forward to carrying on the tradition!

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    • Thanks! Since you travel abroad, do you get that feeling more when you are “home” or when traveling? I wonder if anonymity and being a foreign speaker in a different country seems almost easier.

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      • I most definitely feel most “alien” when in my own home country. I’m not sure that its the anonymity that makes me feel “normal” when abroad….or just that I am most myself when I’m “allowed” to look, or be, lost. It’s expected I’d guess….although for me, it’s a blessing and much welcomed feeling. Make sense?

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        • I completely understand – there is a certain freedom to being where you’re not supposed to know all the answers and being able to look at things with the curiosity of a child. I have felt that way abroad and even stateside, traveling around the country. It occurs to me that it would be interesting to try and go about one’s regular routine for a day, imagining it through the eyes of a traveler. Thanks for sharing your experience!

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  10. I think it’s this left of centre stuff that makes us writers. We do see things differently but i like that! PS love your honesty.

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    • Perhaps, too, this “off” perspective drives many of us to write – it’s our way of making sense of a world that sometimes makes no sense. Thanks for reading and commenting!

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      • Yes i agree that it’s a totally nonsensical world and i try to expose that in my stories!

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  11. I feel the same way all the time. People really do not know how to take me, just like I don’t always know how to take myself.

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    • Some days my self-consciousness becomes so acute that even a glance from someone gives me the sense that I’m “off”. Other days, I’m a bulldozer, merrily running people down with insensitivity and glee. I always figure that if I wait long enough – like the weather, it will change!

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