Thawing Out from the Deep Freeze
Life, after a few days of -30F temps, is returning to normal. With no frozen pipes, a working internet connection, and each family member off in their own corners, no one died or killed the other – the best possible outcome for a polar vortex. While I would wish this weather on no one, I have a slight dread about the thawing out, the required assimilation with the rest of the world, the lack of excuses to not be social.
In the past, I would have likely come down with some mysterious, communicable illness that prevented me from say, using the phone or making eye contact with other humans. These days, I just drop out of sight for a bit. Most people who know me get this. Or they simply don’t notice. Either way, they’ve been conditioned not to be alarmed. Should I ever live alone again, no one would be alerted of my death until the smell hit the neighbors at the end of the street. C’est la mort.
You’re weird…no, you are!
Being the planner I am, when I saw the predicted temps a few days back, I stocked up from the grocery store, rescheduled appointments, and let people know I’d be absent from meetings/groups. Part of me thought things would be cancelled for safety reasons, but Minnesotans seem to take pride in denying whatever weather scheme is in play. And it would not be the first time in my life I’d been called overly-cautious.
While I rarely change my mind once I’ve arrived at what I think is a logical decision, I do spend inordinate amounts of time doubting myself. When meetings were not called off and people were saying things like I’m braving it or this is nothing or when I was a kid…, I went down my defensive, self-doubting rabbit hole, because that is where I live. Inevitably, because I’m overflowing with rationality, I ended up on well, screw them.
That seems to be as far as I take most of my inner arguments. Maybe it’s because I can’t be bothered or that fitting in/getting along/going with the flow hasn’t rendered much in the way of reward. I’ll say something contrary and friends will say you’re so funny, mostly because they don’t know what to say to a 90 year old curmudgeon in a 51 year old brain. From the outside, I’m a suburban housewife in flannel shirts and jeans. I am the very definition of ordinary, yet every day, at some point in the day, I feel like a weirdo.
This sense of never quite fitting in, is part of the human condition. Introverts usually have an easier time of weirdness – it’s subverted by lack of exposure. I’m the normal-looking person you might start to chat with at the bus stop, lightly grousing about the weather, and ten minutes later we’re in existential fisticuffs about the nature of human existence. Small talk is for novices. My weirdness is camouflaged by mom jeans.
As a writer, I sense it’s important to keep abreast (or two) of current culture and events. I am less and less interested in this idea the more I read Twitter. After awhile, there is a sing-songy nature to outrage and wit and pictures of animals in clothes and repeating memes. This is about as much current culture as I can handle.
In the evenings I’ve been huddled under my blankets, reading Lord Tennyson’s poems out loud. To no one. I’ve been thinking about rhythm in language and the oral traditions of storytelling and if this might not be useful for strengthening my ear for language.
I have no interest in sports, religion, fashion, reality TV, except as peripheral academic interests – literary allusions to be read or employed. Analogies others can understand. Connections that create a broader picture. It’s being a writing mercenary – life is only to be observed and written about, but I’ll skip the participation trophy. Elementary report card comments clearly define my future: She seems very reserved and not a great participant. She would rather work than have free play time. She gets so carried away with reading books that she forgets to do her other work. Yeah, there was no way I was ever going to be a fun-time gal at the tailgate party.
Socrates allegedly said the unexamined life is not worth living, but one can go too far. And there is little about my life or my character that I have not dissected, ruminated over, or researched. The problem with this approach is that at some point, you no longer give credence to your intuition. Everything becomes a Google search, a process of finding multiple sources, a constant skepticism directed at one’s own thought processes. In reasonable doses, this is a good thing, and would have a huge impact on the national discourse, should more individuals practice it.
Intuition is not a namby-pamby new age concept. It’s simply the culmination of your knowledge and experiences disguised as a feeling. People like to feel superior by demanding “facts over feelings” while having no real understanding of emotions and their role in our survival and decision-making abilities. We get very silly when we try to base everything on data alone. Myopic science is not much better than mysticism when it comes to judgment calls.
Writing for Weirdos
Over the last few weeks I’ve come to terms with the fact that I’ve been trying to fit into the “writing world” and ignoring my intuition. I’ve done workshops, conferences, classes, and over the last year, it’s been a writing group and getting feedback from others. Each of those things serve a purpose, but they are only peripheral to the writer I’m working to be. It is what it has always been – a solitary experience – and anything beyond that holds the danger of draining much-needed energy.
The combination of being an introvert, autodidact, and a writer is not weird – there are many people like this. But there’s no workshop to tell us hey, you might not need so much of this peripheral stuff to write. There’s no fee to be earned by telling people that. There’s no acknowledgment to say hey, you need to be alone more to get where you are going. There’s no conference to say you really shouldn’t be here. Go home and write. My intuition says these things are not really working out for me and my time is a finite resource. It’s an unsettling acknowledgement, but one to which I need to pay heed.
Keep writing. Stay weird.