Tag Archives: fear

Have a Seat at My Table

First a little background information: I used to work in childcare. Specifically, I was the lead teacher in an after-school classroom; my kids ranged from kindergarten to 12 years old, so while they were generally past the “how to function at a survival level” stage (how to eat, use the restroom etc), they were firmly in the middle of the “how to be human” stage. You remember what elementary school was like: half dumping in facts and data, the other half figuring out how to interact without too much bloodshed.

As a result, most of the disciplinary incidents could be resolved with a brief rules reminder or a bit of clarification–“walking feet, please”, or “we keep the cars on the carpet so people walking past don’t trip. Please take that one back onto the rug”. But every once in a while someone would have a super-rough day and need a break; you could call it “time out” if you want, but really the goal was something less punitive and more just removing the kiddo from the situation until they could cool off. The table nearest my supplies cupboard worked best for that–it was farthest from everything else in the room–so when someone was Hulking out, they were instructed to go “have a seat at my table” until I could clean up the calamity, stop any bleeding, console anyone left weeping, and come see what had set off the shenanigans.

Now here’s why I told you all that: yesterday some truly awful things happened in Paris. You’ve probably heard about them, and folks around the world are responding admirably and beautifully. But as with any truly awful thing, there are also some staggeringly insensitive responses coming from people who should absolutely know better (can you pick your own words to form a sentence? Then you can pick better ones and make better sentences. Try again, jerkfaces).

And initially, this post was going to be a full Buffalo Tantrum about that. I was going to scream and holler about people making racist statements, refusing to fact-check, lumping together groups of people who are literally on exact opposite sides of the problem, and so forth; and my rallying cry was going to be “All of you may have a seat at my table”.

But then I stopped and listened to those words: all of you may have a seat at my table.

And it occurred to me that I was about >this< close to committing the same sins I was railing against–lumping people together, refusing to hear where other people were coming from, declaring that any viewpoint other than my own was automatically wrong–when the truth of the matter is that I actually don’t understand what’s causing folks to say some of these things. At a guess there’s no small amount of fear at the bottom of it; but I don’t know backstories, don’t know histories, don’t know whether they (for example) lost someone on 9/11 and are now deeply scarred and reactionary about these sorts of things.

But perhaps if we have a seat at my table and talk about it, we can sort some of it out. We can brainstorm different solutions. We can look for similarities among the differences. We can pass the cookies and juice, and figure out why we’re using such angry words and whether there’s a better way to express the things we truly need.

Look, I’m not saying all responses are appropriate to share right out there in front of god and everybody. I’m not saying there aren’t people floating around who are just plain racist, just plain hateful, just plain malicious, just plain trolls. But I am saying it’s unfair of me to assume that everyone who has expressed an opinion that made me grate my teeth is automatically a bad person.

So maybe I should invite them to have a seat at my table. Maybe I should be willing to dialogue with people instead of dismissing them out-of-hand because of something they said during a frightened moment. Maybe I can insist on a model where my table is for cooling off and talking, not for sending people to sit in time-out until I’m tired of being mad at them.

And for the folks who have a seat at my table, and we talk, and I find out that they’re the sort of vitriolic hate-mongering fear-mongering jerks who will never be part of the solution?

Well, I guess they can go back to playing with the other kids, and I can keep on watching ’em like a hawk and praying that their grownups will come pick them up soon.

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Filed under Don't Make Me Come Down There, General Musings and Meanderings, Play Nicely, Share the Toys

Not a Rockstar Today

Things at which I have failed in the last 24 hours:

  1. Being height-weight proportionate, therefore
    1. Being able to fit into all those clothes I bought back when I’d lost a bunch of weight, or
    2. Being willing to buy new clothes, because by gosh, I will keep losing weight this time for realsies even though it hasn’t worked so well historically, so
    3. Dressing like I have any idea how fashion works, what looks good on me, or for that matter, what size I even am.
  2. Exercising or maintaining dietary habits that would bring me any closer to changing #1 (I can’t turn down free pizza. I’m pretty sure it’s in the Bible or the Constitution or something.)
  3. Using those sticky pore strip things. I don’t want to talk about it. It was a fiasco.
  4. Taking a shower, because I’m not leaving the house today, and for that matter,
  5. Leaving the house today.
  6. Not freaking out when we left the house yesterday, because we had to drive on the scary highways. On the plus side, I did not actually shut all the way down, though I may have blathered for a while to distract myself.
  7. Having enough money in the bank to:
    1. Make a down payment on a house, or
    2. Make a down payment on a car, or
    3. Make a down payment on a pony, or
    4. Survive for six months in case of layoff, or
    5. Survive for one month in case of layoff.
  8. Calling my college friend who wanted me to call her; see also:
    1. Calling my mother,
    2. Calling anyone who knows things about real estate,
    3. Calling anyone at all whom I was not literally being paid money to call.
  9. Writing a blog post.
  10. Walking the dogs. Fortunately, we have a backyard, so they can do their business there.
  11. Playing folk tunes I have successfully played before. Violin practice today was…screechy.
    1. Practicing for the full hour I’d set aside. My poor neighbors didn’t sign up for that.
  12. Working on bushwhacking the weeds that are slowly devouring the back yard. And the front yard. And the side yard. And the flower pots, fer cryin’ out loud. Stupid trees with their stupid helicopters.
  13. Dusting, vacuuming, or sweeping. Basically anything involving making the floor cleaner than it currently is.
    1. Ditto for the shelves.
    2. And the bathrooms.
    3. And the windows.
    4. And my desk.
  14. Writing book reviews of the last five-that’s-right-I-said-FIVE books I’ve read. In my defense, three of them are a series and I’m planning to review them all together.
    1. Finishing that other series I started, which Moon Man has finished but I got distracted.
  15. Having flawless skin, hair, nails, teeth, or indeed any other body part. I thought acne was supposed to just be a teenager thing. APPARENTLY NOT.

…and that’s just the last 24 hours, y’all. And just the first 15 things I thought of off the top of my head. I also failed at setting up my sewing machine or using it in any kind of way, or organizing the freezer despite things falling out when I open the door, or decluttering any part of this rummage sale we call a house. I have not been a rock star in the last 24 hours, so to speak; I’ve barely been a rock.

But you know what? That means nothing whatsoever about me as a human being. Yes, I could have made some more productive choices. Yes, I could have done some more productive things. But my decision not to do so–my failure to accomplish stuff–does not mean that I am personally a failure. To swipe a line from Zig Ziglar,

Failure is an event

 

Here’s the thing, gang: today is World Suicide Prevention Day, and I think that makes today an excellent day to be having this conversation. I have dealt with depression for as long as I can remember–some days with more grace and triumph than others–and one of the first things depression will tell you is that you are a failure.

But today, on a day when I’m feeling clear and sane, let me tell you a secret: Depression is a damn liar. It’ll tell you all sorts of things that aren’t true. It’ll pick up things you’ve heard from other people, jokes the jerks in school made, gossip that spilled over from the water cooler, snotty comments the tv commercial people make in an attempt to sell overpriced skin creams, and it’ll repeat them back to you. It will enumerate your shortcomings. It will compose entire epic sagas about the things you are not and may never be (I once cried for an hour because I was never going to be on MTV’s Real World. I don’t even want to be on that show–and I’m too old for it now anyway–but the fact that I wasn’t “one of the pretty people” was devastating to me that day). It will tell you just enough truth to make you think it’s all true, and then it will sucker punch you in the gut.

And one of its favorite lines is “you’re a failure”.

But now you’ve got a bit of ammunition to use against that one. I fail at things, you fail at things, we all fail at things. Nobody is perfect, as they say, and if they were they would be spectacularly boring. You are not meant to be perfect: you are meant to be flawed and bumpy and lumpy and have baggage, because that’s how we connect to each other–it’s like rock climbing, where you rely on the craggy bits and broken-off parts to make it to the top. If it were “perfect”ly smooth, you’d slide right the heck off.

Failing at things is ok, gang. You’re allowed to fail at things. You’re allowed to fail spectacularly sometimes, because that’s how the quickest learning gets accomplished. You’re allowed–heck, I’d argue that you’re required–to be imperfect.

So the next time the inner demons come nosing around, remind them that failure is an event–a thing that happens and is done, whereas you endure. Explain that you’ve got plenty of time left to sort out what went wrong and take a different approach tomorrow. Tell them to sod right off, because you’ve got gloriously fail-full living to do.

And if their voices get too loud, if you (or someone you love) find that you just can’t seem to shout them down, please also remember that you’ve got backup: you can always, always, always call the folks at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. You can reach them at

1-800-273-TALK (8255)

and they have all the time in the world to listen, to care, and to help connect you with other folks who will also listen and care. You’re not failures, kids, you’re humans. And we love you for it.

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Dancin’ Buffalo

First, you need to read (or re-read) William Morris’s beautiful blog post, “She Dances“. Trust me. You have five minutes to spare for that. Grab a tissue.

…/waits

…/hands out hankies

Are we all back? Have we dabbed our eyes and are ready to continue?

Now here’s why I had you read that (“I told you that story so I could tell you this one…”): that school that he talks about, the Driscoll School of Irish Dance? Well, they recently moved to a location close to my home; and since the Morrises are in our neck of the woods three times a week for classes, we’ve been trying to have a more-or-less weekly Extended Honorary Family Pizza Dinner with them on Fridays. And a couple of weeks ago, over pizza and bruschetta, Michelle–the Mom–mentioned that DSID was starting an adult class for ultra-beginners, and she’d signed up. She showed me the new shoes she’d gotten, and was excited if a little nervous, and I thought it was all terribly nifty and was appropriately excited for her.

And then I went home and thought about it. “I’ve never had a dance class,” I thought; “maybe I should consider signing up”.

‘Cause, y’know, what the world really needs is a buffalo hopping around like she thinks floors are sturdy enough for all that.

But the more I thought about it, the more appealing the idea seemed. I mean, really, what’s the worst-case scenario here–that I hate it? That I’m terrible at it? That I break my damnfool neck? It’s not like it’s a “dance flawlessly or the entire world gets nuked” situation; if it turned out not to be for me, then I could just, y’know, not do it anymore. No harm, no foul. So I signed up.

The first class was last night at 7:00, and because I’ve got some significant Trust issues and Change issues and “OMG NEW THING IN A NEW PLACE WITH NEW PEOPLE EVERYBODY PANIC” issues, I spent most of the afternoon in an increasing state of fear; by the time class actually rolled around, and I was there in my workout pants and my oh-god-it’s-too-bright-almost-lurid-isn’t-it turquoise t-shirt and my sneakers-but-oh-god-everyone-else-is-wearing-ghillies-and-I-am-the-weirdo-already, I was frankly considering running away and joining the circus while there was still time.

Michelle was gracious and enthusiastic (if also a bit nervous), and she introduced me to some of the other folks in the class, which helped–and Michelle, if you’re reading this, thank you. But you know what also helped? When I walked into the dance studio, Katie (the dancer from the blog post above) smiled and did a little finger-wave. And it reminded me of “She Dances”, and it all kinda settled in for me at once: this is a school that was completely and totally ok with having a student sit under the table for three weeks. The teacher wants you to learn and have fun, because she’s teaching something she loves and wants to spread that love around, and she is not even a little bit interested in being judgmental. Heck, she told us several times during the course of the first class that as long as your feet end up in more or less the right place at more or less the right time, you get to say you’re doing it right. Which is good, because that was about all that most of us could realistically muster.

So last night I went to my first-ever-in-life dance class. I did not die, I did not puke on anyone, I did not fall over or cause others to fall over, and I did not get all the steps right. I did not break through the floor, I did not shatter any mirrors, and I did not discover that I am immediately competition-ready with a bit of minor tweaking. I was a completely ordinary student–one wearing a larger shirt size than everyone else in the room, but otherwise ordinary in every way.

And y’know what? It was so much fun. Like, hordes of flocks of scads of fun. Like, I’m already looking forward to next week (my knee would like to express its dissent with that statement, but my knee can go jump in a lake).

And aside from a (very) basic knowledge of a few basic dance steps, I also came away from class with a renewed understanding that while I can’t deny the cattiness of Society at Large, when you shrink down and examine the microcosm the vast majority of the judgment you encounter comes entirely from within your own head. I talked with one of the other dancers about this after class; she said that she hoped nobody was watching her because she also was not an instant dance prodigy, and I told her that while I hoped it wasn’t offensive to hear this, during the class she completely fell off my radar except as a cylinder moving through space that I probably should try not to hit, kick, or otherwise damage. I was focused on myself, the teacher, and the mirror…and that was it. I didn’t have time to judge anyone else, because I was busy trying to hop-two-three and what-was-that-crap-crap-something-two-three-four in time with the music.

So today my plan is to hunt around online and see if I can find some good dance shoes, and maybe see if I can’t find some videos so I can practice during the week, and spend some quality time trying to really let the non-judgment lesson take hold.

‘Cause, y’know, really–if the teacher, who has been at this for a very long time, says I can do it, who am I to argue? Ain’t nobody judging me but me–and my inner demons can go jump in the lake with my knee.

In my head, I was all Riverdance all the time. The reality was probably something more like this. Which is totally ok--lookit how cute he is!

In my head, I was all Riverdance all the time. The reality was probably something more like this. Which is totally ok–lookit how cute he is!

 

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P Is for Pretty

Last week my friends participated in a Fun Way to Pass the Time that was making its way around Facebook; this one was the Alphabet Game, where you ask a friend to assign you a letter, then you take the letter you’re given and post it on your wall, and ask other friends to come by and leave you a word (or short phrase, depending on how you play) that describes you and begins with that letter. If they want, you can give them a letter too, and thus it keeps going and everybody gets lots of fun compliments.

As it turns out, this is also an excellent way to hunt down the latest hidey-hole of your inner demons. Here’s how: My friend had a letter on her wall, so I gave her an appropriately complimentary (and accurate) adjective, then requested a letter of my own, for kicks’n’grins. And the letter she gave me was P.

So I went to my wall, posted the letter and the instructions for the game, and waited for the responses to start coming in; and about a half-hour later, I realized my shoulders had tensed up a little bit, because I had spent that time brainstorming possible responses, and what I had come up with was Portly, Plump, Pudgy, Porcine, Piggish, Prudish, and Pissy. The most complimentary thing I’d thought of was “Persnickety”, and even that’s pretty borderline. And yes, I know these were my friends that I was polling, and so they would theoretically come up with nice things to say about me, but I, in all seriousness, could not for the life of me think of even one thing that started with P and which I perceived as both accurate and non-pejorative.

Not. Even. One.

After a little while I came back, braced myself, and checked for comments. And you know what the first one said?

I quote: “Poet, philosopher, philanthropic, pleasant, persuasive. Should I keep going?”.

And that was followed by “Prism, as in, filled with rainbows and capable of spreading them around.”.

Eventually I also collected “Perfect” and “Pleasantly Pedantic”, among others, but I tell ya, those first two were like … I dunno, like a fist of love square to the gut. I think I actually, literally said “oof”.

Because of all the words I had brainstormed, not even one of those had made the list. Heck, not even the spirit of any of those had made the list. I’d gotten so mired in the voices of my inner demons that it hadn’t even occurred to me that there might be another voice out there with a different opinion.

Now here’s the real kicker, the “coulda knocked me over with a feather” response. Hold onto your hats.

The “Poet, philosopher, philanthropic” responder came back to my comments to tell me that her daughter had requested that she add “Pretty” and “Positive” to the list.

Pretty.

And Positive.

For a bit of perspective, the daughter in question is 12. And for a bit more perspective, she’s got Asperger’s Syndrome, which means a lot of different things to the various people it affects, but in her case, one of the symptoms is that she calls things like she sees ’em, whether or not what she’s saying is technically considered socially appropriate. Thanks to her parents’ patience and constant coaching, she’s learning how to respond to social cues (from what I can tell, it’s kind of a call-and-response thing for her–seeing a grimacing face means “stop talking”, for instance); and sure, she fudges a little bit on the truth sometimes, because as Dr. House has often quipped, “Everybody lies”, and besides, she’s a preteen girl. But if you ask her for an opinion, you’ll want to brace yourself, because she’s going to give it, without embellishment or facade, with absolute honesty and exactly zero tiptoeing. Personally, I find this kind of refreshing, but that’s neither here nor there; the bigger point right now is that She Who Does Not Do Much BS-ing called me “Pretty”.

Me.

Pretty.

Look, she’s a smart kid. I can’t imagine she doesn’t know the word “plump” by now, and it wouldn’t surprise me a bit if she knew “porcine”. She reads a lot, y’know.

But instead she went with Pretty. And Positive. To go along with Philanthropic and Poet and Pleasant and Prism.

/blinkblink

So the good news is that I found another splinter cell of inner demons, and am currently working on beating it to death with a big psychic letter P with the word “PRETTY” written on it. It’ll take a second, I’m sure, but the drones have reported their location and we’ve sent in a strike force. Stay tuned.

The other takeaway is this:

thoughts-e1317945585137

I thought–incorrectly–that I’d put my friends in a predicament where they were going to have to figure out the polite way to say “piggish”. I thought that I might come back to find people trying to tap-dance delicately around the words “pouty” and “prude”.

I thought that I might have no responses whatsoever, because people would decide that if you can’t say anything nice, you shouldn’t say anything at all.

And as it turns out, I was dead wrong.

So that’s your Something to Think About for today, ‘Tracters: what are some things that your inner demons tell you which, if you asked anybody else, would be diametrically opposed to the responses that you receive from outside your own head? What are some of the things you currently think about yourself which are just dead wrong, at least from an outsider’s perspective?

Is it possible, even a little bit, that if you asked a 12-year-old who pulls no punches, she would describe you as “Pretty”, no matter what the fears inside your skull are saying about you?

It’s true that you’re the expert on your own reality. That is absolutely true.

All I’m saying is that every once in a while, it might be worthwhile to check in with the outside voices. There’s a very real chance that you’ll be blown away by what they have to say.

 

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I Can Wait

You know what I wish I had?

A Weasley family clock from the Harry Potter books, that’s what.

Like this one.

Like this one.

I’d have a great big one, with all my loved ones on it (presumably I’d also have a big clear wall upon which to hang it), and I’d use it to keep track of when it was convenient for me to poke people–if they were listed as being “In Class”, for instance, I’d leave ’em alone. Ditto if it said “At Work”, or “At Dinner”, and I wouldn’t really count on a speedy reply if (heaven forbid) they were listed as “In Prison”.

And above all, I would use it to track when people were listed as “Traveling”.

Here’s the thing: it snowed overnight here in the middle of the country. Not particularly heavy snow in our area, and not particularly nasty sleety stuff, but, y’know, just some snow. Enough to make the lawn white and the dogs reluctant, and enough to make the roads a little tricky this morning.

And since I’m kinda fretful like that, I kept an eye on Facebook this morning to make sure everyone reported their uneventful arrivals at their various destinations–status updates like “Made it to work; would rather be in bed”, or “What a stupid day to have to go to school, especially since I walk”. And it was all going pretty well, until I saw a person mention that they’d been passed on the highway by someone who was texting.

Texting while driving.

On the highway.

In the snow.

Now, ordinarily this is where you’d see a full-blown Buffalo Tantrum. But it occurred to me, while I was working up a good head of steam for maximal shouting effect, that perhaps the problem–aside from a problem with misplaced priorities–is that we don’t have Weasley clocks.

Right now, for instance, I have a pretty good sense that Moon Man is at work, probably finishing up his lunch in the break room. More to the point, I’m reasonably sure that he is not currently driving anywhere, so I feel 98% confident that if I needed something from him, I could text him safely.

I do not, on the other hand, know where my younger brother is. He’s a truck driver, though, so there’s a decent chance that he is on the road. If I needed something from him, then…well, actually, if I needed something from him, I’d probably text his wife, because she’s more organized. But that’s not the point.

The point is that since none of us actually has a Weasley clock, we’re usually just at the mercy of habits and patterns to figure out where a loved one is at any given moment, and by extension, whether it’s safe to poke ’em about anything. And since I have the blessing of having a lot of people I love, this is honestly something of a craps shoot for me most of the time.

So I want to say something to all of you–everyone I love, everyone I text, everyone whom I will eventually love and periodically bother–for the record, right here in front of god and everybody:

I. Can. Wait.

I don’t have the benefit of knowing magically if you’re on the road when I text you…but I do have a deep mistrust of people who text while they drive. I can’t accurately guess what you’re up to at any given moment of the day, at least not for most of you, but I can guess that I am going to be very, very angry with you if I find out you took your eyes off the road to answer my presumably pretty unimportant poke.

I can tell you without any hesitation whatsoever that there is nothing–nothing–I will ever say to you electronically that is anywhere near critical enough to be the last thing you ever read. There is nothing–nothing–I will ever say to you electronically that is anywhere near critical enough to cause you to injure or (heaven forbid) kill someone else.

If I am having an emergency, there are people better qualified than you to help me with it. If I am sad or lonely, I have a lot of other loved ones. If I have a question about something, Google exists (and if I may brag a little bit, I have mad Google Fu).

Yesterday was Dad’s birthday, and I spent a certain portion of it crying quietly to myself because we had to celebrate it without him. We lost him to cardiovascular disease; these things happen, because bodies eventually give out.

I cannot tell you how angry I will be with you if I have to spend your birthday crying quietly to myself because you decided that answering my text was more important than paying attention to the road.

So let me say this again, just to make sure it’s crystal-clear in your mind: I. Can. Wait.

Please respect me enough to ignore my texts if I happen to poke you while you’re driving. Until I get my Weasley clock, I can’t guarantee I won’t accidentally pester you while you’re on the road; so I’ll just rely on you to guarantee that you will never, ever answer a text I send at a dangerous time.

If you love me, you’ll let me wait.

I promise to do the same for you.

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Fancy Holiday Shindig: The Recap

Who has two thumbs and is not in jail? This gal right here!

That’s right, kids: Mama BW went to a Fancypants Office Holiday Shindig and did not, I repeat, did not get herself arrested for spilling cocktail weiners on the CEO! Neither did she catch anything on fire (not even one thing! And there were even candles on the table, so, y’know, I rule), nor trip and fall on any longsuffering jazz musicians (despite there being a smooth jazz band right there, which is really just tempting fate), nor profoundly insult or embarrass anyone (that I’m aware of; I suppose it’s possible that there are grudges being nursed as we speak).

In other words, I went to a Big Grownup Party full of Big Grownup People and I survived…and so did everybody else! I’ll be signing autographs after the show.

For the curious, here’s how it went down, presented in convenient compare’n’contrast form.

The Fear: I admit, I was envisioning something similar to an eighth-grade dance. Y’know, chairs or tables in a ring around the room, dim lighting, all the cool kids in a cluster while all the rest of us smile vaguely at everyone in the hopes that at least we can avoid being actively shunned.

The Reality: This was not the company’s first rodeo, so they had conveniently pre-assigned seating in such a way that everyone had at least one friend/colleague at their table. In our case, we were seated with Moon Man’s Work BFF (and Bestie’s wife), both of whom are people we like a lot and have spent time with outside of the office. Voila! Conversational ice = broken. Score one for the home team.

The Fear: The invitation said something about drink tickets. I don’t drink much, so there were two equally terrifying possibilities: either I would be confronted with a full bar, in which case I would have to try to remember the name of any drink I enjoy (I usually default to White Russians, but really, who wants to carry around a glass of boozemilk at a Fancypants Party?!? Or, god help me, I could go with something ultra-shishifufu like a chocolate martini, but yowza.); or I would be presented with a wine list and have to figure out whether there would actually be any discernible difference between the Chateau de Schloofenfloogle 2007 Crisp Pillowy DandyFeathers Made With Fondled Grapes of Indeterminate Origin and the Damn the Man 2009 Vive La Revolution We Don’t Believe in Color Distinctions Made With Grapes That Actually Volunteered to Be Pressed.

The Reality: Again, not the company’s first rodeo. There was a bar–three of ’em, from what I could see–and they all offered your choice of beer (here are your four-count-them-four options) or wine (one each of red, white, and what I believe they call “rose” but which I secretly think of as “contaminated white”). I gave the nice lady a drink ticket and asked for “a glass of white wine, please”, and she asked exactly zero followup questions and poured my wine, which I then moseyed and sipped like I knew what I was doing. Score another one for the home team!

The Fear: Flying food. Oh, god, so much flying food. And extravagant spilling of sauces, and epic crises involving entirely too many hors d’oeuvre napkins and no trash cans (do I stuff them in my bra?!? Carry them around like trading cards?!? And what if there are things on sticks?!?).

The Reality: Have I mentioned that this wasn’t their first rodeo? There were discreet trash cans all over the place for your napkin-disposing convenience; and while there were things on sticks (chicken satay, to be precise), they were small portions on small sticks, so at no point did I have to figure out how to minimize the obscenity–or bloodshed–involved in deep-throating a skewer. And when dinner service rolled around, they had fashionably small plates, so that even if I had managed to spill my wild mushroom demiglace over someone, the most I could’ve spilled was about two tablespoons. Not that it mattered, because I didn’t spill anything! Not even one thing! …Ok, there was one bit of mushroom that made a mad escape attempt from my salad plate, but I caught it with my boob and the salad dressing ended up conveniently hidden in the printed pattern on my shirt. Tell no one. Score another for the home team!

The Fear: Wearing heels for the first time in months + the expectation of dancing = doom. Doom, doom, doom. Also possible YouTube immortality.

The Reality: Not their first rodeo. No dance floor. Please sit at your table and enjoy this nice smooth jazz rendition of “I’ll Be Home for Christmas”. Score two for the home team, for dual crisis avoidance.

The Fear: Company photographer taking official portraits, which means you know they’d catch me while I was attempting to shovel in an unreasonably large slab of roast beef and laughing at something someone had just said, so I’d look like a psychotic land shark let loose to terrorize the populace. Also, there would be salad in my teeth.

The Reality: Their first rodeo? Nope! They had caricature artists stationed around the room, so you could only have your picture done if you wanted to, and everybody looked a little ridiculous in their pictures.

Here's ours. Look, Ma! No lettuce!

Here’s ours. Look, Ma! No lettuce!

My takeaway from this whole experience, then, is that this is another one of those situations where a person with fewer trust issues might have an easier time of it but a rational mind can still win the day: Moon Man works for a company that is very invested in maintaining a positive image and doing nothing to hurt their brand, so of course they’re going to have ironed out the bugs by now. Of course they’re going to have sorted out how to make everyone feel welcome and included. Of course they’re going to do everything they can to prevent people from making fools of themselves. They want to continue their track record of lovely and successful Fancypants Office Holiday Shindigs, and have been at it long enough to be able to predict most of the fail points and take preventive actions accordingly.

In other words, whether they knew it or not, they’d spent the last 20 years figuring out how to Buffalo-proof their Fancypants Office Holiday Shindig. And they’d done a darned fine job of it.

So watch out, kids: we’ll be back next year. And who knows? Maybe during the intervening months we’ll take ballroom dance lessons. Y’know, just in case.

 

P.S.–Am I the only one who didn’t know that they made nametags with magnets on the back now instead of safety pins?!? That was seriously the most mind-blowing part of the entire evening for me. Nametags that don’t leave holes in your clothes or sticky residue on your lapels…whodathunkit?!? That’s some crazy alchemical magic right there.

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Filed under General Musings and Meanderings, Play Nicely

Ain’t It a Laugh? Ain’t It a Treat?

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHASaveMe.

Seriously. If you need a babysitter tonight, hit me up. Sudden emergency? Call me. Happen to have a vial of smallpox you need to get rid of? Come on over, and we’ll put it in my coffee. For you, I will be Patient Zero, because I’m just a giver like that. I will come help you push your car. I will come give you a kidney. I will help you move to Tibet.

I just need you to need me before 7:00 tonight.

Here’s the deal: Moon Man started a new job this year, and tonight is their annual Swanky Office Christmas Party. It’s “cocktail attire”, and the invitation says things about wine and hors d’oeuvres and dinner, and it’s at a fancy-dancy hotel where famous people stay when they come to town, and and and…

Here, I’ll draw a circle around all the swanky dinner parties I’ve attended in cocktail attire at fancy-dancy hotels:

0

Well, wouldja lookit that: it’s a zero.

And I am freaking all the way out.

Look, I know I’m a nice person, and you know I’m a nice person, and we all know I’m clever and entertaining and funny and thoughtful and all those things–at least, people tell me that I’m all those things, and when I’m feeling generous with myself, I choose to believe them. But here’s my dirty little secret: I am ZOMG so unbelievably bad at meeting people in social situations. Like, impressively bad. Like, I could write a book about how not to do this.

And lest you think I’m being a touch melodramatic, I offer this proof: A couple of years ago, a meme went around Facebook. You were supposed to pick a number and inbox it to your friend; then that friend would address you by number in a status post about you, something like “Dear #42, I’ll never forget meeting you for the first time in that class we both hated in college. You still owe me for the answer to question 15 on the final, btw. Ha! I joke. But you made that semester tolerable, and we’ve been friends ever since. Love ya!”. For kicks and grins, I picked a number and sent it to several friends, so they could say nice things about me in a publicly private sort of way, and I sat back and watched as the comments came in.

And here’s the punchline: the vast–vast–majority of them started with “I was really, really unsure about you when we first met at [that party / that friend’s house / that event], and I didn’t think I was going to like you at all”.

Ba-dunt-tschh!

It’s all a function of my introversion and social anxiety and trust issues and my absolute conviction that I do not “fit in” with polite society, and I get that–I tend to come off as aloof and guarded, and am spectacularly bad at small talk (Moon Man will argue that point, because he thinks I’m quite good at it, but what he’s referring to is my ability to chat trivially with friends while I’m referring to my inability to make polite noises at strangers). More often than not, my defense mechanism involves sitting very still in a corner of the room, trying to make myself as small as possible (no mean feat, given my body size), and smiling vaguely at everyone who crosses my path so that I’ll at least look harmless.

Net result: people don’t much like me when they first meet me, at least if we meet in a highly social situation, especially if it’s a situation where everybody knows everybody else and I’m the odd duck out.

Now, granted, all the Facebook statuses about me ended with things like “…but you grew on me and now I love you to little tiny pieces”, but still. And y’know, I can’t even be offended by it all, because it’s just so true: I am really, really, really uncomfortable in social situations, at least the ones where I don’t know anybody. Once I’ve learned the “rules” of a group, and have sorted out the patterns of expected behavior, I’m good to go…but for some perspective, it’s taken me the better part of three years, with parties and get-togethers and events sprinkled throughout, to finally get to the point where I’m comfortable–and in some cases, enthusiastic about–spending time voluntarily with the folks I now consider my friends.

Three. Years.

So you can imagine how I’m a little stressed out about tonight’s Swanky Shindig: I’ve never been to an event like this before, so I don’t even know how these things are supposed to go generally; I have no idea what the social conventions are among this group of people particularly; and I’ve only met a handful of ’em in the first place, and most of those were ten-second introductions at a barbecue six months ago, so I’m going to be surrounded by strangers who know each other. And remember, even the people who like me tell me that I’m a tough nut to crack, and that their first impressions of me were…let’s go with “unfavorable”.

So I think I’m going to approach this like I approach most Big Scary Things: I’m going to think of myself as an Ambassador, and go for the benefit of anyone else who is spending today freaking out, as a show of solidarity and support. When we joined a gym a couple of years ago, I went in with the attitude that yes, I would probably be the biggest person there, but that might help inspire other FatChicks to give it a go, and we could all be FatChick friends and work out together (for the record, this failed miserably, but it was a valiant effort); similarly, I reckon being the Vaguely Smiling Terrified Person in the Corner might make other VSTPCs more comfortable, and maybe we can all huddle together and try to figure out what you’re supposed to do with your drink glass when you’re done with it (seriously–do you, like, leave it somewhere? Do you just carry it around all night? There should really be a posted set of rules).

…Unless I get called away to handle an emergency, that is, or jump-start someone’s car, or watch someone’s kids, or help a bride put together her wedding invitations, or just about anything else.

Seriously. I’m there for you.

All of you.

Anytime.

Just call.

(help)

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Filed under General Musings and Meanderings, Play Nicely