In Which Introversion Can Be Fun

18 November 2003

So the first thing today, as priorities go, is a cleaning cartridge for the printer. We tried cleaning it yesterday. No dice. It has gone beyond unpleasant and into unusable. Last week it was unprofessional, but I figured Lizard could read the two or three funky lines a page. This week, it's worse than that. It's just illegible. I'm hoping the cleaning cartridge does okay, or the instructions (if any) on the company website. Otherwise, I'm going to be buying a new printer this week, and that was not in the budget for either time or money. There is a "stuff that wasn't in the budget" component of the budget. But I'd still prefer not to use it on a new printer just this minute.

On the other hand, I need a functional printer, period. I have to send out two stories (one rejected last week, one yesterday -- from Realms, so at least I know on that one), a personal letter, and two business letters related to the anthology. And it's only going to get more necessary from here, because eventually people are going to reject my stories. Or accept them and ask for edits. Or something like that. And eventually I will be finishing more stories. So. Clean printer and DMV, those are the "outside" things on today's "immediate priority" list. Here at home, I'm going to make chicken soup for ourselves and the neighbors, and I'm going to edit a story for the anthology, and I'm going to write articles, and if I can manage to work on some of the details that need to be done or on a story or anything like that, great. But with articles to write, I think it's best to set a specific number of "really have to" items and leave the rest as optional.

I finished reading Lady Knight and enjoyed it, but I'm still glad Tamora Pierce has gone on to something besides the "another girl knight" thing in Tortall. I'm going to start Gregory Frost's Fitcher's Brides this morning; just now I'm still on the introduction to it.

I managed to sleep in until 8:00 this morning, which is almost a record for me these days. But I was pretty whumped after not sleeping well the night before, so I needed it. Yay, sleep.

So I was reading along in my morning journals, and Matt said, "Most interesting to me was that when it was time for an organized group activity, both Indy and Simon [his toddler daughter and nephew] decided to shun it and play on the 'playground' with each other or by themselves instead. It's exactly what I'd have done in their shoes, and while it made me proud to see, it also made me a bit sad. It's a rough life being nonconformist and introverted. You get rewarded in the end, but if I had a dollar for every moment I wished I could be happy listening to pop country music and enjoying Coors Light while watching pro wrestling and talking about football with some guys, I'd probably be able to buy our house outright."

And I read that and thought, really? I couldn't. Even not knowing how much Matt and Jen's mortgage has left on it. Even substituting wine coolers for the Coors Light, "Friends" for the pro wrestling, and makeup for the football to make it the girly equivalent. (Maybe especially then.) I've been no more of a part of the "in crowd" than Matt has, at least not until I got to define my own in crowd as the crowd I was in. And there have been times, especially in the past, when I was put into situations that would have been easier for a conformist extrovert. But I wished myself out of those situations, not into being someone else.

He goes on to say, "I wish I could spare Indy (and Simon) the inevitable loneliness that comes from thinking that the status quo is pointless and unsatisfying, but I guess that sitting around and getting your entertainment force fed to you is what America is all about." (I assume he means currently, since I don't think the Founders had a lot to do with force fed entertainment.) And...there were times when I found it lonely. Yes. But mostly I don't really know what life would be like, being satisfied with a status quo, and I think it would be boring. Not having anything you wanted to improve? How awful. The loneliness is temporary, but the blandness would be forever. The status. Always quoing.

I don't feel particularly beleaguered or beset as a minority here. A lot of people enjoy things I don't enjoy. Many of them give me funny looks for it; most don't bother. Since I enjoy things they don't, sometimes give them funny looks, and mostly don't bother, it works out okay for me. Maybe if I'd had more trouble finding kindred spirits in the world, I'd feel more sorry for little kids who are absorbed in their own ideas and don't always want to join the group. Maybe it's just that I've had groups that I can enjoy but I don't have to have them. For me, that kind of independence wasn't a reward in the end, it was a reward at the time. And it still is, and I feel sorry for people who don't know the mental state that makes it possible to get caught up like that. One of the things I love about little kids is when they sing little songs to themselves and do something entirely incomprehensible with their toys, and then out pops a sentence that makes it all make even more and even less sense at the same time. And it doesn't even matter to them if you're in the room or in the next room or on the next planet down, because they're doing something that's theirs.

This may explain a lot about the friends I tend to make.

It could be that Matt is more of a classic introvert than I am. Or it could just be that he's been in worse situations for an introvert than I have. Still, I'd be relieved if it was my kid wandering off on her own or with her cousin. I'd be relieved, because the idea of a child who cannot entertain herself quietly is terrifying to me. Because if I get handed a classic extrovert, not only will I have no idea what to do with her, but I will have no one in the extended family to turn to in order to find out. And by extended family, I mean both by blood and by choice. Some of us are not extroverts but play them on TV (or, more accurately, at parties). But I'm hard-pressed to come up with a classic extrovert at all. And I have a fair-sized family, counting both blood and choice.

It's true that our culture is set up to encourage extroverts, I think; it's true that little kids are assumed not to have anything that's theirs the way my books are mine. But the nice thing about being an introvert is that it's very easy to do by yourself or in a small group, kind of by definition. If you're an extrovert in a culture of introverts, you aren't going to be able to create a crowded sports bar on a small salary. You aren't going to be able to force the herds of introverts around you to have parties with dozens or hundreds of guests. You aren't going to be able to force them into opening up with loud, Bud Light-scented cheer. It is much, much easier to be an introvert in a society of extroverts than vice versa, because we generally have doors we can close, internally or externally. Firmly. Repeatedly, if we have to.

I guess what I'm thinking is that it's better to have a few moments of unhappiness when you're pressed by the crowd than to rely on the crowd for all your moments of happiness.

The Meyers-Briggs test always shows me as a flatline on I vs. E, because they measure things that don't make a lot of internal sense to me. Do I get energy from being around people? Umm...which people? For how long, and under what conditions? And am I able to overcome being utterly drained by being around people for long periods of time, if it seems necessary or good? Those are the questions they don't ask. Context, context, context.

On a completely unrelated note, it's a good thing I read the DMV page before heading off. I need to have my birth certificate, my marriage license, and my California driver's license. Well, crud. I guess I know what Mom and Dad are adding to their list to bring with them from Omaha when they come.

A year ago today, I was homesick and quoting Fezzig and working on contract work. And if I had to choose one out of three to get rid of, I think I got the right one. And two years ago today, I grumped at commercials and Else Roesdahl. Every once in awhile I glance back at the old journal entries, and I think, oh, yeah, that was this time of year. I'm much better at placing what I was doing in mid-November in college than I am at figuring out what mid-November of last year was like. And November of last year is anomalous, compared to the rest of last year, because it was surrounded by markers: at the beginning of the month there was World Fantasy Con, and at the end there was Daniel visiting for Thanksgiving. It's just that time and California didn't go very well together for me.

Looks like time and today are getting a bit mixed up as well. I'd better be off.

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