Category Archives: Being Social

We don’t have a word for the opposite of loneliness, but if we did, I could say that’s what I want in life…it’s not quite love and it’s not quite community; it’s just this feeling that there are people, an abundance of people, who are in this together. Who are on your team. When the check is paid and you stay at the table. When it’s 4 a.m. and no one goes to bed. That night with the guitar. That night we can’t remember. That time we did, we went, we saw, we laughed, we felt.

Marina KeeganThe Opposite of Loneliness: Essays and Stories 

(via The Sexual Intellectual)

Advertisements

You Must Be This Black to Play This Game…

Boo and I went to his coworker’s birthday party last night. From the way the invite sounded, I thought it was going to be a big party with lots of people to mingle with, and so I wasn’t worried about it. That’s an environment I can handle fairly well. But as soon as he told me it was going to be “a pretty intimate house party type deal,” I started to get nervous. I can count on probably one hand the number of times I’ve been to a house party thrown by a Black person, and the only time they’ve been intimate types of ordeals is when the host has been a friend of mine for years and years.

It had been described as a 90s party and guests were encouraged to dress up. He and I busted out our baggiest jeans and tried to play into 90s style as much as we could, and I felt really self-conscious about my outfit, but I was telling myself it would be okay because everyone else was gonna be dressed up too. But nope. Literally one other person really went for the 90s look, and we’d been there for at least 2 hours before she showed up. *cue starting to feel out of place *

We started off playing a game where a post-it note with the name of a Black figure who was popular in the 90s was put on our backs and we had to try to guess who we were using only yes or no questions. As soon as mine was put on my back, boo laughed and said I was never going to guess it. He was right. I was the last person standing. Everyone tried to give me lots of hints — I knew that my person was a female basketball player and the first woman to dunk. But I don’t think I can name a single female basketball player outside of Britney Griner. And I told everyone that. The host eventually took pity on me and swapped me out. I had been Lisa Lesley apparently. My next post-it note was Peppa from Salt n Peppa and I got that fairly quickly with help from people; it was funny because a Salt n Peppa song was literally playing in the background when I was guessing.

After I guessed that, we switched to playing a game where we had to name the artist who sings the song being played as soon as possible after the host put it on. Boo was killin the game. Music is soooooo his thing. Hip-hop is not my thing, and old school hip-hop from the early 90s is particularly not my thing. I’d never heard half of the songs and often hadn’t ever heard of the artist either. There was one other girl who didn’t grow up listening to Black music either, so I felt some solidarity with her. Our host took pity on us towards the end (are you noticing a theme here?) and played some, like, Goo Goo Dolls and No Doubt and Matchbox 20 for us to guess. I got the Goo Goo Dolls song before the words even started and boo was like, shocked, haha.

But I guess people really liked the “guess who you are” game because we somehow started playing it again and kept it up for the rest of the night, though we changed it a little bit to be that one person stood in the center of the room with a person in mind and everyone else asked them questions to try to figure out who they were. Shots were involved at varying points if you asked too many questions or got wrong answers — at one point boo was supposed to take a shot and I took it for him cuz he’s a lightweight and he called me “my heart” and it was adorable. But anyway, it was hours and hours of like, nonstop Black popular culture trivia — first just from the 90s, then from any time frame. Everyone was sitting around in a circle just playing this game. When I heard there were gonna be games, I imagined like, Cards Against Humanity or Apples to Apples or something — I was in no way prepared for what actually went down.

I was sort of holding my own for a little while — I guessed that someone was Tina Turner, and that another person was Bill Cosby. When you guessed the person right, you were supposed to go up to the front and have everyone try to guess who you were. But I did not want to stand in the middle of this room in my outfit — I basically looked like the guy from that meme with the black turtleneck and baggy light jeans and belt and chain, except I didn’t have a chain — and I wasn’t sure my knowledge of any Black celebrity or character was encyclopedic enough to withstand the group’s battery of questions, so I always passed my turn and gave it to other people.

Then there came a person whose turned lasted for what felt like an hour. Everyone was really really confused. Eventually the host took herself out of the game so she could see who it was and try to help the group guess. She pointed to all of the men in the room (except boo, as she later explained because she has this idea of him as too innocent to know who this person was) and said that they would know her, which convinced people that it was some stripper or porn star. It was revealed to be some porn star, that everyone in the room but me had heard of and either found funny or found it funny that that was who they’d all been struggling to guess for so long. I don’t know. But I’d never heard of this person, and everyone else was laughing uproariously, and I felt like I wanted a magical hole to open up underneath my seat and just swallow me. I wasn’t in on the joke.

I said that I didn’t know who this person was, and someone said something to the effect of, “You know, from Worldstarhiphop?”. I told them that I’ve never been to that site. This caused general reactions of incredulity. I was told that I’m missing out. I responded that it’s a thing my 19 year old little brother is into, so by definition not a thing I’m about.

I had been fairly tipsy and in a good mood, but that whole situation literally killed my buzz. After that I didn’t get any answers for a while — the hint or question that was supposed to give the answer away kept being something I didn’t know about the person. I didn’t know one of the Williams sisters has a chronic disease, for example. I can’t recall any of the others, but each one kept piling up to paint, for me, a picture of a whole world I’m not plugged into. I think that the only two I got for the rest of the night were both boo’s. He was The Rock and then he was Gerald from Hey Arnold. He commented on me getting both of his, and I told him “I may not know Black pop culture, but I know you.” This game was draining. I felt like I was being put to the test and not doing very well. I hate this phrase, but I didn’t feel like I was Black enough for this game or this party. I wanted to be the fun girlfriend that gets along with all of his coworkers and blends seamlessly into the group, but by the end of the night I definitely felt like the stereotypical annoyed girlfriend who just wants to go home while her boyfriend is having fun.

And he was having fun. He was having such a good time and I was happy about that because he’d been nervous about this party too, and generally gets nervous about interacting socially with the people he works with, and I felt like I was fucking that up and I didn’t want to do that. I wished that I could just go home and leave him there having fun. But we were an hour away from his apartment and needed a ride to the metro, so that wasn’t a possibility. There were no other conversations going on for me to join, no way to do anything but try to play along with this game and gchat BD on my phone to tell her about the situation. Everyone was in on the fun but me.

Being in situations that highlight just how different he and I are, in our backgrounds and our interests or whatever, is hard for me sometimes. It makes me feel like we don’t make sense as a unit, like we’re a round hole and a square peg. Encyclopedic knowledge of Blackness is a thing he strives towards, so this was a great environment for him. But like, hip-hop culture and celebrity culture are both not things I’m about. Most of the time the topic being discussed on Black Twitter today is some shit I’ve never heard of and don’t really care to know about. This is not the person that I am, and I just wanted to get the fuck out of there before I embarrassed myself further.

This manifested itself when he tried to put his head on my shoulder and I pulled away. I wasn’t upset with him at all — I was just trying to hold my shit together and not look as miserable or as bored as I felt, and cuddles do not contribute to keeping my game face on. He and I barely spoke for the rest of the night until we got home at like 2am and he thought I was angry with him and I was just upset about everything and I cried at him and I’ve been doing that very often recently and just, blahhhhh.

Day 26: Quality v. Quantity #30Layers30Days

Do you prefer to take life slowly, leaving space and unplanned time to breathe and process everything?  Do you prefer small, intimate gatherings?

or

Do you prefer to keep yourself busy with every moment scheduled, always on the go, energized by the hustle and flow?  Do you prefer to be surrounded by lots of people?

Ah, the classic introvert v. extrovert question. I’ve been wondering if it was going to come to this — I’ve already commented that some of the posts have felt “too introverty” for me (though I’ve been able to answer them all, so I’m not quite sure what that means about my assessment of my own levels of introversion…).

In fact, even online Myers-Briggs tests get confused about whether I’m an extrovert or an introvert. Every time I take it, my E/I type and/or percentage change. These days I most regularly show a slight to moderate preference for extroversion over introversion. I guess I agree with that? The first question in this prompt is intended for introverted folks, but it resonates with me more deeply than the second question. Where introverts usually lose me is in their preference/need for time spent alone. I can handle an evening to myself now and then, but there is almost never a time that I could be given the option of spending time with someone(s) I really care about and choose to spend the night by myself instead, unless I’m in dire need of clean laundry or something.

Boo is definitely introverted. I suppose I have become more comfortable, for instance, staying in for most of the weekend, since we started dating. But like, inside there are snuggles and there is not a need for pants. I identify as an extrovert mostly because the statement “I draw my energy from spending time with people” really really resonates with me — he is top tier level energy-resonance for me, so spending all weekend in with him is an energy boost, whereas laying around in my undies wrapped in blankets and watching Netflix by myself all weekend would be quite draining for me.

I like doing things out in the world. I like having things on my calendar to look forward to. I try to bring those opportunities into our relationship without pressuring him into too many social outings. I think we’ve been balancing it pretty well for the most part. What I don’t like is being busy for the sake of being busy. I spent my first 6 months of big city life doing that, and I felt it running me into the ground. Giving myself permission to be able to say, “Sorry, I’m not going to be able to make it…” was life-changing. Crowds for the sake of crowds are similarly not a thing I’m about — but I love spending time with groups of people who are important to me. Like, I would take Reunions over one of the Drink the District festivals any day of the week.

I like to have easy access to people, but not necessarily to be surrounded by them all the time. For instance, I live in a large group house with 7 roommates. But I spend most of most nights in my room by myself — I can socialize when I want, but I can entertain myself on the internet just as easily. I like that. I’m not sure I could ever live by myself. When would my board games get played? Who would eat my cookies?

I think I’m most extroverted in the summertime. My summers are so heavily scheduled — every weekend someone is visiting, or I’m going somewhere to visit someone. I wear only dresses and stand in the sun and celebrate my friendships and myself. Then as the weather turns, I settle down into a bit of a hibernation.

Day 18: Intimidation #30Layers30Days

What kind of people make you feel intimidated, small, inferior?  Why?

People who seem cool. That’s such a difficult word to define. It often revolves around exuding confidence (or at least coming off as though you’re not awkward). Examples include people who are more publicly outspoken about things I’m into than I am, or wear identities we share more boldly than me, or are really into “cool” things like hip-hop or activism or fashion or dance. Bloggers who have real followings. People whose creativity/artistry/talents I admire. I think these things could be broadly summarized as people who have figured out a) what their passions are and b) how to wear them in public.

Also people who are very informed about topics I know little to nothing about, particularly when they’re having conversations about them at dinners or parties I’m attending and I cannot contribute to the conversation at all. This happened to me at a dinner for my roommate’s birthday two weeks ago, with a bunch of her international relations buddies. It was awkward. I was hella quiet.

I always assume that people who I kind of know or who run in the same circles as me and with whom I have never had a legit conversation don’t talk to me because they think I’m uncool or boring or beneath them or whatever. It surprises me how often I learn it’s because they feel awkward too.

Also gay women I find attractive on online dating sites, because babyqueerness.

Sometimes the combination of being a generally social and busy person and being poly has me like: 

 

Scheduling is a struggle sometimes. Something came up with [Lady] when I was supposed to see her on Tuesday, and we had to push it back til this coming Monday because EY and her boyfriend are in town visiting me, which means it’ll have been over two and a half weeks since I’ve seen her! I’m really looking forward to that, regardless of the fact that it has been circumstantially pre-determined that this fourth date will not be the date on which we start spending time at my house post-real world activities. And I will hopefully get to stay over at [Booskie]’s place after going to a work goodbye happy hour on Wednesday, though that’s not officially confirmed quite yet. I’ve got my fingers crossed it works out, though, otherwise we’re probably looking at toeing the 2 week line as well.

Either way, there is quite some time standing between me and snuggles, and watching EY and her boyfriend be cute is not helping matters. Le sigh. I’m too touchy-feely for whole weeks without touches or feels.

A Romantic, says Nietzsche, is someone who always wants to be elsewhere. If that’s so, then the children of the Internet are Romantics, for they perpetually wish to be someplace else, and the laptop reliably helps take them there — if only in imagination. The e-mailer, the instant messenger, the Web browser are all dispersing their energies and interests outward, away from the present, the here and now. The Internet user is constantly connecting with people and institutions far away, creating surrogate communities that displace the potential community at hand.

–Mark Edmundson – “Dwelling in Possibilities” 

(via Egyptian Soapbox)

That said, why is this unconditional love not present in (previously unfounded) human-to-human relationships? Why is it that when we see a person we might like to get to know we don’t automatically run over to them panting and lick their face saying “OH MY GOD, I’M SO GLAD I SAW YOU!!!! I LOVE YOU!!!” Why don’t we pet their head and start scratching their belly and automatically, without question, break our hard shell of self-preservation and immediately smile and laugh because, it’s just so damn good to connect with another human being?

We don’t because that would be weird.

But then, one has to ask, what makes it weird? Why are we so hesitant to love unconditionally, especially someone that we’ve never met? At what point in human history did we decide that other humans, who understandably, should be our closest allies, spelled danger? At what point did we decide to start killing each other because of an insignificant difference like religion or race?

–Michael Hendrick, Thought Catalog

How do we communicate from a place of ease, from a place that’s undefended and unguarded, in a way where we’re willing to change as our views change? It may make sense in theory—but is it even possible in real life? Are we really willing to be wrong? How do we stay open and innocent, in the moment, to reality as it presents itself to us?
My teacher used to say, “Stay in beginner’s mind. Never leave beginner’s mind,” because in beginner’s mind, the possibilities are infinite. They’re open. Anything can happen. You’re open to learn anything you need to learn. If your view of something needs to change, you’re open “for it to change. No matter how deeply you’ve seen something, no matter how much you think you know something, stay in beginner’s mind. Don’t get rigid. No matter how great a revelation you may have had, no matter how great an opening in the core and depth of your being, if you stay in innocence, in the mind that’s very light, that never takes its ideas as truth, then there will be a much greater potential for your thoughts, as well as your communications with others, to be naturally inspired.

–Adyashanti. “Falling into Grace.” Sounds True, 2009-01-01. iBooks.

(via the bad dominicana)

Those of us who love books, love to read but love to have fun too should stop conflating reading with isolation. Stop saying: “I’m boring, I just wanna go home and read,” because that doesn’t make you boring. It means you’re choosing one kind of fun over another, not doing the opposite of fun.

Prefer not to? Kevin Smokler says you should reread ‘Bartleby’ – latimes.com

(via Spinsterette)

I don’t have a rubric for always knowing when and how, a lot of this is trial and error, but I do know that a) speaking up for yourself will usually not end the world, b) you can survive making a mistake, and c) you can survive someone else’s displeasure. There is no prize for being the most world’s most accommodating person. And if there were a prize, it would be “hanging out with people who walk all over you, being afraid to speak up, and silently seething at them, forever.

Captain Awkward

(via the bad dominicana)