Posts Tagged ‘pity party party of one’

I need a root canal. Deciding that the tooth pain was bad enough to warrant a dental appointment wasn’t super fun. Confirming that I needed a root canal – first at my dentist’s office, then at the endodontist – was agony. 

The dentist kept saying he was sorry for causing me pain, even though the whole point of the tests he was doing was to elicit pain. It was kind, but I have that reflex where I say, “that’s okay” or “it’s not that bad” in response to someone apologizing, which felt a) silly and b) untrue. 

The endodontist did not apologize; not in a sadist-y way; he was kind, but just sort of stood there watching me clutch at my jaw as tears leaked from my eyes. He also offered me an Advil. His tests – which were very similar to the ones my dentist had done, just 30 minutes earlier – elicited a MUCH higher pain response. One test – he put liquid nitrogen or something on a swab and swabbed my tooth – hurt so bad that I cried. And then I felt ridiculous for crying. I tried to comfort myself by thinking that I couldn’t be the ONLY person to ever cry in that office; that must be why the assistant had tissues at the ready for me to dry my tears.

My dentist thinks, based on how nervous I get for dental work, that I need some sort of extra medication. Either something like V@lium or @tivan prior to the appointment, or conscious sedation during the procedure. He said, kindly, “That’s what I would recommend for my wife; she gets nervous about dental work. But I’m just telling you the options – you don’t need it. I wouldn’t do it, myself. Dental work doesn’t bother me.” Which made me wonder: ARE there people who are unbothered by dental work??????? This was a wholly novel concept to me. I figured that there was a spectrum, of course, from moderately nervous to requiring sedation just for a simple cleaning. But I never once imagined that there exist human beings who don’t mind dental work. 

(As for my spot on the spectrum: I get nervous for a simple dental cleaning; I clench my hands into fists, my arms and legs are rigid the entire time, I have to do anti-anxiety breathing while I’m in the chair, waiting for the exam to begin. I did a LOT of focused breathing today, let me tell you. And then cried in my car all the way home.)

The thing is, for me to do any sort of pre-medication, I need someone to drive me to and from the appointment. And my husband is unlikely to be able to do that anytime in the near future, if at all. And I don’t know that I have any friends who I would feel comfortable asking. So I am feeling very sorry for myself indeed. I suppose there is always Uber, but I have never once used Uber so that’s another hurdle to surmount.

Part of the reason I cried in the car (aside from the lingering tooth pain following the swab) was that I felt so ridiculous about crying. The crying was bad enough on its own. But then I couldn’t stop crying. And even when I finally got the actual tears under control, I still had Wobbly Voice. Ugh. I couldn’t stop thinking of that awful anesthesiologist who commented on my ability to withstand pain when I was in labor. Maybe I have a very low pain threshold, and other people are going around dealing with similar or worse pain without being fazed one bit. And maybe everyone thinks I am a huge baby who is making a mountain out of a molar pain. And I am FORTY YEARS OLD for floss sake, why can I not just GET IT TOGETHER like the adult I supposedly am instead of acting like a whiny child? 

This is just the latest in a run of negative self-talk that I can’t seem to squash. It started with my writing and has since spilled over into every other aspect of my life. 

I am suspecting – and hoping – that it has at least something to do with the calendar: both the monthly calendar, which has spun right around to canker sores and chocolate cravings, and the annual calendar, which has turned once again to the anniversary of my friend’s death. Not to mention, we are now sliding down the dark slope of fewer hours of sunshine each day and facing the looming pressures of the holiday season. 

While I do my focused breathing and wait for the calendar to flip a few pages forward, if you have any advice for how you pull yourself out of this kind of self-talk tailspin, I would greatly appreciate it. For now, I have self-medicated with Trader Joe’s macaroni and cheese and some of my only-on-the-weekends good tea. And, of course, I am blabbering it all to you. (Thank you for listening.)

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Hello! I’m so glad to see you! Please, allow me to take your hats and mittens. Head right on into the kitchen and I will get you a hot drink.

Can you believe we haven’t gotten together like this since two years ago March? I know! Time is a wild wolverine, full of teeth and impossible to trap. In today’s session, I would be so grateful for your advice on pandemic birthday plans – mine, in particular – so please put your party planning hats on. 

But before we get to that urgent agenda item, it seems critical that I fill you in on what an exterminator emergency is. Or at least, was, in the case of my particular exterminator postponement. (Carla speculated that it was bees! in the walls! which would indeed be an emergency, holy hot honey, but it was not that.) I asked our exterminator during his visit (after I determined that he and his loved ones are all okay, phew, may he live a long and healthy life) if he could satisfy my curiosity. Turns out it was a Live Mouse Issue. My mind, as you might imagine, went immediately to a room teeming with mice. But alas (for my imagination, not for him or his client), it was a single mouse that was alive and in his client’s kitchen. His poor client was, how shall we say?, dealing poorly with the appearance of the mouse. (My exterminator, in his low gentle drawl, “Lady was hysterical. What’d she think I can do? I am not a house cat.”) He was able to – 

LOOK AWAY to the next ALL CAPS paragraph if you don’t care to learn about the (non-graphic, I promise) demise of a mouse…

— Have you looked away yet? 

— Here is some buffer space for that pesky peripheral vision. 

– trap it on a glue trap because it was already clearly very sick from ingesting poison and did not want to move much at all. And then he… disposed of the mouse. May it ascend to a cheese filled heaven. 

— Buffer space for the lookers away —

— More buffer space in case your eyes are more curious than your brain —


Photo by Polina Tankilevitch on Pexels.com

All right, Party Planning Committee. On to the topic at hand, which is my birthday. I turn 40 later this month and I am feeling pre-mopeful about a) turning 40 and b) not being able to make A Big Deal about it. 

This is ridiculous for many reasons, the top being: We are in a pandemic, and no one who is not a Kardashian is getting the birthday celebration they want. PLUS, even if we were not in a pandemic, I am not A Big Deal kind of a person, and would feel stressed and anxious about any sort of Big Deal being made over me, so why I am wistful over the lack of A Big Deal is a mystery for the stars to solve. 

And yet I am full of self-pity because I am Fun. 

So! I think what I need to do is, you know, buck up. And then plan some fun things so that I can look forward to the day if not the event. And that’s where you come in! Because we are in a pandemic! And many of my ideas will not fly! 

Let’s establish a pre-pandemic celebratory baseline here.

Normally, for my birthday, I prefer to have a day off. I like to go get a massage, maybe a facial, maybe a pedicure. I like to do absolutely nothing at home – no cooking, no dishwashing, no anything. And I like to go out to a favorite restaurant, drink some yummy wine or champagne or cocktails, and stuff myself with something delicious and decadent. But of course I am not going to places for a massage these days nor am I going to restaurants. 

For me, A Big Deal would look something like the above, but maybe with a babysitter for Carla and maybe another couple or two would join us for dinner, and then maybe we’d all go bowling afterward or head to a bar for margaritas or come back to my house to play board games. I remember one birthday when my husband and I went on a brewery tour with couple friends of ours; something like that would be an awesome way to spend my fortieth.

Of course, once again, we are not hanging out indoors with other people nor are we going on indoor tours of places, especially those involving taking off your mask to drink things, nor are we hiring babysitters, or going into bars or bowling alleys, or inviting not-my-exterminator other humans into our house. 

In the Before Times, my husband (who turned 40 last fall with MUCH LESS WOE-IS-ME) and I had talked about the two of us, plus Carla, going to Europe as a joint birthday hurrah. That would have been delightful, but I have zero desire to get on a plane anytime soon. 

So. Those are the things that are NOT happening. 

What can I do instead? 

Here are the very minimal plans I have already made:

  1. I have requested that my husband make me lemon pudding cake, which is delicious. 
  2. I ordered two cute tops from StitchFix that I have had in my cart for awhile PLUS I ordered myself a Fix, to arrive on my birthday, which I haven’t done in ages because a) I have nowhere to wear Real Clothes and b) I have gained so much weight during the pandemic that I haven’t wanted to buy any new clothes. 

Here are some additional things I am considering:

  • Good food. I am tossing around dinner ideas: would it be nice to make tacos at home, because I love tacos? Or maybe we could order takeout from our favorite Mexican restaurant? Or maybe we could try one of my other favorite restaurants that we haven’t visited since before the pandemic – and order steak or a burger or something that seems really risky (to me) as a takeout option. Probably best not to wing it on my birthday; nothing adds to the self-pity like a lukewarm soggy-bunned hamburger in a Styrofoam container.

  • Perhaps we could find a movie we haven’t watched yet and watch it. I have no idea what this would be; the new Amy Poehler movie doesn’t drop until March, so that one’s out of the running and I haven’t heard of anything else.
  • A game night? My brother got us The Deadbolt Mystery Society for Christmas. Maybe I will request that my husband and I start that as a birthday treat. 
  • Near-birthday happy hour with friends. I haven’t had a virtual happy hour with my back-home friends for awhile. Maybe we could set one up on or near my birthday. Probably not ON; I wouldn’t want it to be about me, just about our normal catching up and chitting chat. But doing it the day before or day after my birthday might add to the fun anticipation. 
  • Special sweets. Perhaps I will buy some Reese’s peanut butter hearts and snack on those all day. Ooohhh or order myself some Shari’s Berries, which I haven’t had in years.

Beyond these things – which are surely more than adequate in and of themselves – what can I do to make the day feel More Special? What would YOU Do?

I know for sure that I don’t want to request that my husband set up some sort of birthday parade; I can see how those would be so fun and bolstering for some people, but I would find one for ME to be stressful. I also know for sure that I do not want a big family Zoom session, which Carla had for her birthday and which she recommended with great enthusiasm for my birthday. 

A dear friend of mine, who also turned 40 this year, said she and her family did a virtual beer tasting together. Something like that would be really fun, but I am guessing it is too late to plan it and even if not I would feel weird planning it for myself.

For my husband’s fortieth, our little family went on a long-weekend trip to a nearby state. We stayed in an Air BnB and ordered takeout and did outdoor activities and it was a lovely little getaway… but that seems less fun/doable in February, and I’m guessing we would have had to plan it in advance.

If you have had a birthday during the pandemic (most of us have, by now, gloom gloom gloom), what did you/someone else do to make it more special? Or was there something, in retrospect, you wish you had done instead/also? Have you thrown any virtual celebrations for anyone this year that went particularly well? – or badly, I would want to know if something went badly. Or do you have a birthday coming up – yours or someone else’s – for which you are already tossing around plans? If so, I would like to hear all about it. No plan is too simple or too extravagant or too specific to you that I don’t want to hear about it!

And, of course, if you just want to complain about birthdays I am always here for that.

Photo by Polina Tankilevitch on Pexels.com

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The exterminator just called and told me one of his other clients has an emergency and would I mind please changing our appointment to next week. Um, no, of course not?! I don’t even want to THINK what might constitute an extermination emergency, so please, go help the poor people who need you. We can live with our silverfish for another few days. Anyway, now that I don’t have to flit fretfully around the exterminator while he does his work, I have an extra free hour or so in which I should be writing to kill, so let’s chat a bit, shall we?

It’s ironic that I should use the word “chat,” because I just left a lengthy complaint on Swistle’s latest post about how my wonderful, beloved child has been extra chatty in the mornings lately. To counteract the bad karma of complaining about my cherished daughter, I will effuse to you a bit because she is just SO FUN to talk to these days. (When it is not six-forty-five in the morning and when we are not trying to get out of the house to be somewhere on time.) She has so many questions and it’s fun to a) discover what’s going through her brain and b) see if I have a reasonable answer, or will have to leave her with the unsatisfying-for-all-of-us response of “we’ll have to look it up.” (My favorite chats take place in the car, so we cannot look it up just then.) She likes to ask about word origins, which can be fun to discuss, especially if I have a little insight into the etymology of whatever she’s got in mind. For instance, she might say that “rhinoceros” is a funny word, and I can point out that “rhin” is from the Greek word for nose and we can marvel over how appropriate a name it is for that particular animal. The other day, she asked me why singers use curse words in their music, I assume because she has been listening to some Ariana Grande and Justin Bieber songs that have lots of bleeped-out words. So I got to teach her a new word (“profanity”) and talk about why some people choose to use profanity, and why it’s not always a good choice, and then she got to say some curse words in the guise of asking me questions about them which is always fun for a seven-year-old to get away with. Our conversations are a delight. And fill me with confidence in her curiosity and intellect that I hold up as a talisman when I overhear her and her friends changing “Old Town Road” to “Old Town Butt” and then every other word of the lyrics is “butt.”

This has been a good week for writing. I was feeling, last week and over the weekend, Extreme Self-Pity (the book is terrible, I’m never going to finish, I’ve wasted my life, I’m a failure and everyone knows it, etc. etc.). Maybe indulging in my own personal pity party spurred an overcorrection because I’ve been writing my little fingers to the bone all week. (This round of revisions still isn’t finished.) (But it’s eking ever closer.) Or maybe it was written in the stars…

Astro Poets is the one true source of all my cosmic guidance.

While this is nearly a decade too late to be an “update,” yes, we still have silverfishUsually they pop out once or twice a year, springish and fallish, but we’re having a little burst of them right now. Four sightings in the past week, plus a Very Unpleasant Incident in which I went to squish a silverfish that was chillin’ above my daughter’s bed right where the wall meets the ceiling, and instead of squishing obediently, the silverfish JUMPED OUT of my Kleenex and disappeared into my daughter’s bedding. And then, after my husband and I jointly and confidently assured Carla that no self-respecting silverfish – especially one that had recently been the victim of a near-squishing – would stay on the bed near the sight of said squishing, and if by chance it WAS on her bed, it was assuredly DEAD… and after we carefully took apart her bedding, piece by piece, examining each stuffed animal to ensure no silverfish, it was of course under her pillow, very much alive… and then after I attempted to re-squish it, it AGAIN leapt from my Kleenex, causing me – the person trying to be calm and unperturbed about something as harmless as a silverfish – to shriek in front of my daughter. (I did get it, in the end, and squished it and flushed it so it is doubly dead.) Don’t get me wrong – I’d MUCH rather have silverfish than many other creepy crawlies (or whatever constitutes an exterminator emergency; I really can’t stop thinking about what that may be). But I can’t say that we co-exist peacefully: they are so wiggly and have so very many legs. The exterminator – who is the same lovely sixtyish/seventyish-something gentleman who has been coming out to our house two to three times a year for a decade now – blames the silverfish on the number of books we have. I guess they like paper? But I have lived in homes full of books all my life, and this is the only house that has ever featured silverfish, so I’m skeptical and have not done anything to pare down our home library. I am looking forward to seeing the exterminator, for the reason of the silverfish, of course, but also because he is older and has been visiting people’s homes in a pandemic and I’d like to put eyes on him and make sure he’s okay. Aside from the microwave installation people, he is the only non-immediate-family-member who has been inside my house since last March. Which is weird. 

In bragging news, I went to the grocery store today and scored ANOTHER bottle of bleach spray. My supplies were depleted a little because I scrubbed the grout last weekend and used up most of a bottle of bleach. (I also gave myself pretty serious chemical burns on two of my fingers, though they are mostly healed now.) I also picked up (we are back at the grocery store now) a bottle of different new-to-me Lysol (I still can’t find the lemon scent I prefer). This one has more of a typical antiseptic scent to it, with maybe a slight hint of orange, and I bought it because I need an occasional break from the  mango-and-hibiscus Lysol I bought last time. I’m still going to use the tropical one of course; in a pandemic, one shouldn’t look a cleanser horse in the mouth, even if it is very sickly-sweet and gives me a headache. The grocery store seemed to be almost entirely back to pre-pandemic stocking levels. The only aisle that had anything resembling bare shelves was the cleaning products aisle; even the paper products aisle had shelves bursting with paper towels and toilet paper. Of course, no Grape Nuts or bucatini, but we will survive without.

This one gives off real no-nonsense cleaning-expert vibes. Unlike its frivolous, perfume-loving counterpart who would totally blow off work to go get daiquiris.

Most days, I am okay with our pandemic way of life. I mean, I don’t LIKE it, and obviously I would prefer that everyone would wear a mask and vaccines were abundant and distributed quickly and efficiently so we could return to a pre-pandemic way of life. But mostly, I am getting used to it. About time, since it’s been going on for nearly an entire year.

I feel very fortunate that the isolated nature of our lives these days suits my personality and lifestyle. I already worked from home; I’m socially awkward; I’m an introvert. Once in awhile, though, I so start feeling lonely. And I want to figure out some way, any way, to interact with other non-immediate-family humans. I used to go through that cycle in The Before Times, too, where I’d go for long stretches without seeing anyone… and then I’d overcorrect by setting up a coffee date AND a dinner date AND a family get together all in the same week… which would completely exhaust and overwhelm me into swearing off human interaction ever again. Still happens, even now that there is really no such thing as having a social life. Carla and I are going to our outdoor sport tomorrow and will see a bunch of her friends and their parents, which will be good. And then on Sunday, my little family will be doing another outdoor activity with friends we haven’t seen since Halloween. Which will ALSO be good. But I am pre-exhausted and pre-overwhelmed by the thought of all this socializing. At least I’m not the only one.

My husband just got his second-round vaccine. This is such a HUGE relief; in a few weeks, he should be (mostly) protected from Covid-19 and I will worry about him MUCH LESS. Plus, my parents’ state has opened up vaccine registration to their age group, so they are on a list and should get their first round soon. Woo hoo! My brother and sister-in-law already got vaccinated because they are both front-line workers. Which leaves only six near-immediate family members to continue worrying about. I mean, I always worry about ALL my family members, but I can downgrade the threat level for a few of them now.

The asparagus is gone. But not eaten. It looked fine, but at some point I started to notice a faint garbage-y smell emanating from our fridge so I threw them away. Sorry asparagus. Wasn’t meant to be. 

Speaking of vegetables, I am continuing to work on increasing Carla’s vegetable consumption. In the car after school yesterday, she announced, with great conviction, that she HATES vegetables. (She is discouraged from using the word “hate” except in cases where she feels most strongly.) I had to remind her that she likes lettuce and sugar snap peas and green beans and red peppers and tomatoes. (“I only EAT green beans and red peppers, Mommy, I don’t LIKE them,” she informed me. “And bell peppers and tomatoes are FRUIT, not vegetables.”) Getting her to eat veggies, especially NEW ones, requires creative thinking. The other day, I decided to renew my efforts to get her to like broccoli. She only likes the broccoli “floof” (relatable) but claims not to like broccoli at all. (When she was younger, she would eat it frozen OR cooked with cheese sauce! I don’t know when she stopped liking it!) “You just haven’t found a preparation you like,” I said. So we did a taste test. One floret of raw broccoli; one floret of raw broccoli dipped in ranch; one piece of roasted broccoli with salt and olive oil; one piece of roasted broccoli with lemon juice; one piece of roasted broccoli with parmesan. To increase the Fun Factor (wood board my life is sad), I made a survey for her to fill out as she tried each candidate. The results were not promising. 

Carla has her own food priorities.

I think I am in a bit of a book slump. After my gloomy post the other day, I decided the best remedy for Feeling Down was to pick up a good book. I finally, after many, many months, downloaded The Heir Affair to my kindle and read it. I knew it would be exactly what I needed – funny, fast-paced, engrossing, well-written, totally removed from the real world – and indeed it was. Everything I hoped it would be and more! I LOVED IT. But I finished it in two days and am now casting about for what to read next. See? Book slump. And it’s not for want of books! (See above re: silverfish vacation destination.) I have SO MANY books both on my kindle and on my bookshelves/nightstand just waiting for me to read them! I am, in fact, in the middle of three separate books (a trait I get from my mother, apparently), each of which is very good, and each of which is completely not what I’m looking for at this particular moment. Which is The Heir Affair again. Or its prequel, The Royal WeOr The Holdout, which was another book I could not put down. That’s what I want: something completely absorbing and unputdownable. But it also shouldn’t be sad. Or… deal with anything too heavy. What is the most unputdownable, semi-light-subject-wise book you’ve read? Or, if that’s too specific, what is the most absorbing book you’ve read recently? 

A mix of books I have and have not yet read.

Well, it’s not actually SUNNY outside right now, but the clouds are high/thin enough that there is something approximating light streaming through the windows. And I can’t tell you how cheering it is, in all its diffuse dimness. I will take what I can get!

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We are somehow nearly halfway through January and I feel simultaneously as though the month has FLOWN by and also that it has lasted six million years. Much of it – at least the past week – has been extremely dreary and fretful, both for external reasons (what is HAPPENING with our democracy) and internal ones. But even though I am feeling down and worried and unsettled, I feel like my complaints are so small and insignificant that they aren’t worth sharing. There is SO MUCH going on in the world right now, my dumb complaints sound even more out-of-touch than normal. 

Like for instance how my return key does not work unless I press down on it with all my weight. Or how I am FINALLY getting to clean my oven (with the self-clean function) and so my house is filled with the acrid scent of imminent doom and also a soupçon of pizza essence. Or how I had to wait for more than an hour in the gynecologist’s crowded waiting room yesterday which a) I am SURE was the reason my blood pressure reading was much higher than normal and b) is making me Very Anxious about the likely unrelated fact that I have a scratchy throat today. Or how I have been working extra hard on revising my book and the whole thing is stupid and I am wasting my life. I really need to suck it up and stop wallowing.

I hope YOU and your loved ones are doing okay. And, honestly, if you had a small, insignificant gripe to share with me, it would make me feel better. Or not, that’s fine too. If you just want to scroll listlessly through my dinner options, trying valiantly to get up the motivation to think about making Yet Another Meal, that is a-okay with me.

Dinners for the Week of January 12-18

Over the weekend, I tried these Sheet Pan Cuban Chicken and Black Bean Rice Bowls (which Ernie mentioned recently), and they were delicious and a 100% keeper. They got me in a mango mood, so I have a bowl of mangoes ripening on the counter which is one good thing to look forward to, I suppose.

  • Sweet and Fiery Pork Tenderloin with Mango Salsa: Speaking of mangoes, this is what we’re eating tonight. I have made it several times in the past and have always found the pork to be a little… weak in flavor. Today, I threw all the ingredients in the crockpot, added a bit of soy sauce and some minced ginger and garlic, and we’ll see if that does anything. 
  •  Fish Taco Bowls 
  • Fire Fry 
  • Chicken Shawarma with Steamed Broccoli
  • Tacos: The regular ground beef kind, per Carla’s request. I am going to have her make them, since she has been voicing some disappointment about the meals on offer lately. She seemed pretty pleased at the thought.

I also have some zucchini and asparagus in the crisper, for spur-of-the-moment stir fries or protein-and-a-veggie-side options.

What are you most looking forward to eating this week?

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Yesterday we had a Parent Appreciation Luncheon at Carla’s school and I am still reeling from the experience.  Reeling may not be the right word. Perhaps “steeped in self pity” is more accurate, I’m not sure, I am destined to fail at all things including appropriate word choice.

At the top of the luncheon, all the kids in the entire grade got up and did a little song and dance routine. It was very cute. And then they got to usher us to our seats in the cafeteria and then we all ate lunch(eon) together. There was a lot of down time at the beginning while the teachers corralled all the kiddos and got them pointed in the right direction. Which meant that there was plenty of time for me to be SUPER socially awkward and inept and anxious about it.

Let’s just get one frustrating thing out of the way right up front, which is that my husband wasn’t able to make it to the luncheon. And yes, he’s on call, and yes, I’m sure there were single parents in the mix, and even in the case of two-parent households, I’m sure that other parents weren’t able to make it, and/or they have been at their jobs longer than my husband has been at his and feel more comfortable taking off in the middle of the day and/or have spouses who were more persistent about reminding them to find some way to take the time off, but it SEEMED like every child there had two parents except Carla, including two other physicians, which at baseline made me a) feel guilty and b) feel lonely. If my husband had been there, I could have at least talked exclusively to him, instead of sitting there mentally rending my garments as I tried desperately to gather the courage to go talk to someone.

While we were waiting for the kids to set up, I saw another mom that I have been friendly with in the past. If I’m being honest, I wish she were my best friend: she’s so lovely and put together and smart and friendly and kind. She started talking to me, which was nice. But then one of her friends came up to us, and the two of them started talking, and I started to panic. Was I supposed to join in the conversation, about things they have in common and about which I know nothing? Was I supposed to excuse myself and go… stand in a corner? I ended up doing neither, and just stood there silently with what I hoped was a calm, friendly, I’m-a-good-listener smile plastered on my face and nodded along with them. They were nice about it, making eye contact with me occasionally as though I were part of the conversation. It’s not like I was entirely mute; I tried to make interested-sounding noises even though I was much too panicked to focus on what they were saying. And then another friend of theirs came up and joined in and I just kept standing there, my anxiety flinging itself against the inside of my brain like a fish trying to escape its tank, and I tried to ask questions where I could – but they were obviously “I am making conversation” questions and not “I’m part of the conversation” questions, you know? – and tried to laugh and continue to make “I’m totally taking part in this discussion” noises. And the cafeteria was super hot and I started sweating and I became uncomfortably aware of the inside of my mouth and how my breath could not be great even though I definitely brushed and flossed before I came. And I didn’t know the other moms at all, or who their kids were, and – as is always the case anyway – I couldn’t figure out the rhythm of the conversation well enough to interject with a new subject or a related anecdote or a pertinent question. Not that I could properly follow along with the conversation anyway; as I mentioned before, I was too focused on all the THINGS going on in my head to focus on what they were saying.

Finally, a teacher called us to attention and we got to watch the kids’ little performance, which was a nice break. The ladies I’d been “talking with” drifted off to find their spouses and I stood by myself, clutching my sweater (why had I brought a sweater when clearly I’d entered one of the flaming hottest circles of hell???) and my purse and my desire to leave immediately and/or melt into the floor.

And then it was “luncheon” time, and once again I had to navigate the extreme horror of talking to a parent I don’t know that well. This time, across the table. Unfortunately, this parent was either as shy/uncomfortable as I am, or she had already written me off as no use to her. So my lame attempts at conversation were met with single word answers and apparent disinterest. You’d think this would be a good thing! Lets me off the hook, right? But instead, I kept trying to make lame small talk because I wanted her to like me. Obviously she wasn’t talking to me because she’d written me off as Not Worthy of Her Time, right? Okay, okay, so possibly she was having her own inner freak out about having to talk to me and fending off similar worries. Either way, I don’t hold it against her.

Fortunately, Carla was with me at this point, so I could direct most of my attention to her. But as we lunched, I was very aware of all the other parents in the room, laughing and chatting and having a great time. I mean, I’m pretty sure I wasn’t the only person in the room who doesn’t like groups/crowds/forcible mingling. But it never FEELS like there are others. Instead, it feels like everyone else finds social interaction super easy, and, not only that, but fun, which I find incomprehensible. I long for “easy.” Fun is a pipe dream.

Finally, when I was able to escape, I ran into a couple of familiar couples on the way down the hall. They are all super nice and friendly, but they were in couples, and seemed to be talking to each other, and plus one of the women was the woman whose friend-group I’d horned in on earlier and she was almost certainly done with conversational babysitting, so I tried to smile and make nice friendly noises, but then I motored on past to leave the school and get in my car and go far far away. And as I was doing that, I was mentally chiding myself for avoiding them instead of trying to interact with them. You can’t make friends with people if you dart past them every time you see them! Friendships are not built on awkward smiles and waves and “have a great day”s tossed over your shoulder! (Why not, though?)

And I DO wish I were friends with more of the parents at Carla’s school. So many of them seem great! But the way you get to know people is by talking to them during these school events, and I get so flustered and self-conscious that I just can’t do it. It’s moderately okay one on one, but when there are two or more people, I stop being able to think. I have no idea how to join the flow of conversation. I have no idea what to say. I often walk past little clusters of moms in the hallway after drop off and wonder what in the hell are they talking about?!?! I have no clue, absolutely none.

And then I go home and feel horrible, as I did yesterday. And the bad feelings remain. I feel lonely and isolated, which are terrible feelings to begin with. But then I also feel culpable, because it’s my own fault I don’t have friends. It can’t be THAT hard! Other people do it all the time! There must be something wrong with me that I am always and forever on the outside.

Hence the pity party.

We have a big Parent Breakfast coming up, as part of the kids’ transition into kindergarten. (KINDERGARTEN. Let’s reserve that panic attack for another post.) So I anticipate more of the same sweaty awkwardness and wallflowering and self-loathing to follow in a few short days! Yay!

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