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I've got three days off work, and I began today with all sorts of lofty plans of what I was going to do because I had childcare and free time. How I was going to study, and clean the house, and organise our filing system, and make and return phonecalls and find the cure for cancer while the dishes were drying.

But then I got up and I decided all I really wanted to do was be as unproductive and slovenly as possible. I stayed in bed until noon. I read a novel. I caught up on my friends list. I waxed 1.5 legs. I managed to summon up enough industry to make a cup of tea and liberal application of smoked salmon and mayo to a toasted bagel. It is now almost 5pm and I am still in my pyjamas.

To further chronicle my lack of accomplishment I tried to do the photomeme going around, but didn't have the mental stamina to scan and sort and upload the required photos. Then I tried to transfer from my phone a video of Matei walking like our simian ancestors (his new trick and one he is very proud of) but forgot how to. I

I would feel bad about wasting time like this, except tha I often fantasize about just having a simple day off from Life And Parenthood and Serious Adult Stuff, and today I have, and it was indeed glorious. So I'm trying to tell myself that I deserve it and leave it at that.

Mostly though I was thinking about the 1.5 hour presentation I need to do this Friday and then after-party being hosted by 17 therapy students from Sweden. And a part of me is hugely looking forward to it (the part of me that is inspired by words such as free food and drink and fun baby-free fun times) but a part of me (the greater part) is somewhat meh at the prospect of the socialising and small talk.

And I've been trying to work out when it got this way because it wasn't always so.

I certainly had no confidence problems as a child. Until my father died I thought I was the bee's knees and was shocked when someone didn't seem delighted by me. After my father died the Silence took hold of me. Set up residence. I couldn't bear to speak for fear that my composure would shatter and that I'd utter not words, but howls. Because there were no words. Only a fortress of remembrance and forgetting. Only a well too deep for tears.

And then I moved to a different country where I didn't speak the language and didn't know the customs or the social rules, and the silence inside just solidified. And by the time I learned the rudimentary English the other children had long since decided I was a weirdo and there was hardly anyone to talk to.

12 was a bright spell of near-normalcy. I could speak English fluently, I had a friend, I had my first boyfriend, and the Silence began to retreat before every delightful thing I discovered. But then 13 came and my friend moved away and my boyfriend dumped me and I sprouted body hair and deep-seated body image complexes. I still considred myself some measure of cool, but my attempts to talk to people were by and large grossly inappropriate. This neatly ushered in 14 and my Dark And Broody stage which lasted for nearly a decade.

I developed an interest in heartbreak and cynicism and the occult, a penchant for melancholy and a longing for deep relationships. I kept wanting to scratch and unearth the hidden core of life, of people, of me. And while I sometimes made deep and satisfying connections with freaks like me, by and large I think I sucked at parties.

When I went to Uni the Dark Broodiness abated slightly and I lived a glorious giddy couple of years of discovereing my social side - the joy of flirting, of superficial chatter. And then more sadness came and it shut me inside of myself. Walled me up in a tower of solitude with the secrets I would keep, with the memories I would recover.

I was torn between these two selves - my gay, amiable, funny persona and the deep core of woundedness which vied for control of my mental space, until at one point it became difficult to talk to people. The beginning of livejournal marked another heyday of joyous socialising. It lasted until I met Z and began to spend more and more time with him.

My social thang was still going strong though, until Matei was born. And then afterwards I just lost the knack. It was literally something like 7 months until I could commit to a conversation without needing to look at what mayhem he was up to every 2 minutes. And even what baby-free time I had was often spent chatting about babies because that was what my life had become and I was too underslept to think of anecdotes.

Once upon a time I was a natural at flirtation, at conversation. Nowadays I often feel tired and my words come out stilted and funny-sounding - like the phrases of a language I used to know. People were so interesting once. Now my circle of interests has substantially narrowed. I'm rusty on small talk.

So I worry that when I meet all these people on Friday all I'll be able to think of is 'So what do you do?' although perhaps in the spirit of Relational Reflexivity (which makes up a significant part of my presentation) I could at least work it into : 'If I were to ask you what you do, would you find that monumnentally dull?'

What about you, you gay young things? Is there anyone who loves small talk? Or is it a necessary evil before we can stop pretending to care and hit the booze?


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 2nd, 2009 06:01 pm (UTC)
I can only access my deep and fascinating well of small talk after hitting the booze. So no, I would have to side with you there. I think almost universally, small talk is the most dreaded aspect of social interaction, particularly when you meet someone you just don't gel with and you find yourself in an endlessly repeating circle of pleasantries and nothingness. From that point of view, I'd say recognising the inherent difficulty of finding topics of conversation by saying "if I were to ask you what you do, would you find that monumentally dull?" is actually quite a good tactic.

Best of luck for Friday. I'm sure the free food and wine will help things flow rather well.
Mar. 14th, 2009 02:24 am (UTC)
I think drunken relational reflexivity is going to be my new icebreaker at all parties.
Mar. 3rd, 2009 11:48 am (UTC)
it all depends on who the other people are, for me - some people, even if I've never met before, can be lovely and the conversation flows without any effort. Other people I can't find anything to say to, and they me.

then again I often wonder how everyone else in the world does the social interaction thing so well. Y'know, just hanging out with other people, 'cos it's fun. I don't understand...
Mar. 14th, 2009 02:23 am (UTC)
Y'know, just hanging out with other people, 'cos it's fun.

I always wonder how many people are pretending. :)

Although I also know that you think really deeply about things like this, and I guess other people may just enjoy without thinking about it at all.
Mar. 4th, 2009 07:50 am (UTC)
I'd go with the booze myself.
Tho a wisewoman once told me that while alcahol does not solve ones problems it does make them more interesting.
Mar. 14th, 2009 02:22 am (UTC)
Heh. Still true.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )


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