Wednesday, January 26, 2011

in defense of stupidly long sentences

There is no defense, and I have no defense, but I plead guilty.

Therefore I must die.


facebook is ruining my brain

I swear, I used to have an attention span. At least I think I did, back in the days when I was a kid who genuinely thought learning was fun.

Though I didn't have to, I would spend a weekend memorizing the postal codes and capitals for all 50 states, writing 15-page letters to my best friend R. (which I would then mail, even though I was going to see her at school the next day), and learning the defining characteristics of every breed of cat (did you know the majority of calico cats are female?).

My pretty calico girl Phoenix wants in from the porch.

At some point, probably when I got sick of the other kids copying my homework but making no effort to extend their friendly overtures beyond the amount of time it took them to get the information they needed, I decided to start playing dumb. I purposely answered questions wrong on biology and math tests. I stopped raising my hand in class. I pretended to think the books we were reading in language arts class were stupid (except To Kill a Mockingbird, which so totally captured my imagination that I forgot I needed to pretend. My best friend R. and I probably read it to each other back and forth over the phone ten times, and we even left Boo Radley-style gifts for her neighbors).

I like to think that somewhere beneath my current mess of daily boredom and distractions still lies the girl who would eat Hershey's minatures to the point of puking to have enough wrappers to build a cover for her book of whiny high school poetry, but sometimes I wonder at the sheer deterioration of my attention span and lack of determination. I suppose I could blame my inability to get to bed before midnight, or my infatuation with red wine, or my multitude of misguided and just plain bad choices, but mostly I just blame Facebook.

Facebook is always there, and especially now that I have a BlackBerry, it's always available. I've probably checked it 15 times while writing this blog post. Facebook is a lot like that friend who "forgets his wallet" every time the two of you go to the bar. You want to play a game of pool or hit on that hot chick, but so-and-so needs another beer, dammit, and for some reason you have to oblige.

Facebook allows me to see others' private -- and sometimes triumphant, sometimes painful -- lives in bite-size, easily digestible snippets. In fact, similar to the way obese people or alcoholics say their problems happened "slowly, and then all at once," Facebook has slowly whittled away at my ability to focus and made my natural penchant for voyeurism so accessible (I'm kind of a creeper/peeping tom -- if you leave your shades open, I will look in) that I find myself unable to finish reading a short story or watching the State of the Union address without checking the feed of status updates.

For granting me the ability to simply click a button and be barraged with an onslaught of mostly mindless drivel, I blame Facebook for reprogramming my brain to require immediate, rapid-fire channels of information and instant gratification. My own lack of self-control notwithstanding, giving a peeping tom/creeper/voyeur unlimited access to the daily grind of other people's lives (granted, carefully maintained and filtered access, but that's a whole other blog entry) is similar to giving a compulsive gambler unlimited lines of credit at the casino.

So screw you, Facebook; screw you.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

in defense of shyness

Hey bitches. I took a break, but I'm back now. Got something to say about it?

I didn't think so.

Sorry, I've been hanging out with Chuck Norris lately. And by "hanging out with," I mean "googling so I can learn how to sound tough." So there.

Being shy sucks. I would know: I’ve been shy my whole life, at times painfully so.

In one particularly awful instance, I ran out of the classroom in the middle of an oral presentation in fifth grade because I couldn’t take everyone staring at me anymore, and I got the only C of my elementary school career. 

While trying out for a play in middle school, I sprinted out of the room mid-performance, and I never attempted to act again. 

At a poetry reading in high school, I managed to finish an intensely personal rant about my shite boyfriend that would have horrified my mother, but I had something akin to an out-of-body experience – I could hear my voice, see my hands shaking, hear the paper rustling as though coming from somewhere else, as though the trauma became too much, so my brain detached. 

A few years later, during a mock-debate in a college political science class, I blacked out completely. (But apparently I did okay, because my professor asked me to join the Model United Nations club. I politely declined.)

As I’ve gotten older, talking in front of people has become easier, but being put on the spot still makes my knees shake funky-chicken style, my palms sweat, and my cheeks blush. My voice quavers, and thus begins a downward spiral that culminates in me crying in the shower with a bottle of wine, wondering what the hell just happened.

Wait, WTF just happened?

What sucks even more than being shy, though, is when acquaintances or people I don’t know misinterpret my shyness as assholery.

Here are three common misconceptions about shy people, and why you shouldn’t believe them: *

We are not stuck-up or aloof.
We may appear snobbish because we tend to stay outside the action, but shy people are introverts and observers by nature, so though we may not jump to participate in conversations or introduce ourselves to strangers at parties, it isn’t because we don’t want to. It’s because we’re scared of you. Or more accurately, we’re scared of what you might think of us.

We are not avoiding you.
This applies specifically to neighbors, teachers, co-workers, friends of friends – anyone we see on a semi-regular basis who we may only know on a surface level or in passing. We’re not steering clear of you because we don’t like you or don’t care to get to know you. In actuality, we’re nervous about getting to know you, especially if we have a friendly, cordial acquaintanceship, because we don’t want to fuck it up by saying or doing something stupid.

We do want to be your friend.
It’s true – shy people need friends, too. We just might suck at making the first move. And because you interpret our wall-flowery nature as stand-offishness, you avoid us in turn. But don’t make this mistake – we probably think you’re cool and would love to talk to you (in fact, the more we seem to avoid you, the more this is likely to be true), but first we need to know we’re not imposing and that you also want to talk to us.

* Caveats: 
  1. All of these statements become null and void if the person with whom we are shyly interacting is a total douchecanoe. In that case, we are avoiding you, we don’t want to be your friend, and we really don’t care what you think about us.
  2. If you feed the shy person booze (i.e. wine, vodka, tequila, Pabst Blue Ribbon, etc.) they will abandon shyness in favor of dancing.
  3. Most importantly, once shy people get to know you, all is good.