August 30th, 2015

TNG Darmok

Matt and Gerry introduce their kids to "Uncle Chris"

Social. Sociable. Socializing. Saying "'Sup?" It's like I sometimes forget to do that, at least in person, and that's bad to make a habit. So Wednesday night I managed to do a social visit I've meant to do for a while, and saw friends I hadn't seen in years.

They're Matt and Gerry, two of the people I've known the longest since moving to Portland -- I met Matt in 2001 at the Vesta call center, and Gerry a little later in some non-work situation. We've known each other through some major events, and have eaten together and seen movies together and shot the breeze together. And then they moved to Hawaii for several years. Dammit, I never took them up on an offer to visit them over there, but only saw them during a visit back here to celebrate the young girl they had adopted.

Which they followed by adopting three more young girls. And I got to meet them all Wednesday! They live in Portland now -- longish story that's not mine to tell -- and live within a reasonable distance of my current house. Good encouragement for visiting them more.

So, after years, I got to hug Matt and Gerry again. I met the kids, and immediately learned that I was going to be "Uncle Chris" for my visit, as even friends who aren't related by blood get called "Aunt" or "Uncle" by families in Hawaii. Sign of respect, it is. I did what I could to earn that respect. The girls showed off some of their things -- one of them just got a bicycle for her birthday. They were (and are) high-energy, and enthused about the pizza we had for dinner and the brownies we had for dessert, then went elsewhere in the house to relax, enthusiastically, for the rest of the night. They were a little more spun up than usual as school was starting the next day; getting them prepared for bed was an adventure, one I'm not used to. Matt and Gerry were meant to be parents, though, and they've taken to that job.

I spent the afternoon and evening surrounded by love and inside jokes. I needed that.

I've needed to be more social, and thank goodness I've done more socializing lately than just that. Friday night Mom visited, and I took her for the first time to Big-Ass Sandwiches's brick-and-mortar. Last night was talking, hot dogs and drinks (ginger ale for me, because I'd donated blood earlier that day) with Mat. (He's a different Mat, with one T. I thought I should spell that out.)

Social. Sociable. Socializing. Saying "'Sup?" It's possible.
Captain Kris W'lash

The latest weird feelings about being social

I forced myself not to say it. Or, I managed to keep from saying it; I can put it that way.

Just over a week ago I was visiting Ben, a bike shop owner I know who's married to my friend Kara, and the subject of preseason NFL football came up. I almost started sharing my idea of football of the future. I stopped myself, and actually apologized to Ben because what I'd almost said was too random. It was just linked by the subject being football. It wouldn't have added much to the talk; it would've just been me going to an easy thing for me to say, but which probably would've made him go "What?"

I like that I apologized. It was a good way to check myself. Because darn it, I want and need to be better at what I was talking about earlier, socializing.

Because sometimes lately it feels like I had the socializing equivalent of a stroke, and lost those skills, and need to re-train myself in them.

Over-dramatic way of putting it, I know, but it helps me to think of it that way.

Don't say something just to say something: add something. Pay attention to those around me, and pick up on signals. Am I talking about what we both want to talk about or what I want to talk about? Am I adding something relevant, or at least interesting? And, a big issue, am I making the person feel better that I'm with them?

I've had to keep reminding myself that, generally, people do like me to be around. It's as if I have a harder and harder time accepting that. And I want to reinforce that I can be good with people; I don't want to start pushing people away, due to my insecurity or my other issues.

Also, HOW OFTEN HAVE I WRITTEN ABOUT THIS? How often have I thought and worried about this? Because this is part of the work to be an ever-better person, and I want to do that work well.

Insecurity sucks. You probably knew that, but hey, good reminder.

Take care of yourselves. I'm definitely trying to.
Clay. Bill...Clay.

A thought

Before he helped create Monty Python, John Cleese worked for a month for the international edition of Newsweek. He felt out of his depth, and not long for the job, especially when he got assigned to write an early draft of an obituary for a well-known person who had not actually died yet.

Cleese is probably amused to think that over the years, many people at all sorts of media outlets have had to do the same thing with him.