People Are Frustrating and Vexing, but Solitude Brings a Strange Kind of Fun

  warmandfuzzy

I am not the poster child for things touchy-feely.  I loathe strange people touching me (even getting my hair cut is an adventure, though I endure it because I can’t cut my own hair with any degree of accuracy) and generally I’m not too thrilled about being groped by those I do know.  Unless they’re dogs, and that’s OK.  Why, I don’t know, but dogs are safe, at least for me.  Even when I was a little kid and was terrified of the world, from my sadistic oldest sister to unauthorized insect life, I had no problem climbing the fence and snuggling up to a 120# Rottweiler.

rottweiler

It’s not usually the big dogs you have to worry about.  Unless you’re up to mischief, that is.

The only dog I can remember having any kind of problem with was Andy the Chihuahua, but he was likely the product of many generations of inbreeding, and from the moment he was whelped he was certifiably messed up in the head.  He was my cousins’ dog, and even they couldn’t touch him.  It’s a good thing that pathetic little Andy, with his  high-pitched, constant and annoying yappy voice, severe underbite and thick cataracts,  (I think the wretched thing was born blind) didn’t live past the age of five. I’m surprised he lived as long as he did.   I think the only thing that saved him was that he was too evil for the cats to eat him.  He reminded me of a wind-up toy with an over-wound spring.  Such a toy will go like blue blazes- for a little while- then it just dies suddenly.  I think it was reported that poor Andy bit the big one mid-yap.  I don’t think he was very much missed.

psycho chihuahua

Andy the psycho Chihuahua is the exception, not the rule in the canine world.  Humanity is the exact opposite.

There is a sad irony that I feel safer with animals that technically are the same species as wolves (canis lupus familiaris is not far removed from canis lupus lupus after all) than I do with fellow humans.  But I do.

I’ve gathered from my own observations that “normal” people (begging the question, “Who defines ‘normal’?,” though I know I am most certainly anything but “normal”) generally have an easy time relating to other “normal” people.   While I’m usually looking for excuses to avoid excessive social interaction, as too much of playing that game wears me out, the “normals” blithely seek out more opportunities to be in each others’ faces.    I have to work at the communication game.  Really. Hard.  I have to consciously know which façade to pull out, and what (figurative) costume to wear for which occasion.

I have to pay attention to things that come instinctually to most, such as eye contact and body language and tone of voice. Otherwise, if I’m not paying attention, I just stare straight ahead and bellow out everything in a loud monotone.  I have acquired social skills- and over the years I’ve trained myself to practice them well- but that whole hoo-hah wears me down, just as the social dance energizes most people.

hermit

Sometimes I’d like to tell the whole world to bite me sideways and say screw it all, (and I would if I had the scratch to live as a recluse) but necessity dictates that I have to put up with other people and their shit.  Maybe it’s wrong or arrogant or selfish of me to see things that way, but that’s just the way it is.  That’s my reality-constant vigilance and constant anxiety, because I have to pay close attention to every word and every movement, at least when I am under others’ scrutiny.

Maybe that was where Shakespeare got the notion that all the world’s a stage.  Performing is hard work, and sometimes I just don’t wanna.

I don’t have to play the game with dogs- or even cats for that matter.   With them I can just be.

There are times I do enjoy the relational hoo-hah and find it a strange kind of fun, but it’s fun that I really only need in small doses, and even when I do enjoy it, it wears me out.  Right now I’m exhausted, and in a way I wish I could beg off human contact for a few months or so.

14corolla

What I really need is a nice, long solitary road trip.

I could use one of those trips where I leave, go somewhere randomly, do whatever, and then come back.  The last time I really did that was back in 1987, and I caught hell for it.  Of course, going 500 miles out with $150,  in a car that had no air conditioning, leaked oil horribly, had 4 balding (different sizes and treads) tires and a top speed of 45 MPH wasn’t a good idea and I wouldn’t dream of trying it today, especially without a phone, but those were different times.   Cell phones were expensive toys hard mounted in expensive cars back in 1987.  I was a young punk and wanted to do what I wanted to do, even if I didn’t have much scratch and my car was a very distressed, high mileage ’79 Subaru DL.   Today I would be afraid of being raped and robbed (well, in my case, probably just robbed and shot) if I would happen to get stranded.  Today I have plastic (though I am quite loath to use it) a modern car, a phone, GPS, roadside assistance and a (always loaded) .357 Magnum.

I’m not nearly as trusting as I used to be.

Jerry would have nine kinds of fits if I did something like that.  He would accuse me of being out trysting with some smoking hot young stud even though he (especially) should know I have the sex appeal of stale saltines and wet socks.    In reality he would miss subjecting me to his tirades, and would miss me fetching his food and beer.

Yes, a solitary road trip would be most delicious.  Even a day trip would be good.

For All the Saints, Fanning the Flames, and a Limited Time Offer

I know that here lately I have been rather drawn to the macabre.  It seems that around Halloween (when the seemingly endless Central Ohio winter effectively begins) and also toward the end of February (when the even more depressing season of Snowbooger Grey sets in) I get obsessed with the issue of mortality- mine, and that of others. 

It doesn’t help that Saturday I had to attend the wake (and yes, it was an actual Irish Catholic wake, complete with noise, a plethora of friends, relatives and assorted others, enough food for an army and then some, and plenty of whiskey and beer) of a dear older lady who I was both surprised and delighted to call a friend.  Then Sunday (which had almost completely slipped my mind) was All Saints’, which is one of the hardest days of the year for me to go to church.  I need to do that- especially on the difficult days- but it’s very hard for me to make a conscious effort when I know I will be streaming tears uncontrollably the whole time.  I don’t handle public displays of emotion well at all.  The whole idea behind All Saints’ is to remember those who have gone before us, which has been especially difficult for me since Grandma died. 

Sadly, I don’t spend enough time with people I care about.  I would have liked to have talked with her one more time, but I missed the opportunity.  I am reminded yet again how temporary life is, and how the people I want to see and talk with a little while longer might not be there the next time I think of them.

It might seem strange, for someone like me who isn’t terribly social and isn’t really into superficialities, that I am so neglectful of the very few close relationships I have.  It’s actually rather pathetic that I avoid human contact to such an extreme.  I have enough excuses- overwork and babysitting Jerry are probably the two biggest drains on my time and energy- but excuses are exactly that.  I don’t make the time.  Even though I do cherish people I deem to be friends, being around people wears me out.  I know it sounds superficial and selfish, but I really have to be intentional regarding who I socialize with, and with how much time I spend being in the company of others.  Otherwise I get stretched too thin and get emotionally and physically exhausted. 

Over the years I’ve discovered I need solitude not only to get my head straight and to make some sense of my fractured and often puzzling emotional life, but I also have a genuine physical need to take that ivory tower time.  Leave me alone and let me regenerate.  Often.  The bad thing is that I don’t get nearly enough opportunity for such regeneration, so I take it where I can get it.   Otherwise I will get physically ill, and end up being forced to stop and get away.

As much as I found it necessary to go to our friend’s wake, I paid for it in terms of just plain coming home depleted.  I don’t know if my exhaustion had to do with trying to keep Jerry out of too much trouble (he almost killed an entire 30 pack of Natties) or just from needing to get away from people for awhile.  Perhaps a combination of both?

Maybe I really am one of those people who would be better off out in the middle of nowhere with sparse company other than books, music and dogs.  It’s been way too long since I was able to be left alone long enough to read a novel (and I do have what promises to be a good novel on the way- 11-22-63 by Stephen King.)  It doesn’t take me long to read a novel – even Stephen King’s novels, which tend to be lengthy- but it seems I am constantly being interrupted with Jerry being unable to get his own pills, being unable to shut up late at night, and constantly whining about his shirts or this or that or the other thing. 

Maybe it’s not fair of me to expect Jerry to take care of himself like a normal adult.  Sadly I have been party to his Helplessman routine for many years, so how can I expect him to take his own pills, iron his own shirts, and keep himself from drowning in the toilet when he’s shitfaced?

I know I am no paragon of virtue by a long shot, but I admit I get tired of the babysitting.  It’s hard to put my foot down because Jerry is incredibly emotionally fragile.  He gets on my nerves, yes, but he’s a lot worse when he gets either shitfaced and/or in temper tantrum mode.  Sadly, he has learned (just like a toddler) that the tirades are a form of blackmail.  “Appease me or I’ll go off again” is the mentality.  While I know that it’s a fruitless endeavor to keep on feeding alligators, way too much of the time I simply cave in and let him have what he wants so he will shut up.  Especially if I’m tired and/or he’s drunk.  The irony here is that in the end I’m just rewarding him for whining.  Unlike a toddler, when Jerry starts in with the whining and tirades, I can’t take him to the ladies’ room and warm his behind.

I know all too well that life is a limited time offer.  I shouldn’t be so harsh with Jerry, even though I lose my patience with the helpless act and with the gambling and drinking.  I know I should cherish whatever time we have even though he does try my patience and dealing with his behavior can be quite draining.

I’ll have time to sleep when I’m dead.  Hopefully somewhere along the way I’ll find time for the Stephen King novel.