Of onions and people…

It shouldn’t shock anyone to learn that I keep extensive lists. Everything from books I want to read to what groceries I need ends up on lists I keep on my phone for quick reference and for ease of making additions or deletions. It’s an old fashioned model lightly updated by technology. It is not, however, foolproof.

A few staple items, like rice and potatoes, I usually buy in quantity because so much of what I cook is loosely based around five or so key ingredients. They get used quickly and replenished on a regular basis. Because they get used and replaced so quickly, I occasionally find that the lists haven’t kept up.

It’s on days like that – like today – that I find myself conflicted between two compelling, but mutually exclusive, desires. I can either make a quick run into town to pick up the onion necessary for meatloaf I’ve planned for Sunday dinner or I can stay home avoiding people and use onion powder as a sad substitute.

I deeply love a good meatloaf. I am also appalled by the idea of dealing with the general public when it isn’t strictly necessary. Surely you can see the hooks of the dilemma on which I find myself stuck.

This is obviously what’s meant when they “adulting is hard.”

Mister Ed…

It’s not exactly a secret that I’m not a fan of large groups of people – or of people in general. My misanthropic tendencies run pure as a mountain stream and remain one of my most consistent personality traits over time.

Mister Ed.jpgDespite my misgivings about people and groups, I’m a reasonable enough adult human being to know that both are sometimes unavoidable. While social engagements aren’t something I seek out, they are a fact of life from time to time. In those circumstances, I’m perfectly capable of behaving myself in polite company, of making small talk, and generally being a pleasant enough human being.

So you see, what I mean when I say “I don’t like people,” is I don’t go out of my way to find them, but I’m perfectly aware that they are a simple fact of modern life with which I have learned to contend. I learned a long time ago that most people need far more social interaction than I do in order to feel some sense of community or fulfillment. I’ve made peace with it. Mostly.

I’m never going to be the guy who wants to be the center of attention at a party of social event. Like Mister Ed, I’ll likely never speak unless I have something to say. Others may be more tempted to flap their gums to fill in awkward silences. That should in no way be mistaken to mean that I’m going to stand in a corner looking surly for the duration of the event. Just because I don’t usually want to doesn’t mean I can’t play nicely with others when the need arises.

Sometimes, you see, circumstances demand that we do that which we would not otherwise do, not because it’s how we’d rather spend our time, but because it’s something important to the person asking us to tag along. That said, I find myself growing less and less accommodating by the minute. If I’m going to be condemned in either case, I’d rather be condemned for what I am rather than what I am not.

Distractors…

I’ve always had trouble finding my mental focus in loud environments. I don’t know if that’s what makes the hermit life so appealing to me or if it’s the other way around. It doesn’t really matter which caused what. The end result is the same – sitting at my desk with glazed eyes completely unable to cobble together a single coherent thought. It’s just one of the many joys of existing in cubicle hell.

If I’m honest, I’ll admit that the day to day isn’t as bad as I feared, but with that said the bad moments are absolutely hellish. At one point this afternoon I was an unwilling third party participant to at least six conversations taking place simultaneously within 20 feet of my desk. Keeping track of the thread of my own thoughts proved to be something between challenging and impossible for the better part of two hours today. For the record, that doesn’t lead to good staff work and leaves me feeling just about as annoyed in this particular workplace as I’ve ever been. That’s no mean feat.

When other people leave the office they’re in a rush to meet for dinner, or go shopping, or engage in some other socially acceptable form of human interaction. When I leave I can’t get away from that sort of thing fast enough. Home is far from silent, of course. There’s the clatter of dogs on tile, television or radio humming quietly in the background, HVAC noises, or appliances running. Somehow those things manage to not be distracting. Half a dozen overlapping conversations, on the other hand, leave me tired and more than a bit frustrated with my own inability to focus through the distractors.

Whatever reason, the subdued sounds of home, a good book, and something pressed from the fruit of the arbor feels like exactly what I need to steady myself.

30 hours and counting…

It’s been about 30 hours since I’ve had any direct, face-to-face contact with anyone. Some people might find that unnerving, but It’s been pretty much dreamy. Sure, I’ve been pretty much in regular contact with the The Hermitworld through email, text, Facebook, Twitter, and Insta, but if you can avoid all of the awkward, annoying, and generally tiresome interacting with the general public, why wouldn’t you?

I have no idea of the furthest extent of my capability for hermiting. I think the longest stretch I can remember was four days. Generally I’m forced out of the house in search of fresh tortoise food or the need to work for a living long before the desire to actually leave ever crops up. If sustenance for the critters living under this roof weren’t a factor, I dare say I could hole up for months without incurring any significant trauma or anguish.

Alas, all good things must come to an end so if anyone needs me I’ll be over here getting myself into a mental space where I can pretend to be an engaged and productive member of society. Wish me luck.

Just about perfect…

The last of a good day’s sun is creeping across the tops of the back yard oaks. I’m more of a sunrise guy, but there’s something to be said about this dusky time of day too… especially on a Sunday night, which I assume we all find at least a touch melancholy. As the light drains away from another weekend, I’m almost willing myself into boredom in an effort to extend the day just that little bit longer – a fool’s errand to be sure – but it’s a well established part of the Sunday evening routine.

I don’t have much of anything to add to that little observation. The weekend was uneventful and unremarkable in nearly every way. Some people would find that disappointing, but I tend to consider it an achievement… So if you’ll excuse me I have an appointment with the back porch, a cold drink, and the setting sun.

And that’s just about perfect.

Connection…

I think I’ve made a connection. Maybe it’s just in my own head as a I struggle this Sunday morning to figure out what to write about, but I have a sinking feeling that my snap assessment is right. While I’m sitting here at the kitchen table with piping hot coffee, two dogs snoring, and the soft hum of the morning news yammering in my ear, it occurs to me that my posts are more interesting when I’ve been forced to deal with stupid people. That’s what spurs the best rants out of my head. After two blissful days of not leaving the house, I’m beginning to wonder if I might not need those interactions to keep things fresh. They give me perspective, because nothing seems so bad, wrong, or stupid as it does when it’s happening right in front of you. Is it possible that I need to be out there if for no other reason than to find new material like so much grist for the mill?

If it’s true, I should go out today and immerse myself in watching people. I should seek avenues to maximize that connection in service to the blog. I should do a lot of things, though. For now, I think I’ll just enjoy the balance of my extra long, long weekend and not force the issue. There will be plenty enough time and cause to be out in the world dealing with people when I can’t otherwise avoid it… because really, if that’s the price of keeping this blog fresh and interesting, I think I’d rather just bore you to tears.

The big game…

This past weekend was Homecoming weekend in the little part of the world where I grew up. For anyone who grew up within earshot of Cumberland, Maryland the cross-town rivalry between the city’s two high schools is the stuff of local legend. Without rhapsodizing it, the homecoming game is a big hairy deal.

I don’t hail from the mighty city of Cumberland, of course, so I’ve always watched their version of homecoming with something of a bemused look on my face. You know, in the way that people watch others who are taking something just a little too seriously. But it seems to make them happy, so no harm, no foul.

I’m not going to lie, the idea of homecoming being a big deal is a concept that eludes me. I graduated from high school in 1996, went to college, and promptly moved away. Not long after that, my alma mater, along with a few other schools, went defunct. They ceased to be. They are no more. It became a dead parrot. In its place they opened a shiny new school that presumably is better equipped to meet student needs. I say God bless. Seventeen years after graduation, it’s not exactly like I spend a lot of time pining away for my junior year locker. In fact, writing this post has accounted for more time pondering high school than I’ve spent in total since I walked across the stage to get my diploma.

I have great memories of high school. My closest friends today are the guys who were my closest friends then. I’m pretty sure that’s the kind of thing that only really happens in a small town. Maybe it’s because I moved away, but I don’t lose any sleep about what’s happening at or happened to the school I graduated from the better part of two decades ago.

Maybe homecoming is an anachronism – a throwback to a time when you graduated, stayed put, and the social life of your town revolved largely around the comings and goings of the local school. Maybe it’s different if you have kids and it does provide some kind of continuity from generation to generation. Maybe it’s different if your school is something that exists as more than an ever fading memory. That’s a lot of maybes involved in a concept I clearly don’t grasp.

I guess I’ve just never felt the need for a special weekend designated for homecoming. Whenever I’ve felt the compulsion to stroll down memory lane or stir up the ghosts of the past, I just go do it on my own accord. No parade or big game needed. Then again, crowds always make me nervous so it could just be my inner hermit talking out loud.