June 3, 2010

Things You Do By Yourself

I’m a very social creature. I had so much fun at book club last night. There were seven of us plus a daughter. We’d read The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie (a great read), so our food was a lot of wonderful pies. There were mini quiches, a fabulous sweet onion quiche, a bacon quiche Florentine, a taco pie, turtle pie, chocolate pie, wonderful homemade watermelon sorbet, and ice cream. I made a custard pie. It turned out good, but it was the first time I’d made it, and because I used a ceramic pan, instead of my usual metal one, it took a lot longer than the recipe called for. We laughed and cackled and talked about Ah-nold’s buttocks. Oh, and the book too.

I love these kinds of occasions ~ getting together with friends, laughing, talking, eating. I always have such a good time. It wasn’t always the case though.

Growing up on the ranch I was alone most of the time. I have six brothers and sisters, but my sisters were all grown and off to college before I can remember, and my two older brothers played with each other and pretty much ditched me. I got used to being alone. Another reason I’m such a big reader.

I suppose I was intensely lonely too, though I didn’t realize it at the time.

I didn’t really learn social skills until I grew up. I learned a few at school but the finer points I actually learned from my husband. Gosh, I remember going to parties when I was in high school and college and feeling like a caged lion, pacing ~ so trapped and awkward and out of my element. But I think I’m naturally a very empathetic person ~ an enabler, a people-pleaser, call it what you will ~ so I stumbled my way for years.

So now as an adult, I’m very social, but I’m left with a legacy of space. I know I need a certain amount of alone time. I also like to do things by myself. I really enjoy going out to eat by myself. I’m not drawn to sports very much, but I do enjoy running by myself. I’ve taken vacations by myself. I’m pretty self-reliant.

And I think this is a really good trait to have when you’re a writer ~ the ability to spend lots of time by yourself. Even the compulsion to be by yourself a lot. Which is not to say I didn’t loathe myself for years and hate my own company, but having the distractions of reading and writing really help.

What I’m Reading Today: With delicious anticipation, I’ve picked up again The Scribner Anthology of Contemporary Short Fiction: 50 North American Stories Since 1970. I love anthologies like this!

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