Happily Unhuggable

My personal space bubble is getting wider and thicker as I get older. Growing up, back when I still cared about fitting in and being like everyone else, hugs were automatic, if not enjoyed. Everybody hugs, right? But why?

Honestly, I don’t like to be touched at all, unless you are a dog, in which case snuggles are mandatory and you can sit on my lap, climb me like a mountain, lick my face, and I will skritch you anywhere you would like to be skritched.

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Him, I will hug. Probably more than he would prefer.

I have to have an eye exam soon, and after that I desperately need to schedule what I’m sure will be the first of a long series of painful, face-touching appointments. I’m going to need lots of drugs. The really good kind. Partially for the expected nerve-searing agony, but also because I’ll be super stressed out having people touching me.

I don’t even get my hair cut and colored anymore because there is literally no way to accomplish this without being touched, and it is also customary to chat with the stylist. I have decided to embrace the gray and see it as a fashion choice rather than advancing crone-hood. I grab my craft scissors every couple of months and whack off the dead ends and call it good.

I don’t go to the doctor, and I haven’t gotten a new tattoo in three years. These both involve way too much personal contact. I don’t want people to shake my hand or touch my arm when we’re talking. Honestly, I’m not really a fan of the talking part either, but if we can do it at a reasonable distance, I’ll probably survive. Recommended distance = text me from your house. No, don’t call. I don’t answer the phone. Phone calls are like your voice touching my ears.

No manicures or pedicures, and forget massages, because that is professional, therapeutic touching, and it’s not happening. Ever.

Still, hugging is expected, and people who enjoy it can’t comprehend that not everybody is okay with it. Any group event…so much hugging. Friends hug greetings, people meeting for the first time are all “Oh my gosh, I’m so glad to finally meet you!” Hug.

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Cringe.

And family…the hug machine cranks into overdrive. This is when I most often have to give in, because not hugging family you haven’t seen in a while is apparently offensive. Or something. I’m not really sure, because figuring out people is not my strong suit. hug__by_gotbob

I try to limit hug exposure by hanging back until everyone seems to have the hugs out of their systems, then slip into the group unobtrusively. With farewell hugs, the best strategy is to edge to the outer perimeter of the group, sidling toward the door or your car, and hope a friendly wave will do. (Spoiler alert: It almost never does.)

In addition to all the anxiety I have about leaving the house and the Direwolves, the conversations I’ll have to participate in, whether there will be any adult beverages to numb some of my neurological worry centers, if I’m dressed appropriately to blend in and not attract unwanted attention, if I’ll have to use someone’s bathroom (I have developed extraordinary bladder control to avoid this situation)…I don’t really want to have to factor in hug-avoidance. But failure to remain vigilant results in far too much person-to-person contact.

It’s not that I don’t care about all these huggy people. I do. I am happy to see them. I’m stressed about it, but I’m happy. I just don’t want people inside my safety-bubble.

I’m not a germophobe. My lackadaisical attitude toward household sanitation guarantees my immune system is regularly challenged by all manner of microscopic threats and is in top working order. My aversion to touching people isn’t due to fear of illness. I just don’t like it, and I’m at an age where I’m about out of rats’ asses to give about whether I’m socially acceptable.

The struggle is real.

An Intriguing Image

When we were out at Prohibition last weekend and I was enjoying some tasty dirty martinis, I noticed two framed art prints I found unusually intriguing. Let me explain and see what you think.

Artist Brent Lynch has a piece titled “Lounge Bar,” featuring a man and woman in what appears to be a mid-20th-century bar.

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Nice, yes, but that’s not what I saw last weekend. It seems the full painting featuring two people is also sold in two pieces, one featuring the man and called “Cigar Bar,” and one featuring the woman and called “Evening Lounge.”

They’re normally displayed like this, a literal two-piece version of the original so it can be hung side by side or near each other.

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But prohibition had them hung opposite, and it intrigued me far more than the above options.

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The above isn’t from Prohibition, but an image I found online.

This is my actual dark, quick-snap from last weekend…

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I tend to get strangely fascinated with random things or people when we’re out, because I’m in a constant state of low-level anxiety, and also tend to consume a lot of cocktails to compensate. But it’s been nearly a week, and I’m still thinking about these prints. I love the classic, elegant, mysterious, noir feel of it.

I definitely like them hanging opposite, looking away from each other. What’s the story? The author in me wants to know.

  • Are they a couple, but have fallen out of love? They’re facing away from each other, not engaging at all.
  • Are they strangers who could potentially be soul mates, but they’re missing the connection because they’re both focused elsewhere, lost in their own thoughts?
  • Are they not even there at the same time, with the images being the same bar at different times? Are they star-crossed lovers who missed their chance encounter, perhaps by minutes?
  • Were they once a couple, and this was “their” bar, but they’ve now separated, each coming to the bar alone, thinking of what they’ve lost?

I can’t think of a time a piece of art has drawn me in this way. I think I’d like to buy these prints, but I rarely have images of people anywhere in my house. That’s how deep my social dysfunction runs. I don’t even like pictures of people. Also, there’s no red decor in my house, so I’m not even sure where I’d put it.

What do you think is the story behind the paintings, if displayed as I saw them, facing away from each other? There’s a story there, probably more than one.

Two In A Row

We did go out last night, and I didn’t die. I did talk to a bunch of people whose names I don’t remember, despite having asked them several times, and I met a nice dog named Zoe, because I always remember dog names. I also snuck a couple pictures of some random guy because he had the prettiest long blond hair I’ve ever seen, but Tom convinced me I should definitely not give him my card and tell him he should seriously consider being a cover model because it’s almost impossible to find good stock photos of guys with long blond hair.

Now, brace yourself. I went out today too. Two days in a row, shower, bra, public. Me. It was a beautiful, warm, sunny day, so we took the Direwolves to the beach for a few hours. We usually go to Fort Macon State Park because it has plenty of parking, and a nice walkway over the dunes.

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Mozzie and Oliver are maniacs going to and from the car, but once we get to the beach,  they’re both so good I can’t even believe it. They walk nicely, splashing in the surf, not reacting to people or dogs we pass, and lie calmly on the blanket when we get back to our spot.

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Standard poodles definitely attract attention. Two people asked if Oliver was a standard, and one of them even noticed he has his full, natural tail.

I am absolutely exhausted. I’ve walked more in the past two days than in the previous two months, so I’m going to sit here watching TV and knitting until it’s time to watch The Walking Dead tonight. I’m finally almost past the orange part of the yarn, thank goodness. I hate orange, but you can’t have “rainbow” anything without it, although if I were in charge of the color spectrum, I’d definitely change that.

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The Direwolves have just reminded me I absolutely can’t sit here the rest of the day, because it’s supper time, and they’re hungry. They have me very well trained.

Hermit Out and About

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Hermiting is hard. My answer to “Do you want to go…” is nearly always “No.” But from time to time, I have to suck it up and go somewhere, because holding Tom hostage at home isn’t really fair. Staying in and having some adult beverages and watching Netflix used to be an option–my favorite–but apparently we don’t do that anymore. Well, I do, every night when Tom goes to bed, but I guess that doesn’t count.

Tonight is one such night, when I have to dress like a normal person and go out. There’s a 17021379_855781954559544_4158933835694194326_n“battle of the bands” at our favorite bar, The Brown Pelican, and he wants to go…so we’re going.

I used to love music, and we followed one particular band, going on multi-day roadtrips to catch several shows on consecutive nights. But a falling-out (lead singer/guitarist turned out to be a ginormous ass-crumpet) led to me no longer liking music…at all.

Back in those days, going out involved meticulous planning, with every detail of my hair, makeup, outfit, shoes, and accessories carefully coordinated. Now, I’ll get a shower. Probably.

While the main challenge is that I’ll have to converse with non-canine individuals, today has another obstacle. It’s March 31, technically spring. It’s also Easter weekend, or so I’ve heard, since I’m non-religious, and that’s considered a spring holiday. But it’s also a little chilly, with the temperature expected to be around 50 degrees this evening when we head out.

Definitely too cool for my cute summer tops. I tend to be cold, so even a short sleeved top is probably out. But if I wear a sweater, will I look like an idiot? Too cool for my new sandals…but black boots? Too winter-apparel-y?

I thought about wearing a garnet-colored long-sleeve top with my first knitted scarf, 29571342_10214115474733336_8294067764251296272_nwhich is light-weight and could be okay, but that might look like I think I’m still in Minnesota rather than eastern North Carolina.

So, what to do? Barring a meteor strike or robot uprising, we’re going. I’ll probably spend an hour standing in my closet and staring at the available options, which is almost like shopping because I go out so rarely that I find myself saying, “Oh, hey, I didn’t remember I had that.”

Probably too late to knit myself a light spring sweater, especially since I’ve only been knitting for a month and have no idea how to go about sweater-making, and it takes me two weeks to make a stupid scarf.

Whatever I end up wearing, the strategy will be what it always is, which is to reach the correct blood alcohol level to make me temporarily forget I’m a major introvert and avoid a panic attack. I probably won’t have a terrible time, but it’s not even 10 a.m. and I’m worrying about it, and that’s a lot of hours getting myself worked up over nothing.

See? I keep telling everyone hermiting is hard, but only other equally-dedicated introverts believe me.

(DISCLAIMER: As an editor, I desperately want to punctuate the graphic at the top of this post. I normally won’t use any meme with spelling, punctuation, or grammar errors, but I love Bugs Bunny too much to pass this one up.)

Classic: Nobody Likes Team-Building

One of the absolute best things about working from home is I am no longer subjected to the dreaded “team-building events.” I estimate 90% of people hate these things, but we’re all forced to endure them. And let me tell you, extreme introverts hate it more than the less introverted can possibly imagine.

This is a Classic Fermented Fur post from ten years ago. How many of you can relate?

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It is a well-known fact, to those who know it well, that I hate those participatory, team-building, touchy-feely, business seminars. Let me be absolutely clear about this.

I hate them.

Loathe. Abhor. Despise. Detest.

I do not like them. And I need a bigger thesaurus.

And yet that is exactly what I’ll be doing next Tuesday. All day.

We recently re-started our work with our ActionCOACH (yes, that’s how they spell it), which is a worldwide business coaching network. Our coach is an unbelievable dynamo. She’s from Australia, and she does not have a low gear. Think “ADHD hummingbird on crack.” She rock climbs, surfs, bungee jumps, kayaks, and (for all I know) participates in triathlons with entire populations of third world villages perched on her shoulders. Still, she is always impeccably dressed, has lovely – if very pointy – shoes, perfectly sculpted nails, and a dark tan.

As a part of our return to the ActionCOACH fold, we’re being subjected to participating in a Team Alignment Day. I understand the importance of strengthening our team relationships, and finding ways to get along and work better together, because (unfortunately) this is one of our ongoing struggles.

I’d just really rather not be there.

As the Practice Manager, though, there’s simply no way out of it. I must attend, participate, and pretend to be happy about it. I do have enough experience from years of front desk work, pretending to like people, that I will likely pull this off, but that doesn’t change the fact that I’d rather have all my skin peeled off, strip by strip, and fed to rabid jackals.

Tell me if this agenda sounds like fun:

(Setting, a meeting room at a local hotel. The room will be too chilly, I won’t get to sit where I want, and there will not be nearly enough breaks.)

8:00 AM: Welcome and overview

Welcome team

(Yeah, yeah. Yippee.)

Why we are here today

(Because somebody made us be here. Oh, and they’re paying me $15/hour.)

Why to invest in a business coach

(Because we’re clueless, and you’re that damned persuasive)

Introduce business coach

(Hi. We’ve met.)

8:10 AM: Introduction

8:20 AM: General Principles of Success

(By now, I already have to pee, and I want a cigarette. Brain cells may already be starting to atrophy.)

8:45 AM: Setting RAS: What I want out of today

(My answer: More smoke breaks, free lunch, and an early dismissal. An open bar would also be appreciated. And a cab ride home.)

9:00 AM: Game

(I do not like games. And these “games” are never, ever fun.)

9:10 AM: General Principles of Success (Continued)

(Oh, goodie. The 25 minutes of this we’ve already had weren’t nearly enough.)

9:45 AM: Break (15 minutes)

(Translation: Two cigarettes and one quick potty stop. I will probably return to the meeting room out of breath, my pants half zipped, and toilet paper stuck to my heel.)

10:00 AM: 6 Keys to a Winning Team

(If she can just help me get them to stop whining and do their damned jobs, I’ll be happy.)

10:15 AM: Strong Leadership

(Easy. Get a bigger baseball bat team motivation device.)

10:30 AM: Common Goals (Created prior to Team Day)

Business Vision

Business Mission

2007 Goals

(I’m pretty sure that last agenda item should read either 2008 or 2009 goals. Of course, if I re-write my 2007 goals, I could make it look as if I actually accomplished some of them.)

11:30 AM: Rules of the Game

Business Culture Statement (Created on day with Team)

(We’re a holistic veterinary practice. Our vision and mission from the 10:30 segment, and our culture statement, are all very new-agey, all about respect, empowerment, trust, healing, and harmony. Sounds lovely in theory, very tough to pull off in practice when you want to slap someone silly for remaining an idiot after all your generous attempts to de-idiot-ize them.)

12:15 PM: Game

(Perhaps I can pretend to have diarrhea, and thus get an early start on lunch.)

12:30 PM: Lunch (45 minutes)

(Lunch. Is. Not. Included. I am not amused. I shall have to venture several blocks to Chili’s, which I normally wouldn’t mind, but 45 minutes is not enough time for a dozen people to eat lunch, take care of necessities, and get back to the meeting. Especially if they take a detour through Bismarck, which I just might do.)

1:15 PM: Action Plan

5 Ways Profit and 4 Ways Business Building Strategies (Created on day with Team)

(“Created on day with Team” means “We’ll all talk simultaneously and spout off a bunch of random, inconsistent, impractical, off-topic nonsense, and Lori will write it down and attempt to form it into something that won’t make us look like absolute vapor-brains.”)

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2:30 PM: Support Risk Taking

(How risky would it be to make a break for the door right now???)

2:40 PM: 100% Involvement/Inclusion

(I can only promise 75% involvement. Any more than that and my brain begins to swell. I shall have to fake the other 25%.)

2:45 PM: Break (15 minutes)

(See “9:45 AM.”)

3:00 PM: IVVM (Dream Builder)

(I have a huge problem with this part every time. This coach is all about attracting wealth and success, much like The Secret, and simply saying “I will achieve/have/experience this by this date” and it will happen. This has thus far not proven true for me. The other part of the problem is that they encourage our personal dreams and goals as much as business ones. Since all my personal goals and dreams involve things like a remote northwoods island full of dogs, a wildly successful writing career, and never, ever having a “real job” again, I’m not sure my goals are exactly compatible with dreams for the business. With work, I have a hard time looking ahead to next month, let alone 5 and 10-year plans.)

3:15 PM: Top 7 Things Learned Today

(1. Next time, claim to have leprosy.)

3:45 PM: Team WIFLE

(Do you know about WIFLEs? It stands for “What I Feel Like Expressing Is.” You then express whatever needs expressing. Work-related, personal, weather, good news, concerns, whatever is on your mind, always concluding with, “and that’s what I feel like expressing.” Everyone then says, “Thank you, Lori.” I cannot spontaneously WIFLE. When we do this at staff meetings, I have to mentally compose my WIFLE the night before. This is one of those spectacularly lame “getting to know each other as individual human beings” things.

Hey. Remember me? I’m an introvert. That’s all you need to know.)

4:15 PM: Conclusion: Time to Get Into Action

(“Time to get ready to take a nap.”)

At 4:30, I get to exit the parking lot, leaving behind skid marks and a huge, billowing cloud of dust.

Naturally, no Team Day is complete without a bunch of personality profiles and “what I think of our team and business” stuff. We had to fill out and fax in all that stuff this week. I’ve done about 688 of those personality profiles over the years, and guess what? I’m an introvert. (See Team WIFLE) I’ve always been an introvert. I will always be an introvert. Anyone who knows me at all is aware of the fact that I’m an introvert. They also know I’m highly anal-retentive, non-confrontational, and very unpleasant when pushed past my tolerance levels. They’ve seen the results.

Still, I am tired of a lot of the intra-team behaviors that we haven’t managed to change or eliminate. If by some wildly improbable chance this helps fix some of those, it might be sort of worth it. Maybe. Possibly.

I will be ten times more tired at the end of this Alignment Day thing than I ever am after a regular work day. All this people stuff sucks the energy right out of me. It’s a ton of effort and extraordinarily draining for an introvert to pretend to be able to function with normal people, non-stop, for an entire day. That’s why I was so thrilled when we were finally able to assign me to practice management full-time and get me the hell away from the front desk forever.

It may be somewhat more uncomfortable than usual this time around, though, since at least some of the staff probably sees me as the Wicked Witch right now, following last week’s careless screw-ups and subsequent Consequences. We’ve been saying for ages, “Hey, one more screw-up or one more crappy attitude and there are going to be some Consequences, gosh darn it!” Yet until then, no Consequences ever manifested. So maybe it’s not so strange that people actually were surprised when it happened. But I know how to be the Bad Guy now, when I have to be. I don’t like it, but I like warning people about the same errors and attitude issues till my tongue goes numb even less.

Maybe the cure for being an introvert is just getting too pissed off to remember that you are one.

 

Just Look At The Flowers…

Last spring, I still had five rose bushes. I also had two puppies, who are 17 months (Oliver) and 19 months (Mozzie) today. By last fall, I had one rose bush, and it’s definitely the worse for wear. The other four are…gone. Not destroyed or torn up. Obliterated. The three-tier raised garden beds weren’t planted last year, because I’m not a total imbecile. The Direwolves decided the gardens were puppy jungle gyms, so I’ll be scavenging the boards for parts.

At any rate, I’m sticking to my deck rail planters and some large pots on the deck. And as it’s getting springy in eastern North Carolina, we made an outing to get some flowers today. It will be a while before they fill out, but it feels good to be doing something summery.

There are four of the rectangular rail planters and two of the round pots.

We also went to the craft store because the tiny row counter I had has decided to play hide and seek way too often, last night somehow getting completely under the recliner by my couch, way in the middle of the square wooden frame beneath it. I’d just about decided Oliver had eaten it. But I got a bigger one, the red object I sort of chopped out in the image below.

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The yarn is nothing special; I just liked the colors. I wish the one indie yarn shop in town hadn’t closed last year. Now that I’m knitting, I’d love some boutique and specialty yarns. With crochet, my projects tended to be larger scale, making fancy yarn cost-prohibitive.

With the plants planted, it’s time to work on my Rolling Meadows scarf. It’s about 10″ long so far. These images aren’t the best, because this scarf will need a good bit of blocking when done to show off the shape and pattern, so I just stretched it out so you could get an idea.

Information on the pattern and yarn used can be found HERE on yesterday’s post.

Thank goodness I don’t have to cook today! We have guests this weekend, and we went  out to lunch, and have a fridge full of leftover pizza from last night.

If you’re looking for me, I’ll be butt-planted on the couch now, knitting and watching Doctor Who, until 9:00 when tonight’s episode of The Walking Dead starts. I host a live chat in a private Facebook group, so if you’re interested, send me a message on Facebook and ask me to add you!

A Rare Visit to the Out

I see people on Facebook post things like, “I twisted my ankle and I’ve been stuck at home for three days. I’m losing my mind!” I do not understand these people.

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Accurate.

We took Oliver to the groomer on January 11. Yesterday, Tom once again persuaded me to leave the house for a couple of hours. Nothing exciting, just a few errands and checking out some local businesses. The previous day’s weather was summery, but Saturday was chilly, so no walking the dogs along the river or heading to the beach.

We went by the Colonial Capital Humane Society flea market to drop off more crochet 26841165_10208037040323626_336358591896336060_obags and see what was selling from the things I’d donated previously. The volunteer I talked to was friendly and enthusiastic, but there was an awful lot of stuff still there, which is a little discouraging. Maybe I need to make different things. I didn’t see the signed books I donated, so hopefully they sold.

Village-Butcher-gallery9We went by The Village Butcher and ordered more shank bones for Mozzie and Oliver, and now I know where it is. You’d think this would mean I could go and pick up bones for the dogs by myself, but you’d be wrong. It’s much more likely Tom will continue to do this.

The main reason I went out today was to stop by our wonderful Farmer’s Market. It’s not produce season, but there are always artisans of all sorts in attendance. Bakers, knitters, wineries, jewelry makers…and soap makers.

Shortly after we moved here in 2014, I discovered the fabulous goat milk soaps, lotions, sugar scrubs, body sprays, and other products from The Beaman’s Fork Soap Company. I head straight to this booth every time I visit the market.

I discovered the Farm at Beaman’s Fork is only about a mile from my house. I haven’t been there yet, because even though Krisann is super friendly and we chat at the market and online, I am socially challenged. But one of these days I definitely need to go meet the goats, as well as her Pyr Casey and German shepherd Seife (which means “soap” in German). Baby steps. It’s only been four years.

Check out the Facebook page for lots of pictures of the dogs, goats, horses, chickens…and this spring’s brand new baby goats!

My reason for the market today was to pick up my Spring BFF Box from Krisann. For each season, she designs four limited edition signature scents for new soaps. I pre-ordered mine and couldn’t wait to see what was in there.

These are the only bath products I use now. The goat milk soaps, lotions, body spray, a new foaming sugar scrub… It kind of makes you want to take three baths a day and try a different scent each time.

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Beautiful, right? I wish you could smell it! I have the vanilla-lime wax melt in my melter now, and it is heavenly.

Here’s the card that describes the contents:

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I pre-ordered the Summer BFF Box also, and I’m already dying to know what fragrances await me. They do have an online store, too, so you can experience these handmade artisan delights firsthand.

Then I came home, after only about two hours, and Mozzie and Oliver tried to murder me with their love. It’s nice to be adored, but their wild, unrestrained welcome home routine is going to put me in traction one of these days. I’d hoped to bribe them into submission with bones from the butcher, but he only had knuckles today, no shanks, and Oliver can’t be trusted with the softer knuckle bones. He has poodledactyl jaws and breaks off chunks, swallows them, then barfs them up on the bedroom floor at 6 a.m. This is not how I prefer to start my day.

And now, having conquered work email and not having a new edit for a day or two, it’s time to resume my exploration of Doctor Who, to discover if I am destined to join the ranks of Whovians, or if the appeal will elude me. I’ll work on more bags for the humane society, but I also think I might dig out the one set of knitting needles I have and see if I can re-learn how to knit.

Because, you know, I need another hobby I can pursue without leaving the couch, much less the house.