I did a VERY IMPORTANT and VERY SCARY thing yesterday. You’re all going to be super-proud. Ready? I don’t think you are, because the magnitude is going to BLOW YOU AWAY.
I totally left my house AND WENT SOMEWHERE.
I know! Right now, you’re just about picking yourself up from the floor in shock. It is ok! Do not fret, little one! All is well!
Here’s the thing. I don’t like people? As mentioned over and over again? Or being places where there are people? Or going places on my own? Or leaving my house when there is awesome television to be watched, or even when there is crappy television to be watched? But sometimes something exciting and fun presents itself, and how can you not go to such a thing?
I used to drag my roommate to these things with me, but she’s moved onto greener pastures, and by greener pastures I of course mean she moved to another town so she could live with her boyfriend. Isn’t that the total definition of greener pastures? Well, I guess not if you’re a cow. Then the definition would be an actual LITERAL greener pasture, with, oh, I don’t know, tastier clover, or something, or views of more attractive girl-cows, maybe doing sexy cow car washes in sexy cow bikinis or something.
But since she’s left, it’s not as easy to go to events that might be nervous-making. Definition: events where I will know no one, I am not sure of the exits, I am not familiar with the venue, I am not sure of how large the crowd will be, and have the potential for awkwardness or embarrassing moments like the time I went to a fancy movie theater in New York City and thought I was pulling off pretending to be a fancy person until I totally walked into a windowpane of very clear glass because I thought it was an exit WITH MY FACE and then my cover was blown.
Events that I am comfortable with going to alone: movies, plays, book readings or lectures in venues I have been to before, some concerts (ones with actual seats are more comfortable than ones where you stand), malls (although I am never really comfortable in a mall because malls suck), various shopping venues.
Events I am not comfortable going to: pretty much everything else where I could use a wingman.
Now, a long-distance friend told me that the smart solution to this would be to call one of my friends and ask them if they wanted to come with me. Well, yes, wouldn’t that be an easy fix! Except, no. Because then they’ll want to hang out AGAIN (I’m not just saying this because I’m totally irresistible as an event buddy, even though I am, but I know this from experience) and then they start getting very hurt when I turn them down a million times, because I will do that, because I AM TOTALLY ANTISOCIAL. I have a list of things I do every month. I very seldom vary from this list. I am very busy; I am also very anal about sticking to my schedule. (WHAT? I don’t know why you wouldn’t think I’m a lot of fun to hang out with because I TOTALLY AM. I don’t know why, either. Even I’M annoyed with me. Yet I go out with someone, and they start sending me messages about wanting to hang out again. I assume because they had such a good time? So I’m apparently super-fun!) So if I ask someone to go to something with me, I play the whole situation out to the endgame, like we’re playing a little game of chess, and I see it ending badly with them thinking, “AMY HATES ME” which I totally don’t, I just wanted to hang out and do something ONE TIME, so I don’t want to open up a can of worms where the worms are just going to get all over everything and get that sticky worm goo all over your best tablecloth.
When I was in college, I had this adorable friend who was my culture buddy. His phrasing, not mine. We did not talk much otherwise, but when we found something cool to do in the community but thought it would be weird to go to alone, we would call each other up (back in the days of yore before texting) and we’d go together and have a nice time with no pressure whatsoever to do it again until the next fun opportunity presented itself. I LIKED THAT. I want that.
Anyway! Back to the task at hand. So last month, Albany Poets announced they were starting a bi-monthly poetry slam at a local club. THIS IS VERY EXCITING. I love poetry. We discussed this. And I’ve been to poetry slams in the past, and loved them. My friend Mer, who I miss like fire, and I went a few times, and we had the best time. However! I don’t know anyone at these events. Well, not 100% true. I met a couple people in the local poetry scene about 6 years ago, briefly, when one of my poems was accepted in a local poetry magazine and I was invited to read it, and some of my other work, at the same club. Do you know what I remember about that night? Pretty much nothing. I was in a total and complete state of terror. I am in such awe of people that can read their own work in front of people and don’t look like they’re about to vomit up their own gallbladder. PEOPLE ARE JUDGING SOMETHING YOU DID AND LOOKING AT YOU AND THIS IS THE SCARIEST THING EVER. Yes, I know I can act and I write on here every day and I’m all over the Twitters and such, whatever, there’s a degree of anonymity there that’s not present when you’re reading your poetry in front of people. You’re pretty much saying, “Here, I wrote this, and it’s my heart? On the page? So please don’t shit on it, or squash it, because that might kill me?” It takes a level of bravery that I am just not in possession of.
So if they DID remember me, I’m pretty sure that’s what they would remember. The squeaky-voiced mouse who was shaking and a definite green color because OMG PEOPLE ARE LOOKING AT ME I’M GOING TO DIE NOW.
(The poems rocked, though. I was, and remain, totally proud of them. And the audience was actually very nice. So thank you, audience from 6 years ago, for not shitting all over my heart.)
Inner monologue yesterday: “Want to go to the poetry slam. BUT I WON’T KNOW ANYONE. So? It will be fun and you need to get out of the house. BUT WHAT IF IT’S AWKWARD. Then you won’t go back again! You need to start doing things that are outside of your comfort zone, delicate flower, because you know what? You won’t break. I’M GOING TO MAKE THAT WEIRD SMALL-TALK WHERE PEOPLE THINK I’VE BEEN RAISED BY WOLVES. You are the weirdest human being in the world, you are aware of this, right? NERVOUS-MAKING NERVOUS-MAKING NERVOUS-MAKING.”
Yeah, I totally went. Who’s a badass who faced her inner demons and won? Well, not really me, THERE ARE JUST TOO MANY OF THEM, but I talked myself into going into a situation I wasn’t comfortable with so that’s a total win on the scoreboard of my life in my book.
And you know what? I had a kickass time. Yeah, take THAT, inner doom and gloom voice!
I got to judge the poetry slam, first off, which you would know if you followed me on Twitter because I totally geeked out when that happened. Alright, pretty much anyone that said yes got to, THAT IS NOT THE POINT. Judging! With a clipboard and a marker! Which is kind of like voting? And you know how much I love voting. I love voting more than almost anything. I wanted them to give me one of those old-fashioned voting machines when they phased them out (which was just about the saddest event ever) so I could put it on my porch and vote on things like “what’s for dinner?” and “what television program should I watch now?” Honestly, if it were a choice between voting and sex? Sorry, fellas. Voting. Judging was only uncomfortable when I had to judge the person sitting in my row, because do you judge them based on their proximity to your seat and the potential that they might totally punch you and/or follow you to your car and kneecap you or something? Or do you judge them based on their poem? (I went with the poem. Because I am a very good judge. Also, I think I might have taken it a bit more seriously than I should have, because I am an anal weirdo. Along those lines, if you want me to judge anything for you, like a pie-eating contest or a horse race or a game of penny can, I AM YOUR WOMAN. I have tasted the power AND I LIKED IT.)
The poetry was excellent, the people running it were very nice and funny and intelligent and not-at-all nervous making (and asked the address of my blog, which I apologized while telling them, because they can actually write? And I…um…do this? Talk about whores and things that make me stabby and make pie charts about, well, whores and things that make me stabby? So, hi, actual real-life writers who I am NOT AT ALL DAUNTED BY IN THE LEAST WHO SEEMED VERY NICE. Please know that I DO know multi-syllabic words and CAN use grown-up sentence structure and KNOW how not to make every sentence a run-on. IT IS JUST NOT AS MUCH FUN.)
So, I left the house, successfully, and had a very enjoyable time, and didn’t have a nervous breakdown and need to rock in my seat and go to my happy place. FINE, I’ve never actually DONE that, except for in my head.
I’m completely going back next month when I have a Tuesday free. But now that I’ve judged, I don’t know that I can go back to being a commoner. THE POWER. THE POWER.
(Congratulations to everyone who won, and especially to Rain Dan, who walked away with top honors – just a beautiful, beautiful writer. Metaphors you would DIE for, seriously. So gorgeous. I’m not in the least bit jealous of talent like that. Nope! Not me! I’M NOT STOP ASKING LEAVE ME ALONE.)