[Introvert Series] Think First, Talk Later (Maybe)

As an introvert, I constantly find myself wandering down differing paths of potential conversation – but (un)luckily for those around me, these intriguing diversions are only inside my head. I am an attentive listener, but I have this factory churning out thoughts in the background, and it has become an automated process while my brain manages the intake of information. The factory considers possible connections or stories I could tell in relation to yours, but if there are too many people in the group, I rarely open my mouth. There is too much to take in. There is too much to learn. Putting my own experiences into words with which I am satisfied takes time, which is not always ample in group conversations.

I’ve become so absorbed with listening to what others have to say that when someone asks me, “what do you think about that?” my mental factory grinds to a halt. It takes a long time to switch gears between observing/cataloguing to creating verbal output. It isn’t very often that someone has the patience to wait during this process, group setting or not. I do have a really great person who supports me when I do this, but it is not something that would suit a group setting; instead of one person waiting for me to come up with intelligent feedback, I’d be weighted down by multiple sets of eyes, potential exasperated sighs, and more than likely “my time” would be up before I could bring myself to say what I want with the eloquence it deserves.

When asked something to which I don’t know the immediate, short answer, I need time to think it over, then give my verbal response (maybe; sometimes I keep it to myself, or write about it instead). I don’t talk just for the sake of talking; when I talk, I am trying to express something specific. I may need to write down a specific thought I have and flesh it out when I have more capacity for tending to my own thoughts, as I default to listening to those around me. I feel rude when I do this (no, I’m not texting, I’m using the Memo Pad on my phone so I don’t forget this thing I want to explore).

This can be frustrating. I have certainly felt other people get upset with the amount of time and space I need to produce a seemingly simple answer. It is rarely simple; this world is complex, and although I am more than willing to concede that I don’t know much on the grand scale of things, I want what I do put forth to not just be the product of a time crunch. If I speak too soon, I end up doing a lot of clarifying. I want to do all of that work ahead of time, so my thought product is easier to understand, instead of letting others sit through my entire thought process.

[Introvert Series] Guilt

I’m writing this post to stop myself from making vegan cherry ice cream at 9 o’clock in the morning. I froze all the ingredients yesterday around noon, hoping they’d be ready by the evening, but they weren’t, so I’m making it today. The reason I am distracting myself with writing is because I don’t want to be a cliché. I want to eat that ice cream in joy, not in sadness. My neighbours probably don’t want to hear my really loud food processor this early, either.

Usually, a little isolation is exactly what an introvert needs; however, we still like seeing our friends. I was supposed to attend a potluck yesterday, which my friend holds monthly, but as time grew closer, I freaked out. I didn’t know how many unknown people would be there. I didn’t know if there would be anything I could eat (I’m vegan and have some really strange allergies). I wasn’t confident in my own culinary skills (I made a huge batch of dip from chickpeas, black beans, garlic, lemon juice, salsa and a hint of mustard, but I don’t think the beans soaked long enough, so it didn’t have a great texture). I let my friend know I might not be coming.

She completely understands introversion, and even offered that I could come without bringing a dish (since I also cited my lack of faith in what I was creating). Why didn’t I go? Logically, that back yard can only hold so many people. Logically, I know a lot of her friends, and they are nice. Logically, given the demographics of our city and her friend base, there must be other people bringing items that I would be more than happy to eat.

Unfortunately, logic goes out the window when I start to get an introversion-related anxiety attack. I forced myself to shower, and to prepare the food I had set aside that morning, but I never made it back out of the pajamas I wear around my house, and the weird dip is in my fridge (I was hoping an overnight to sit would help it out; I also need so purchase some tortilla chips with which to eat it).

I didn’t want to sit in the guilt of not attending the event my friend lovingly invited me to, so I continued to binge through episodes of the fourth season of “Pretty Little Liars” on Netflix. I worried about their much more serious problems for a while, but this reflection only serves to down play what I was experiencing. Their problems are fictitious, whereas mine are real.

I feel angry at myself for not making it out of my pajamas. I feel angry that I didn’t go purchase a back up plan of an offering and attend the potluck, or that I didn’t accept the invitation to just bring myself.

And now I feel alone. I sure felt it last night, after I decided I’d had my fill in Rosewood. I felt it while eating the sushi I ordered to replace my meal plans for the evening. I felt it when I turned in for the night, not even 11 o’clock. Sure, I’d done some productive things that morning, but those activities were followed by eleven episodes of fiction about friends who always stick together.

I feel guilty that I am the only one to blame for being alone. As much as I value alone time, and conversations in small groups, sometimes it can be too much, especially when I am feeling the guilt of not being somewhere I had wanted to be, or not doing something I want to do. I didn’t write at all yesterday and beyond resting, writing was the second reason I wanted a week off work. I feel like I am wasting my time, wasting my potential, and that I might as well have just worked because then I would at least have had some use.

I hadn’t planned this topic for the series, but I am glad that I was able to identify that it was happening and get the words out. I’m sorry for all the social gatherings I miss. I’m sorry that my anxiety sometimes makes me feel powerless. I am sorry that I fear that I am unable to find balance between resting and laziness. I’m sorry that I am alone right now.

Hank Green and the Perfect Strangers Concerts

This weekend was full of Nerdfighter activities.

When Hank Green announced that he was doing a show in Seattle, I pretty much immediately decided I wanted to go, and asked my group of Facebook friends is anyone wanted to come along. Seattle is not very far from Victoria as the crow flies, but there are differing methods of getting there, and a lot of them take a lot of time. The other alternative is the Clipper, which goes from downtown to downtown in about 3 hours, but is very expensive. I got a bonus at work a couple months ago, so I splurged.

Brie, my writing partner over at The Quotidian Project, was very emphatic about attending the concert with me, so tickets were purchased immediately. When I happened to find out a few weeks later that a second show was added, I really wanted to go to that one, too. I asked her if we were the kind of nerds that go to both shows; I was delighted when she agreed that we were (I already knew I was, but didn’t want to go to the second one by myself is she was just going to wander Seattle in an abandoned manner).

Tickets books, we found a hostel a couple weeks before going, and booked the Clipper. I made sure to go to bed early the night before, as using the Clipper is something I get nervous about, as the last time I was supposed to use it, the water was too wavy and we had to take the 10 hour alternative route. We did not have time for that – we’d miss the first concert. I wanted to make sure I did everything within my power (since weather is not in my power) to get to the Clipper with plenty of time, and ensure things ran smoothly. Brie joined me, we boarded without too many issues (Brie almost left her comfy sweater in the waiting room before Customs), and we were on our way. We sat with a nice woman named Jenni who was from Alaska, and chatted about our travels, work, and lives for the duration of the trip. We exchanged information before parting ways in Seattle, which reminds me that I need to add her as a friend on Facebook.

Navigating to the places we needed to find in Seattle was amazingly easy. The hostel was about a twently minute walk from Pier 69, and the The Crocodile (the venue for the shows) was about ten from their, but we meandered, recognizing that we would need to eat before arriving, as we’d be at the venue for a very long time (waiting in line time, as well as two concerts). At random, we stopped at what turned out to be the only pub I had ever been to in Seattle before (on a trip for a previous employer back in 2008).

We arrived an hour and a half before the doors opened, but were definitely not the first in line. It was mind-blowingly awesome to see so many Nerdfighters in one place – especially when I started recognizing Pizza John shirts, TFiOS themed bags/shirts, a stuffed Hanklerfish, and tons of other DFTBA related clothing. As Brie and I were chatting, two girls behind us politely interupted and asked, “Are you from Canada?” Upon finding out that we were, they explaimed “We are, too!” As we were getting to know them, the three girls in line behind them politely interupted: “Excuse me, are you guys from Canada? We are, too!”

Out of the 10-20 Canadians in the crowd for the first show, 7 happened to line up together, and we found an eighth (and his folks) standing near us during the show. Jokes.

The information we had received about the show only mentioned one opening act, but there were three: Rob Scallon, whose music was fantastically beautiful and a treat to see live, Andrew Huang (songstowearpantsto), a talented comedy song writer from Toronto, and Driftless Pony Club, a group that has been together for longer than some of the audience members had been alive (about 15 years). I was able to give Rob a brief congratulations of his opening act at some point during the evening, chatted with Andrew for a while, got a picture with him and got him to sign a CD, and Brie and I both got a hug from Sam of Driftless Pony Club when we told him during the second show that we loved the first show.

While on a Merch Recon Mission during a break in the first show, I also met Matthew Gaydos, who seemed surprised yet delighted when I glanced at him (he happened to be beside me) and said, “Hey, you’re Matthew Gaydos. I really like your videos.” I got a picture with him as well. He was wearing the shark shirt in the video I linked.

Hank’s set with the ever revolving Perfect Strangers (the basist was at a wedding, so they had taught friends a couple songs each, and they kept switching around) was fantastic. The crowd sort of messed him up a little by singing the alternative explicit lyrics to “I Love Science” (I have a further story about that in a bit). He uses up an incredible amount of energy – at some points he takes breaks, and sits of lays down on the floor. He got Andrew to introduce the story behind “Hug Scream” so he could sit and listen. In short, the show was fabulous.

We also spotted The Katherine in the crowd and at the merch table a few times, but didn’t find a non-strange way of saying hello to her.

I purchased Incongruent, and we found Hank in the alley out back, doing a signing line. He signed my album, gave each of us a hug, and took a picture with us. I then offered him a signed copy of The Andy Project, explaining that Nerdfighteria has been a big part of helping me build my creativity, and I might not have written it without that community support. He accepted, and I scrawled to following on the title page:

Dear Hank,
DFTBA!
Kathy Trithardt

…. And then we joined the line for the second show.

We decided to try to get a place on the little balcony for the second show, but all the places where you could actually see the stage were taken by the time they let us back in, so we ended up standing on the other side of the stage from where we were in the first show. The musicians had been treated with donuts and whiskey back stage, from someone in the audience, which must have helped keep the energy up for the second show (Brie and I calculated that we spent over 8 hours standing in or around that building before we wandered back to the hostel at 2am).

This side of the stage was further away from the open door to the smoke pit, so I went in search of water during Andrew’s act. This is when I encountered Hank for the second time. We talked about how this was the first time that people sang the explicit lyrics back at him during the show, slightly throwing him off, and how even though he would love to just sign that version during the second show, the venue does not want him to (it was also an all ages show, so there was a 5 year old on the shoulders of one man). He was tired, but in good spirits, and then had to excuse himself to pee before his set. He explained when he was back on stage that he had to pee three times before the show, because he still gets nervous. I find this guy very endearing, and can completely understand given my introversion.

Brie bought the tour poster (which is gorgeous) after the second show and we made our way back to the hostel. Only a few hours a sleep later, we were up, eating a first breakfast, then a second (there was not much Brie could eat at the free hostel breakfast, and then not much I could eat at the cafe we found after wandering around the quiet streets of Seattle). We took another wander through the mostly closed Pike Place Market, which was peaceful due to it not being entirely open yet, and then spent a very nerdy chunk of time at the Experience Music Project (sci-fi, fantasy, horror and music nerds – put this on your bucket list) before boarding the Clipper and attempting to nap on the way home.

(Fun fact: part way through this entry, my keyboard switched to French, and I think I have to restart my computer to switch it back. This caused me to be unable to use quotes or apostrophies. I might attempt to go back and edit them in after the reboot, but I might just leave the post alone. I have my Quotidian post to do, as today is my day, so I have more writing ahead of me.)