Thursday, September 23, 2010

No Script Required

I recently thought about Outer Life, a once-active blog I used to visit back in the blogging heyday of the mid-2000s. The author's posts were always well-written and insightful. Most important, he often spoke my own thoughts; it was as if I was reading the words of the introverted, crowd-hating male me.

Of course, his life had taken a different course than mine: he'd had children. I didn't identify as much with him when he wrote about fatherhood. I still admired his writing, of course, and I still marveled at how alike we seemed to be, but I didn't "get" the whole parenthood thing.

Last night, out of the blue, I thought about Outer Life. The blog is on my Google Reader, so I knew it hadn't been updated in a while. But I missed the author’s writing, so I went back to the blog this morning and read a few of the old posts.

I love this one about children being "human shields" for introverted parents in social situations. Once again, I'm grinning, nodding, and saying things like, "Yes! Exactly! That's exactly how it is! I love you, Mr. Outer Life writer, you veritable mirror of me!"

I never intended on Scout being a human shield, but she has proven to be such a perfect one. Charming, sweet, and friendly, she’s made it unnecessary for me to do anything in social situations anymore. I need only sit with her on my lap. I smile and nod at the people who stop to admire her, and that is enough. Life, in the social realm at least, has suddenly become very easy.

(Funny, most of my social circle these days consists of people who also have children Scout's age--i.e., people under 30. Which means that the usually fun conversations about the 80s, when we all dyed our hair-sprayed, 80s-mullet-style hair purple and rocked out to Def Leppard and screamed until our throats were raw at Duran Duran concerts, don't happen. And if they do, I'll get the eyebrow raise.)

(Yes, I've gotten the eyebrow raise. It's then that I steer the conversation back to safer topics, such as The Cute Things Our Babies Do and The Finer Points of Pat-a-Cake.)

The thing I've always hated about social situations is that I feel like an actor onstage with no lines. Give me my lines, and I'm fine. Put me in front of a classroom with my script, and I'll do great. Heck, put me in front of an auditorium full of people, and I can be as polished, witty, and interesting as any practiced speaker. That's because I know my lines.

And believe you me, I've worked very hard at learning lines for different social situations. I've become quite good at "being social"—good enough, at least, that most people have a hard time believing that I'm the shy, crowd-hating introvert that I am. I know that those skills will atrophy in these years that Scout is my human shield, and that, like the Outer Life author, I'll have a difficult time once Scout is old enough to run off with the other kids, leaving me awkward and mumbling with the adults.

I can already tell that I'm losing my hard-earned touch, in those few situations where I'm among adults and Scout is with her father, or her sitter, or the sweet little old lady at church who's holding her.

But I'll worry about that later. For now, I welcome the fact that social situations are not the stress-inducing experiences they were before Scout was born. I'm gladly bowing out of the responsibility to make small talk in favor of floating at the periphery of the phenomenon that is my delightful nine-month-old child. I'm happy to retreat to quiet rooms to nurse her, and to leave the party early because the baby needs her rest.

It's a good life. I think I'll enjoy the next four or five years of it.

Oh, and Here's a Recent Anne Picture



This is baby "Scout" in the the old Standing Indian shelter with her Daddy, "Sheltowee." How do you like her hiking pants?

We hiked about a mile from the trailhead to this shelter to check out camping spots. We're hoping to take "Scout" on her first overnighter before the weather gets cold.

Update for Wednesday, Sept. 22

Happy autumn, everyone! Here's a squash picture:



Autumn 2010, like autumns 2009, 2008, and 2007 before it, finds me up to my ears in my day job, which is actually more of a day-through-evening job these days.

Yes, I'm tired. And what else is new?

But you aren't here to read about me, so I'll give you the latest update on Miss Anne.

She had her nine-month doctor's appointment yesterday. She's a healthy, happy little boo who weighs 17 pounds and is 27 inches long. That's the 15 percentile for weight and the 35 percentile for height. No, she's not underweight or too thin ... one look at her chunky little thighs will prove otherwise. She's just a little girl. She'll probably be petite like her mama.

She is walking (some) with a walker. She loves books. She loves to dance and hear music. She's a very social little girl and loves to be around other children. (She definitely gets this from her dad.) She has a funny little laugh and is laughing more every day (but she still seems to have a seriousness about her).

Her favorite toy is my cell phone. She's actually figured out that, if she presses enough buttons, she can unlock the phone and speed-dial people. She discovered the ringtones feature yesterday and had a grand old time listening to all the tunes.

She's still getting a lot of breastmilk, but she's also eating solid foods. Her favorite foods so far seem to be carrots and sweet potatoes. She doesn't like bananas. At first, I thought, "How can she not like bananas? Doesn't everybody like bananas?" Then I remembered that I never liked bananas until I started running ... at age 36.

She still likes to go to bed at 10:00 and wake up at 5:30. She's begun teething again, so my usual lack of sleep is even more lacking. Sigh.

So, that's the Anne update. And this may be my last update for a while.

Hope everyone has a happy rest-of-September! Here's another squash picture, for those who weren't satisfied with just one:

Monday, September 20, 2010

Monday, September 13, 2010

Life Lately, 9/13/10

It's a good thing I'm not blogging much these days. Here are a few things I wrote in my personal journal today:

I'm at the iei doctor ritenow

Dint fele comfortble wit hthat

Its hard to ritte wite writte writtt with theis ths pen

As ual they seme two be runing laete

Yes. Seriously. This is how I'm writing these days. Perhaps I shouldn't admit that. I am a professional writer, after all, and people from work read this blog. I'm usually really good at spelling. I knew as I misspelled things today that I was spelling them wrong, and I even tried to correct them a few times. As you can see, it wasn't worth the effort.

I'm spelling things correctly at work, for some reason. Actually, I'm not, but that's the joy of programs like Word and Framemaker. Mistakes are deleted and corrected in an instant. My handwritten errors are there forever.

So, I'm possibly losing my mind, or else I'm just really tired. I've found that the two go hand in hand, so I guess that's what's happening now.

So, here are a few updates on life:

- My parents both had birthdays recently. We spent a day this past weekend with my mom, dad, sister, brother-in-law, and niece Ella. Miss Anne loves her cousin Ella. Of course, she wants to play with whatever Ella is playing with. Ella, who is almost two years old, would say, "No, Baby Anne" whenever Anne would try to grab her toy. It was cute. Ella was good about sharing, but I think she lost some patience with Miss Anne, who was relentless in her pursuit of Ella's selected toys.

- Work is getting very busy. I usually look forward to the craziness of development season. Not this year. I'm just tired. Want to lie down and sleep for the winter. That is all.

- I played piano for church yesterday. I played pretty well, except for one big, screaming blooper in the intro to the Doxology. Oops. Funny because I made the same blooper last time I played for church. It isn't a difficult intro to play. I just messed up on it twice. Sigh. But it wasn't a big deal. Funny how I would have stressed about something like that a few years ago, when I was at the height of my pianistic skills. Now I'm kind of like, "Eh ... whatever."

- I volunteered to play piano for church more often. I really do love playing hymns. I can't sing, so it's the one way I can really participate in congregational singing. Plus, when I'm at the piano, the choir is three feet from me. And I love hearing their four-part harmony as I play.

- Whenever everyone is singing the hymns, Anne makes this funny guttural, growling noise the whole time. At first, I wasn't sure what was wrong with her, what she was complaining about ... and then I realized: She's singing!

- Anne is now nine months old. She's developing her fine motor skills, learning to pick up food and feed herself, stack smaller cups into larger cups, and stack rings. I'm more in love with her than ever. And I'm finally at the point where I have trouble remembering what life was like before her.

That's about it for today. Stay tuned for another exciting blog entry ... in about a month or so!