11/14/2008

I think I'm alone now

Last Sunday I had the misfortune of attending an informal dinner party with the women from my antenatal group. I wasn't looking forward to it, but there was a promise of good curry and unfettered conversations about toddlers. It's hard to believe, but I'm up for any extended talk of children, particularly my own. My colleagues have to suffer through my occasional forays into, "Guess what P did today!" territory, so to be in a circle of women whose children I've known since birth for a few hours didn't seem like it would be too painful. Oh, to have a modicum of foresight...

There were 5 other women there, most of whom I like, but on a purely superficial basis. I was good friends with one of the women until I went back to work, but the chasm between my new full-time working life and her (very) part-time working life was apparently too vast. We made very awkward, first date kind of conversation Sunday night. She pretended to notice my weight loss - "You've lost your belly, and you can tell in your bum too!" - which is a complete load of bollocks considering I have a flat ass, not a fat one. I gain weight in my face, stomach, thighs, boobs, pretty much everywhere but my ass. It was all so forced, so trite, something to be said by the mother you pass as you're both dropping your kids off at school, not the woman who helped you through the roughest periods of early parenthood.

The night was miserable not just from the perspective of this lost friendship, but it made me realise why I have so few friends here. It has nothing to do with any great international divide; I'm just not made for idle middle class chit chat. I was sitting at the head of the table, silently soaking in all of the irrelevance - talk of curtains, stain removal, Asian cookery classes. None of that is me. I don't imagine it will ever be.

I want another tattoo (I only have one - not particularly bad ass, I know), I swear sometimes, I listen to loud, obnoxious music, I watch TV, I like to go to movies, I read, I write nonsense here, I lean pretty far to the left, I like to read, I like to talk about art and social issues. My free time is far too precious to me to spend it talking about curtain mold. That shit is BORING. When we get together I feel like they are the adults discussing proper grown-up issues, and I'm the bored teenager slumped in my chair, twisting my gum with my fingers and rolling my eyes skyward at each reference to an issue of suburban drudgery.

I seem to think that bloggers, at least the ones I read, are these wonderful, mythical beasts who somehow manage to avoid turning into suburban parenting bores. I think of them when I'm spending an evening with listless dullards making polite conversation for hours on end, wishing I was in their company talking of interesting things, ie, not mold spores.

So do us fascinating, multi-faceted women exist outside of blogging? If we do, where are we hiding? I live in one of the most densely populated cities in this country, yet the cool women are noticeably absent. Am I too picky? Perhaps I am, and I should instead focus on assembling a cadre of only mildly-boring folk. I think there might be a lot of that ilk to chose from.

I once thought that a place like that big blogging conference whose name I shall not mention lest I betray some kind of anti-slagging-off clause in my advertising contract would be a near-orgasmic experience, dripping in delightful bloggers. I would fall in love, and want to live in an all BlogHer (there, I said it) Xanadu. However, it now just seems to me to be a place where some go to be fawned over, and for others it's a place to fawn. All that ass-kissing, all the high school drama, it just makes me itch and get all stabby. The blogging world is perhaps less boring in parts, but I'm not keen on the politics either.

Based on last week's experience, I have been inspired to sequester myself in our flat until the cool people come and wrench me out. Be forewarned, I'm out the first time someone talks about the best way to get wax crayon residue off the radiator.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------

Pimp spot: New post on StK. Go forth and comment.

30 comments:

nutsinmay said...

I once found myself trapped in a conversation about remortgaging. I don't even have the one mortgage. I nearly stabbed myself in the face with a fork just to MAKE. IT. STOP.

One of my best friends has become a raging house-bore as well. She talks about DIY, her garden, DIY, the cats, DIY, work, DIY, and occasionally her parents. I WANT to talk about Art and Music and Books and favourite comedians and politics and gossip and, oh, OK, maybe the family and cats. I don't give a flying fuck what sort of tomatoes she's planting. Why is she telling me this stuff? Because it's Grown Up, and getting hysterically giggly about David Tennant and comparing knee-scars is not Grown Up. Feh. Feh feh feh feh feh. I feel betrayed. She was a friend. She was fascinating once. What changed? What went wrong?

On the point about bloggy goodness, and the less-than-admirable bloggerette behaviour - the 'problem' with blogging is that you get a chance to revise, check, make sure you are being funny and not merely drivelling or showing your metaphorical skid-marks. The problem with realtime conversation is we can't edit. Perhaps in real life I'd terrify and distress you with my bovine inability to discuss anything except the price of soya cappucinos. But I can promise I have nothing to say about radiators apart from a truly revolting anecdote about the time I threw up down the back of one.

Erica said...

I could have written this post myself. Well, except for all that British stuff.

I joined a playgroup, ostensibly for my daughter to learn to play with other kids and to make some "mom" friends, myself. But, I never fit in. They were grown-up moms. Politically correct moms. Moms who didn't use the phrase "for fuck's sake" ONCE in the entire conversation. Moms without tattoos or piercings or a love of Rage Against the Machine.

I never fit in. I always feel like I'm playing pretend at this grown up thing. I don't have one single "mom" friend.

I want some mom friends like you. Fancy a move to Texas?

doublespiral said...

Well, I am far, far away in the 'burbs of a newly-turned Blue state, but I feel your pain, sister! My one and only child just graduated high school last year and I still feel like I don't quite fit in with the other moms. I travel, I run a company, I still act like a huge goofball much of the time and I rarely act my age. Those other women seem like the grown-ups and I often feel more comfortable with the kids (and get mistaken for one of them more often than I even want to admit). I am familiar with the lonely in-between feeling of not fitting in quite right with any particular group. And I strongly share your loathing of the superficial. I can always think of so many "better things to do with my time" than yammer on about meaningless bullshit, just so that all involved can hear hear themselves yammer. I generally just have to remove myself from those situations fairly quickly, because I'm prone to saying what I actually think just a little too much. Maybe we should chat sometime -- about something interesting or something deep or just something having nothing to do with any sort of solvent or cleaning product... Hang in there - people with depth are lurking out there somewhere!

Christina - aka @doublespiral

kate said...

Dude. I'm fully convinced that they do. not. exist. outside the blogosphere. And I almost think it gets worse if you are of appropriate child bearing age and haven't had one yet, you really do come across as the sullen teen who would rather pick lint balls off her sweater than to EXPLAIN YOURSELF, MISSY, and SIT UP STRAIGHT FOR GOD'S SAKE.

And yeah. When I first started reading blogs, I thought that I should get one of those blog things so I can go to BlogHer and hand out business cards and meet all the famous people, but after getting a blog, I realized that BlogHer is apparently a giant Jizz-fest over whatever blogger du jour has the most commenters. Fawn or be fawned... no thanks.

I really think we need to have the sarcastic bitch version of BlogHer. I think the IF community is ripe with cynical assholes who can talk forever about how to get around being boring and conventional in this world that is ever pressing us into a mold. Of course, that just brings all the fawners out of hiding, because everyone wants to be friends with the cool, misanthropic ones, right? Sigh. Someday, we must figure a way to have a meet-up sans brown-nosers...

And yeah! I can totally tell that your butt is, like, WAY skinnier! (Someone told me that, too, and I also have no ass to speak of, and never have...)

B.Mare said...

Come visit. We'll go out and get drunk and bitch about...well, anything. I might do some muttering about how this entire flat is covered in porridge, but trust me, if you lived here, you would be obsessed with the issue as well. THERE IS PORRIDGE EVERYWHERE.

Helen said...

That does it. We're arranging a get-together. You, me, HFF, who else? There will be swearing. There will be tattoo and ass comparisons. There will be alcohol (and non-alcohol for you). Don't shirk away, now. I could use some friends, too, I think we all could.

Although, seriously - stain removal talk is like dirty talk. Bring out the Vanish and I'm your bitch.

Miz S said...

These women DO exist in real life! Some of them are my best friends! It's a damn shame they are in short supply where you are living. Don't give up, keep looking.

The Boisterous Butterfly said...

I always wonder what is wrong with me. I don't do idle chit chat very well and I quickly become extremely bored with real people. There are few who fascinate me. I love eccentric people, but outside the blogging world, they are harder to find. They must keep a low profile. Well, I do myself too, don't I? Most people are very self centered and talk about the minor details of their unimportant lives, which seem major to them. I don't care very much. I've heard it all. I would like to join a sisterhood of like minded people who are like me. Where do I find you people?

Anita said...

I spend 9 hours a day making idle chit-chat with clients while I sort through their account trouble, the last thing I want to do when getting together is make idle chat. It's just not fun and I find myself rolling my eyes during what I consider stupid conversations. What makes it hard for me is all of the damn moving with the army. If I have to sit and listen to one more wife tell me how fucking hard done by she is because her husband is on an overseas tour I will poke out my eyes and ears with a dull and rusty ice pick.

Since we moved it seems like the only person I talk to is Sgt. Not that this is a bad thing but a girl needs some girlfriends. I did meet someone at work who shared my interests and could swear like a mother-fucker but she has now moved away and I miss her.

I wish I was closer Pru so we could get together and discuss who has the most amount of floor food in their kitchen and why we think it helps our children build healthy immune systems. After I could help you get that crayon off of the radiator. Or we could just leave it there. Whatever.

thebestrevenge said...

Man, do I feel your pain. When I felt like that in Portland, I started a girl's happy hour group from a posting on Craigslist and met some amazing, cool women who are still my friends to this day (and I met some real weirdos too but that's not the point). I should think that the glut of cool female bloggers comes directly from NOT having enough cool people to hang out with and talk to.

I've lived in Mexico for almost two years and just now am making some really cool friends. It's extra hard here because A) everyone is wicked old and B) everyone else is in town for a week. If you want to have a "Cool Blogger Chicks with tattoos" convention here in Puerto Vallarta, I'll donate my guest room.

Sizzle said...

I would have felt bored too. While I am not a parent, I can imagine those kinds of get togethers. I know that there are people our age, married and with kids, who have conversations about other things. Right?

DD said...

A chance to get stabby over high-school drama is the only reason I'm going to BlogHer. Oh, and to be fawned over. Heh.

At least there is potential for you to meet cool women w/o having to go to BlogHer. Live where I do, AUS (Asshole of the United States), and the liklihood of me meeting bloggers is about as likely as me meeting George Clooney...if I wanted to meet George.

Betty M said...

I have been at that dinner party. My antenatal group were really tight for 3 years but we have fallen apart. Partly because people moved off to the outer burbs but mostly because at heart we seemed to have nothing to say to each other if we weren't talking about the kids. Whilst kid talk is ok if the kids are all there and you are just grabbing a coffee whilst they destroy a house or cafe actually when I have a night out I really don't want to talk about the kids I want to bitch about work, about stuff I'd read, politics, books, tv etc. I wanted to have proper conversations. Apart from my very oldest university friends who at this point are surrogate family I never have those proper conversations any more. Its all niceties and small talk and I am shit at that my face gives away the boredom and my attention drifts so I come across as a bit of a superior cow. It seems impossible to get past that superficial stage with anyone new I meet either at home or at work.

Being brutally honest with myself the reason I read blogs is because I am lonely without all the friends I used to have those conversations with who now, because we are all tired, busy and no longer living in the same place, I see too rarely to get the connection I want.

Korechronicles said...

Last week, in a group very much like the one you describe, one of them turned to me after I made a comment about something I had recently read, "Of course, I am not a deep thinker like you...etc". My OH-SO-CLEVER brain immediately exploded and my head swung around wildly as I looked for the nearest exit.

I don't have a tattoo but I can drink and swear with the best of them. But I've just this second realised I don't swear much at all when I blog. WTF?

Lotta said...

1.) I have a tattoo on my right shoulder. Which was a good choice cause it's the only part of me that didn't get fat. But I would love to get another one. A Kewpie doll with "Gracie" (my daughter) and a Rockabilly guitar with "Mack" (son).

2.) All the fun women live in England, Canada or the South. It's a fact.

3.) Mmmm..curry. I was an Au Pair for a year in Edenbridge, Kent and I can still smell that curry shop in town. Yum.

Anonymous said...

Oh yes I've suffered this. I call it "eye-peeling" boredom. You are not alone.

Jenn said...

These people do not exist outside the blogosphere. I feel your pain. I do. Next time you're around these parts we should totally get together and compare stains.

Aunt Becky said...

Well, here's the thing: BlogHer is in Chicago this year. Chicago = my hometown. And I am = to awesome, so you should come. You can stay with me at my house. Or not. Whatever. Jerk.

*sighs*

I know you and I have talked about this. I have almost no parental friends at all, and every time I think I might make one, it never happens. I guess I'm used to it by now. God, that sounds more depressing than I meant it to.

Emily said...

I SO hear you on this one. Since we moved to Canada all my female friends here are moms. Some of them are great at talking about things other than kids but a lot of them are not. I long for conversations about high heels, which champagne you can drink the most of without getting sick, make up and who from all the cop and detective shows we would most like to sleep with.

I'm terrified of turning into one of those mothers who can only talk about children and poo.

I think that all the glam, fun, mommies who drink do exist - we're just pretty spread apart IRL which is why we so adore each other's blogs! When beaming technology comes to exist we will have the best nights out ever!

Molly said...

I HEAR YOU.

I could have written this post, and I'd been thinking of writing a frantic post saying something like, "DO YOU KNOW ANY PEOPLE IN BATON ROUGE THAT ARE LIKE US THAT YOU CAN MAKE ME FRIENDS WITH??" Seriously, how do we meet people like us? I was fine in Madison, where I had classmates and coworkers that were cool. But now I'm in the South. And oh, but the South is different than Madison.

*sigh*

elizasmom said...

If you ever come to New England, I promise to discuss the Killers and how we should dress our kids up like little Alexes to go to Tanglewood and listen to Beethoven's 9th. I do tend to go on about my stupid house painting and gardening projects, but I promise you can just tell me I did a nice job and then you can tune out.

electriclady said...

Personally, I don't think I'm half as cool in person as in bloglife. It's hard for me to feel comfortable enough with new people to let my personality show, especially people who I know primarily from, say, the playground. So I'm sure there are neighborhood moms who know me only as the one who talks about the best way to keep mittens on a toddler.

It's also possible that I'm really not very cool at all. Come to think of it, my blog has been filled with a lot of boring toddler twaddle lately, too. Oh dear, I've become a pod person, haven't I?

rockmama said...

Idle chit chat is completely heinous. I've never gotten used to it; consequently, I think I probably come across awkwardly in informal social situations where I don't know anyone. I'd much prefer being able to sit on someone's couch, drink beer and be able to let one rip rather than be adept at saying a whole lot of nothing.

fisher queen said...

I find it helps if you just go ahead and say whatever it is you're thinking. You'll a)either shock the pants off the other mommies, which could be fun in and of itself, or b) discover that someone there was relieved to hear that you think Rob Zombie is sexy. Or whatever. I think most of the time people are too scared to be real.If you start off, others may follow. If not, it wasn't meant to be anyway.

--Also, I've noticed that there is no time to hold an actual conversation with kids around. I can't get out three words without having to pull something out of the bear's mouth or keep him from falling off the stairs--

DrSpouse said...

I'm still somewhat looking for female friends who are intelligent, politically aware, and can talk about infertility without trying to scatter babydust everywhere or telling me the clinic has said they'll freeze their eggs (possible, but unlikely in the UK). Oh, and aren't hundreds (or, currently, thousands of miles away - I have a couple of good friends who fit this category but live in London).

I do, however, quite like to talk about lasagna, foreign holidays, and how smug we feel about how cheap our house was. But I think I'm OK at the moment because not being a mother, I don't have to deal with boasting about Jocasta's grade 5 violin in person, only on the annual Christmas letter.

ms.bri said...

I am not ready to give up on the possibility of blogher and plan to go next year. And you should, too. I think it will of course have the drama aspect but can definitely also function as a place for the cool people to gather (and if anyone wants to fawn over us, really, so much the better and you know it).

Come hang out with meeeeee (whined).

T said...

Funny - I just asked G the other day if he minds being married to a teenager. Ok, an old lady that acts like a teenager (something about wearing a thong on the drive home from seeing a band the other night).

See - I have a big mouth (I know you're shocked), so if someone likes Sarah Palin, they're going to be completely offended and won't talk to me. I prefer it this way.

Thalia said...

Um Pru, are you feeling a little anti-England right now? Because I honestly don't think crappy dinner party conversation is an English thing, it's just the group of people you were with. Plenty of English women swear, like great music, talk about their children or their fucked-up uteri, books, the theatre or whatever. My antenatal class friends are a case in point - we have some things in common and some not, but we certainly manage to have fun at dinner.

I agree with others, it's time to say what you think to this group, and/or to maybe look for other friends in your town - is there a book group going from the local independent bookshop or a saturday morning music class or something that P and you might do together and meet other like-minded people? HOnestly, it is possible to find people to talk to outside blogworld, you aren't limited to this group forever!

hoping there's a good RL friend or two coming your way soon.

hairyfarmerfamily said...

Most of me wants to pile in here shouting Yeah! Yeah! Death to the Boring Masses! But then a little noise in my brain goes Ahem! and I feel a little nudge from the part of me that is worried that I AM the boring masses.

I feel my problem is simply verbal diarrhoea - I just go on & on - and the fact that I was a sales rep for a number of years. I can talk the hind leg off any number or species of donkey, and I feel a dreadful responsibilty to keep a conversation going. I don't do relaxed silences unless I'm very, very comfortable with my conversationee.

I'm also conscious that I blogged about a Rug Doctor recently.

I think I'm the enemy.

Gwen said...

Yes, cool women exist outside the blogosphere, but just like in blogland, the proportion of boring assholes to teh awesome is way skewed. I mean, think about all the blogs that exist. Think of how few a person can actually stomach as a percentage of that enormous number. The same principles exist in real life.

Diamonds are valuable for a reason (okay, that's a bad example, as diamonds are valuable because DeBeers told us long ago they should be and we all drank the Kool Aid). So metaphorical diamonds are valuable for a reason, just like good, interesting, smart, erudite friends.

And you know, even cool people can be horribly boring and trite sometimes, if they're uncomfortable or tired or feeling socially lazy. This isn't to take away from how awful that night was for you, because I have been there, trapped in conversations about fucking furniture buying.

Oh and BlogHer? (cliche! alert) It's what you make it. You can be fawny, and there's way too much of that going on, FOR SURE. You can be anxiety ridden and awkward and cry in bathrooms. Also too much of that going on. Or you can think, I'm going to hang with some super cool chicks for the weekend, and let the rest of it go.

Also, I live in Chicago, and so does Lotta, and we're some sweetass bitches. That oughta sell you if nothing else does.