NaBlogWriMo 8: Cold Snap

We are in the middle of our first cold snap of the 2018 – 2019 winter here in Albuquerque. Yesterday’s high was 40 whole degrees, with overnight lows in the 20s. Lor and I are dressed in multiple thermal layers, huddled around the space heaters, praying for Spring to come and save us.

I was chatting with a guy from Cincinnati yesterday who I was saying it is currently warmer back home than it is here. “I thought Albuquerque was warmer than this!” he exclaimed. “If it is like this in November, how bad is it in January?”

Just for the heck of it, I looked up Cincinnati’s weather this morning. In icy Ohio, it is currently 37 degrees Fahrenheit. Here in the desert Southwest, it is currently 24 degrees.

I never thought I would want to move North for the winter.

That Icy Feeling

Apparently, that frozen feeling is just going around these days. We are also in the middle of a “cold” period in our daily exercise routine. To wit, we no longer have one.

It has been weeks since we darkened the door of our local gym. Right at the worst time of year to stop going, I should add. Winter is when the metabolism starts slowing down and trying extra hard to store fat. It is also the time when you are less likely to actually go places and do things, preferring to stay home bundled under blankets.

So, what happened? Why did we gradually peter out on our religious exercise routine?

Well, you know. Life happened. Schedules got compressed. Depression struck. You name it, it sure happened.

I am now at the point where I can’t even think about exercising without cringing – partially in shame, partially in exhaustion. And I am supposedly a fitness expert. I have letters to put after my name and everything.

The Movement Condundrum

As it is, only my Fitbit is currently keeping me mobile at all. Once an hour, every hour, it buzzes on my arm, and I force myself to do something. Take out the trash. Pick up after the dog. Fold some laundry. Anything that will convince the evil spirit that lives on my wrist that I am really doing its bidding.

But, the last time I really exercised? That was last month. The dog was going stir crazy, running around the house, so I took her for a walk. She was so hyper that she kept straining on the leash, rushing ahead of me. In order to keep up with her, the walk turned into a run.

We wound up running about two miles.

And darned if it didn’t feel good. Just to be moving again. I promptly committed to myself that I would start doing this every day again.

And I promptly broke my promise to myself the next day, of course.

Even talking about it today makes me uncomfortable. There is nothing really stopping me from heading to the gym today. But Lor has a cold, and I have a ton of editing to do on C. Charel Kunz’ novel Reborn (available now on Storyshop, coming soon to Amazon!), and it is too damn cold anyway.

So, yeah. My motivational skills are lacking when I can’t even talk myself into doing something.

Structure Is The Key To Success

So, how am I going to get past this?

Structure. It is really the only solution.

After all, I can still run two miles. I still only weigh 178 pounds. The time to act is now, before entropy sets in. I would hate to face Spring of 2019 weighing over 200 pounds and gasping when I walk around the block.

So I need to institute structure around my workout routine. Telling myself all day long that I will go work out “in a while” obviously isn’t working.

Because I know a little secret about myself: I am a born procrastinator. There used to be a Mark Twain quote on my desk at work: “Never put off until tomorrow what you can do the day AFTER tomorrow.”

I am even the same way with writing, an activity I love. It is still very easy to get up first thing in the morning and look at my iPad with distaste. Maybe I could just look at Facebook or ESPN for a while? Or just play a couple rounds of XCOM or BattleTech on the PC?

And, next thing I know, it is noon, and my most productive writing hours are gone.

So, instead, I use the carrot and stick approach.

I absolutely do not allow myself to touch a video game or other interest until I have either A) written 500 words, or B) edited 1,000 words. The 500-word mark comes from needing to produce a 10,000-word episode every month for Fiction Vortex – 5 days a week x 4 weeks a month = 20 days to produce 10,000 words. Do the maths, and I have to create 500 words a day just to stay afloat.

This month, for NaBlogWriMo, I have committed to working on the daily blog post instead of the usual requirements, but you get the picture. (I actually got a full episode ahead of schedule on Executor just so I could write something different this month.)

There Is No Carrot, There Is Only Stick

The trick now is to figure out where to fit in the commitment to exercise. After all, I already know that exercise has an endorphin reward built right in. And that hasn’t been enough to get me moving. So, where the heck is my “Carrot?” My only motivation, therefore, has to be “Stick.”

There has to be a block of time, every day, specifically dedicated to fitness. Has to. I’ve given that advice to dozens of people going through bariatric surgery.

However, I am not willing to give up my most productive writing hours, early morning, in order to work out. And the rest of the time our daily schedules are so fluid that I have no idea where to fit in a dedicated block of time.

It is a pretty problem, to be sure.

I deal with forgetting to take my cocktail of daily anti-seizure meds with alarms throughout the day. I deal with lack of motivation to write by getting started immediately upon waking up before I am fully aware of what I am doing.

So, in a perfect world, I would exercise in the evening.

But I have so much trouble talking myself into leaving the house after 6 pm that I am pretty sure that idea is doomed to failure. Hell, I have trouble talking myself into leaving the house pretty much any time of day. So I will wrestle with it and let you all know what I come up with.

Sigh. At least my mind is getting a daily workout these days.

Catch you all tomorrow,

– Jeremy Schofield, CPT

(Told you there were letters after my name)

NaBlogWriMo 6 & 7: One Stent Up, Two Stones Back

Yup, actually installed in my body.

I started this intending to talk a little about my most recent bout with kidney stones. The most frustrating thing (for me, anyway) about kidney stones is that they are mostly preventable. Even though they are noted as a potential side effect of bariatric surgery, avoidance is simple: adequate hydration. Every time this happens to me, as I moan and groan and wait for things to start flowing again, a single thought occurs to me: “Did I hydrate enough today?”

And the answer, invariably, is “NO.”

But, as I told the story, it kept growing. And growing. And growing some more.

Thus, the tale that was supposed to be produced last Friday spent 3 days being written instead. It is now longer than some short stories I have created.

So, get yourself comfortable, and check your squeamishness about bodily functions at the door.

A Painful Burning Sensation

Our tale begins back on July 6 of 2018. On our way home from a family visit in Santa Fe, I noticed a mild pain in my back. I didn’t worry too much about it – I had just spent the last 4 days in the car, courtesy of the 4th of July holiday.

As it turns out, I should have worried about it.

All day long, the pain increased, and no amount of stretching would alleviate it. As the pain worsened that evening, it occurred to me that I might have a bigger problem. I hadn’t urinated once, all day.

This continued for the next 48 hours.

Finally, during a visit to the dentist’s office, the real pain struck. That oh so familiar sensation, like an ice pick being shoved through the abdomen. I had developed another kidney stone. (Though, in hindsight, not going to the bathroom for two days probably should have been a clue.)

The visit to urgent care that evening wasn’t great. The PA on duty asked me to identify where my kidneys were. After I was able to do so correctly, he chewed me out for not coming in sooner. “Are you trying to rupture a kidney?” he asked. I hadn’t even been aware that this was a thing I should be worried about.

You can bet I was worried now, though.

He injected me with a mild muscle relaxer and told me that if the no-flow problem hadn’t corrected itself overnight that I was to report to the Emergency Room.

At 7 AM the next day, I was among the first in line.

The Hospital House of Horrors

In one sense, I feel bad for the folks that work the local emergency room. They have to work insanely long shifts dealing with the dregs of humanity.

On the other hand, this can leave them with a certain, shall we say, “casual” approach to tending to legitimate patients like myself.

I will admit that reporting that I hadn’t urinated in three days got me through the initial triage stage pretty quickly. But, after being placed on a bed in the back…nothing happened. For hours. A nurse came by and told me that someone would be by shortly to administer some pain meds. This became a familiar refrain as a parade of nurses, nurse’s aides, and even a couple of EMTs all promised to produce medication to deal with the agonizing waves of pain that were now emanating from every point of my body south of my chest.

After several hours of this, I finally pounced (metaphorically) on the next nurse that happened by, and I asked for a catheter. This might have been the point where they started taking me seriously. Probably not too many requests for one of those in the average day.

For those that don’t know, a catheter involves taking a flexible hose, about half the size of a normal drinking straw, and inserting it into your body. Yup, right through the aperture that your urine normally flows through. I can feel you wincing from here. I can assure you, it feels even worse than you are thinking it does.

Unfortunately, even this drastic remedy provided no relief. I could tell the nurse was deeply suspicious when she got it implanted and almost nothing flowed out the other end. I could hear her thinking: “Have I just inherited one of those people who enjoy being in pain?” She promised me drugs (again) and then vanished.

A few more hours went by. During this time, I was now in pain both internally (from the kidney stones), and externally (from the catheter, which I remain convinced was a veterinary version designed to be put into livestock, and not designed for the human body.) Lor literally had to talk me out of removing the thing myself.

At last, someone showed up to haul me off to the Imaging department. They were going to MRI me to find out just what the heck was going on internally. I thought this would bring relief.

I was wrong. So very, very wrong.

Under The Microscope

I could tell that things weren’t going to go well when I got parked outside the door to Imaging. The person pushing my hospital bed was bitterly complaining to someone on the phone about what an asshole her boyfriend/spouse/SO was while we waited. When my turn came, she rolled me into the room, being sure to hit every single bump and corner in the hallway. Considering even breathing was painful at this point, this did nothing for my mental state.

But the coup de grace came as I was transferred from my bed to the MRI slab. Undoubtedly frustrated with all things male, my technician tried to “help” me move faster from bed to machine. In doing so, she managed to pinch the hose of my catheter between the rolling bed and the immobile MRI machine. She then yanked me across from one platform to the other.

I moved, the catheter hose did not.

By the time she sorted out what had occurred, I was literally lying on the MRI weeping in pain. She rolled the bed away, readjusted the hose, and walked out of the room, her vengeance upon the male half of the species accomplished. No apology was forthcoming.

By the time I got back to the emergency room, I was ready to just die and get it over with. I did finally get an assigned nurse, who also promised me drugs. She agreed to remove the catheter from my bruised and battered equipment, wincing when I told her the story about my experience in Imaging.

More hours passed.

Size Matters

That evening, a full 11 hours after I checked myself in, a Doctor appeared.

“Guess you’re not feeling too good, eh?” he asked jovially. I agreed that, indeed, I was not. “Well, there’s a reason! You’ve got a big ol’ kidney stone. 10 centimeters. We’re going to try to schedule you for emergency surgery tonight. In the meantime, I’ve approved you for all the pain meds you want. You must be miserable.”

With that, he left. I was so deliriously happy at the potential application of endless morphine that it took me several minutes before I processed what he had said.

…10 centimeters…?

I was pretty sure I was remembering my metric conversion correctly but wasn’t an inch equivalent to 2.5 centimeters?

Did I really have a kidney stone FOUR INCHES in diameter stuck in my piping somewhere?

I asked Lor for my phone. Puzzled, she handed it over to me. I called the only person who I knew would assist me.

“Dad,” I said when he answered the phone, “they’ve just told me I have a 10 cm kidney stone. If they tell me that they want me to PASS this thing, I need you to take me out behind the barn and shoot me.”

My father solemnly agreed to do so and added that he and my mother were on their way to the hospital now.

Metric Fractions

While my hospital room began filling with family members, I was visited by my nurse and a nurse’s aide. They were astonished by my doctor’s diagnosis. They rummaged around on the computer system and returned with a couple of pieces of news.

The good news: my doctor misspoke. The “stone” was 10 MILLIMETERS, not centimeters.

The bad news: 10 millimeters is still the size of a bullet for a good sized handgun. There was no way it was going to pass on its own. I would, indeed, have to have surgery.

More bad news: my doctor had sort of buried the lead while raving over the size of the kidney stone. Turns out I had STONES (multiple), not a single one. I had a 10mm one blocking the ureter on one side. Then, there was a 4mm stone actually stuck in the ureter on the other side.

No wonder I hadn’t been able to move any fluids for nearly three days.

Since I now had free access to all the drugs I wanted, I will admit that the rest of the evening is a bit of a blur for me. I was finally taken back for surgery about 11 PM. After admitting myself to the ER at 7 AM, mind you. Later on, in recovery, I was convinced that my Urologist said they had only removed one stone. Must’ve been the drugs, right?

Wrong. They really had only removed one of the two stones – the smaller one. I would have to set up an appointment to have the other one taken care of.

The Gift That Kept On Giving

In the meantime, they had left me with a special present…a device called a “stent”. This involves jamming latex tubing up through your ureters in order to keep them open and to assist in passing any smaller particulate that might be trying to come through.

It also leaves you with a (no shit) length of fishing line emerging from the same aperture your urine flows through. The end of the line is then taped around your gear, so you don’t “accidentally” remove it.

The problem? The tape had been applied inexpertly. I had what looked like half a roll of scotch tape wrapped around me half a dozen times, pinning the fishing line in place. Unfortunately, they had not given me enough slack in the line. Every time I shifted position, it yanked my equipment this way and that. I’ve heard of men being led around by their penises, but this was ridiculous.

I asked my long-suffering wife to fix this after we finally made it home. She took one look at the situation and went looking for scissors. After she calmed me down and reassured me that she was not preparing to amputate, she told me what had happened. Apparently, the surgical staff had not bothered, umm, “cleaning up” the area before they applied the rolls of tape. Consequently, I had bunches of pubic hair all gathered up in the rolls of tape along with the fishing line.

10 minutes and a trim later, I was finally no longer being yanked to and fro. I put myself back together, and we headed off to the pharmacy to get the supply of pain meds that would have to tide me over until my next surgery. Which had not even been scheduled yet, by the way.

You Can’t Haz No Drugs

Because the surgical gods were still not smiling upon me, there was another issue. A big one. The pharmacy would not fill my prescription.

It seems that the urologist who performed my emergency stone-ectomy, (OK, fine, it is referred to as a “lithotripsy.”) was NOT licensed in the state of New Mexico. He was a recent transplant from Arizona and had not completed his licensure requirements here.

The upshot of this was that they would not fill my prescription whatsoever. I was going to have to suffer in stoic silence through the next several weeks until my second lithotripsy.

I considered suffering in silence beautiful. For about 30 seconds. Then I busted out my medical marijuana card and had Lor drive me to the closest dispensary.

Thank God for medical marijuana is all I have to say. The same substance that assists me with seizure control was about to keep me from being in unending pain for the next three weeks. After trying (and failing) to keep straight faces after I told them the whole story, the budtenders at R. Greenleaf had mercy on me. They set me up with a vaporizer loaded with a strain designed for folks suffering from intractable pain and sent me home.

The Stone and The Stent

And there I sat, for the next three weeks. Completely baked, on my couch, craving Cheetos and Oreos. Every time I could feel the pain emanating from either my stone or my stent I would self-medicate again.

It is entirely possible that I smoked more weed in that three-week period than I had consumed in my entire adult life leading up to that point.

My doctors had informed me that I would get used to the stent in a day or so. My doctors lied. I never stopped being in pain from the installation of miles of latex tubing shoved into my urinary tract. When combined with the irregular pulses of pain from the over-large kidney stone, I was not sure I would make it to the procedure to have them both removed.

As it turns out, I only got to have one removed. The second lithotripsy went smoothly, but I was dismayed to discover that I would be leaving with the thrice-damned stent STILL INSTALLED.

Turns out I would have to wait another week before I could remove that horrible, horrible stent.

Before,  I removed, you ask? Oh, yes. After your recovery period, you are told to grab that nasty line emerging from your equipment and yank it out yourself.

I thought that the day could not come fast enough. When it finally arrived, I self-medicated, covered Lor’s massage table with old ruined sheets, and assumed the position. Lor, as fascinated as always with anything involving human physiology, offered to assist. I declined. She settled in to observe instead.

The Never-Ending Latex

Thus, my journey toward freedom from the stent began. I pulled. It hurt. I pulled some more. It hurt even more. I kept on yanking, tears streaming down my face. I went through my entire vocabulary of curse words and began inventing new ones. And still, the thing wouldn’t come out.

I had started to wonder if another error had been made. Did the surgical team leave behind a spool of fishing line inside my kidney? But, finally, a piece of latex tubing emerged. This, then, was the stent, apparently. I was maybe halfway there. I kept crying and pulling. The pile of fishing line and latex just kept growing.

Meanwhile, Lor was so fascinated by the process that she kept leaning closer and closer to watch this never-ending stream of plastic emerging from my body. When I finally reached the end of the procedure she was probably only a foot from where the extraction was taking place.

At last, with a final exhausting tug, I pulled the last of the 24 inches of stent out of my body. (No exaggeration – we measured it. See the photo above if you want proof.) As it emerged, however, a back wave of urine that had been clogging the pipes behind it emerged in a manner not unlike a fire hose.

I did mention that Lor was only about a foot away at this point, yes?

As I sat there panting from the effort, Lor stood there dripping and blinking. “I suppose I should have anticipated that,” she said, and she wandered off to the bathroom to clean up.

TL;DR (Too Long, Didn’t Read)

I had multiple kidney stones. It hurt. I cried. Multiple surgeries were performed. I got stoned. Lor got wet. The end.

But, seriously, if you take nothing else away from this, take this piece of wisdom:

STAY HYDRATED.

Catch you all tomorrow,

  • Jeremy

NaBlogWriMo 5: The Morning After

Until recently, I never realized how exhausting politics could be.

I, like many of us, have spent the last two years in disbelief at our nation’s cultural regression. The election of Trump as president in 2016 somehow seemed to energize every single retrograde impulse we could have as a country. Empowered women? Nope, better not have any of those. Equal rights for those who don’t meet the “standard” definition of heterosexual marriage? Oh, heck no, let’s roll that stuff back. Embracing the growing multiculturalism of our country? Ewww – no, send ’em all back where they came from!

Never mind that most of “them” came from right here.

So, I settled down in front of the television set Tuesday night, waiting for the country to rise up and repudiate the madness that has emanated from the White House. 

And waited.

Then, I waited some more.

And, finally, after the hundredth refrain of “where is the blue wave?” from the political commentators, I gave up in frustration and went to bed. Apparently, this was just who we are as a nation, and I had better learn to deal with it.

In Search of the Blue Wave

I spent most of the day yesterday looking around the web, trying to piece together a clearer idea of what had happened the previous night.

And I discovered that “No Blue Wave” aside, we were actually not in as bad a shape as I had perceived on Election Day.

Yes, Gillum was defeated in Florida. Yes, Beto O’Rourke went down in Texas. And, yeah, we actually lost a few more Senate seats, despite my quiet hope that maybe we might actually gain a couple.

But even though Beto O’Rourke was defeated in Texas it was by a margin of less than 3% of the vote. With over 70% of those under 30 voting for him. Things are changing in what used to be the most reliable of Conservative strongholds.

And, Gillum didn’t win in Florida, this is true. But, in the midst of the national attention to his defeat, something had gone unnoticed by many of us, myself included.

Amendment 4 got voted into law in Florida. This returns the ability to vote to over a million citizens of Florida who were previously denied that right due to having been convicted of a felony. In Florida, just like everywhere else in the country, the majority of those serving time are minorities. And minorities currently tend to vote against all the things that Trump’s America stands for.

In a battleground state where elections seem to always come down to a difference of a hundred thousand votes or less, the citizens of Florida just returned the right to vote to over a million people who are not naturally inclined toward the current administration.

Encouraged by this discovery, I started looking for other good news. And, wow, did I find it.

The Year of The Woman

It is significant in and of itself that the House flipped back over to Democratic control. In an election where 23 seats needed to change hands to change the majority, 35 actually did so.

The majority of the districts that “flipped” were in the suburbs of various major metropolitan areas. And the #1 group that turned out in droves to drive these critical elections?

Women. Female suburban voters turned out in record numbers, and the majority of them were not voting in favor of our current administration.

It gets better, though. Not only was there a much higher number of female voters, but there was also a HUGE increase in female candidates. Women finally got tired of their 52% of the population being represented by legislative bodies that were over 75% male.

At last count, at the national level, 122 women had won elections for Gubernatorial, Senate, and House races. Still not an accurate representation of women in our population, but holy smoke is it a step in the right direction.

Heck, the only “good” news we had in the Senate races was that a previously Republican Senate seat in Nevada was flipped. The challenger? Jacklyn (“Jacky”) Sheryl Rosen.

Keep On Pushing

All across the country, there were signs of life.

Record numbers of young voters turned out. (Keep it up, young people! This is your future we’re talking about here!)

We elected our first pair of female Muslim representatives. Colorado, of all places, elected our nation’s first openly gay Governor.

We even got not one but TWO female Native American representatives to Congress – the first two in our nation’s history. The folks of Kansas voted in Sharice Davids, a member of the Ho-Chunk Nation. And I am especially proud to say that I got to help elect Deb Halaand, of Laguna Pueblo, to the 1st Congressional District here in New Mexico.

It was a pretty progressive night for both Kansas and New Mexico, I have to say. Kansas not only put in Ms. Davids, who is both Native American and lesbian, but they also flipped their state governorship from a Republican man to a Democrat woman. And New Mexico actually went whole hog into “blue” territory. We produced election victories not only for our first female Latina Democrat Governor, Michele Lujan-Grisham, but we also voted Democrat in all our state Congressional races.

We need to keep working for this kind of change, across the country. The House of Representatives can now get back to acting to apply the brakes on the President’s “Nationalist” (his word, not mine) agenda for our country. We can hopefully even start returning our focus to our underserved domestic issues.

There may not have been the “Blue Wave” that I and many others were hoping for. But I know as well as anyone that change takes time, despite our desire for instant solutions. We need to keep paying attention, keep talking to our elected representatives, and keep working for change. 

Because, meanwhile, the Republican party in Nevada just voted in a deceased pimp rather than vote for a female educator.

And that, my friends, is why we need to not quit now.

Catch you all tomorrow,

  • Jeremy

 

Oops!

Yeah, I know it is the NaBlogWriMo project and everything, but some days stuff just gets away from you. Not to worry, though! I have plenty of opinions to share on yesterday’s elections, and will be sharing them with you tomorrow. Sorry for the delay!

Too Much Editing, Not Enough Writing,

* Jeremy

NaBlogWriMo 4: Social Anexitee

(Yes, I know it is spelled wrong.)

I was chatting with a friend (via Facebook) about my propensity for standing in the corner by myself at our social gatherings. She wanted to know why I didn’t interact with the people around me more often.

“Not really my thing,” I wrote back. “Really, Lor is the rock star in the family,” I told her.

” I really don’t perceive that about you”, she said.

“No one becomes a writer because they love being ‘on stage'” was the only response I could think of.

“Touche,” she replied.

The Pathetic Life of the Rock and Roll Singer

The funny thing is, once upon a time, I was the “rock star” in the family. No, really. I was the lead vocalist (!) in a local cover band. For years we played the local bars and casinos. I soaked up comments about my “amazing” voice. Middle-aged women stuck twenty-dollar bills down my shirt and tried to kiss me. For most of a decade, I was a medium-sized fish in a very small pond. So…why the shift in my personality? What happened? Can my personality these days be blamed entirely on my broken brain?

Well, not really. See, here’s the secret – I’ve always suffered from social anxiety. Even when performing for dozens (and, in one notable case, thousands) of people. My wife and my former bandmates will happily regale you with tales of waiting for me to finish throwing up before every single gig for years. Once I was done puking, the show, as they say, could go on.

Even though I eventually got past my audience-fueled nauseau, I never really got any better. I had the coolest job in the world – fronting a rock and roll band. And I hated it. No, seriously. I didn’t hate the job itself, see. But, every night, I would find something to despise about our performance. My vocals were bad. The guitarist had flubbed a solo. The drummer was too loud. Our sound engineer had our PA set up all wrong.

I literally can’t remember a single performance where I came off stage and said: “Man, that was awesome!” I was still terrified of the audience and made sure I judged myself and my bandmates harshly before anyone else ever got a chance to.

It’s Quiet Here In The Corner

Today, I am really not much different. I am terrified that I am a horrible author. (What they call ‘Imposter’s Syndrome‘ in the writing business.) In social situations, I do my best to stay in the corner, to listen at least twice as much as I speak.  I am positive that I have nothing valuable to add to the conversation. After all, I know that no one is really interested in anything I have to say anyway.

I drive my friends and loved ones crazy. If you get a couple drinks in me, I suddenly become vivacious, witty, and humorous – I can be the life of the party. “Where,” my relations ask me, “are you hiding that person 99% of the time?”

In the corner. Over here. By the door. It’s quiet here in the corner.

I do my absolute best work one on one. For some reason, I am able to get past my neuroses when I am only dealing with a single person at a time. I find myself full of compassion, empathy, and insight.  I really feel like I am making a connection with the person I am speaking to.

Then you add a third person to the mix and it all goes to hell. I immediately retreat and try to listen to everyone else speak to one another. ‘Cause, you know, anxiety.

The Gamer’s Dilemma

So, why is this an issue worth addressing now, you might ask? After all, writing is a perfect outlet for someone like me, right? (And most of my fellow writers/introverts as well.) At the end of the day, I am really just telling myself stories, and writing them down. If I happen to share them with the world at large later, well, I don’t have to be there when they read them, right? (And you should have seen my melt-down when a good friend had me do a reading from Inheritance in front of maybe a dozen people. Hoo, boy.)

Here’s the problem: I happen to love other things beyond writing. And the main one is gaming.

Computer/console gaming is ok for me. Most of the time I simply remain in “Single Player Land.” No problem there, right?

But, as it happens, I am passionately interested in other kinds of gaming. Things like board games. Miniature-based games. Even Collectible Card Games. And those types of games require a very specific element…

Other people.

My brother (also an introvert) and I have begun discussing ways to jury-rig multiplayer games against one another. He lives a couple hundred miles away, so the logistics are challenging. Maybe leaving a game board set up somewhere 100% of the time then exchanging moves over the phone once a week. Or, possibly, doing miniatures-based games where we will take photos of the game boards and email them to one another, along with our “moves” for the turn.

All this to avoid doing something like heading down to our corner game stores and interacting with the groups of gamers already there. Or even (the horror) inviting other gamers into our homes to play, interacting with other human beings. Who might not like us or something.

The Pain Of Social Friction

Merriam-Webster defines “friction” quite simply as “the rubbing of one body against another.”

However, it then goes on to use the following example: “the friction of sandpaper on wood.”

So, really, friction isn’t about 2 bodies rubbing against one another. It is actually two bodies changing one another by their contact with one another. (Take a look at both the wood and the sandpaper after you’ve rubbed them together to get an idea what I am talking about.)

I think that social anxiety stems from a fear, not of coming into contact with other people, but a fear of being changed by our interactions with them.

What if these hypothetical gamers don’t like me? Will I be compelled to change who I am in order to be liked?

If I don’t change, does that mean that my interactions with other people are actually worthless? That I just glide across the surface of their lives, leaving no trace of myself and picking nothing up from them in return?

Heavy concepts to deal with just to manage to find some folks to play Warhammer or Munchkin with, right?

But they are important things to think about nonetheless. I personally can not interact with someone and be unchanged. And, am I willing to change, all in the name of a few hours of gaming?

So far, probably not. But I think the question is relevant for any interactions at all – whether at Tuesday night Canasta or around the Thanksgiving table. What are we willing to give up in order to socially interact? And what are we willing to accept in return?

We, as humans, are supposedly social above all else.

So why are there those of us, like me, who fear that social interchange more than we fear to be alone?

It bears some thinking about.

I’ll have to consider it right after I figure out how to play Settlers of Catan solo.

Catch you all tomorrow,

  • Jeremy