Pros-only

Today I begin training the new co-op! She’ll be here in about an hour. Jeez. It feels like there’s so much to learn. I’ve been here for six months and I’m still learning; I just learned the right way to crop photos about two weeks ago!

The co-op guide book is like the inside cover of a book you get in school, signed with students’ names from years and years ago. There are three different highlighter colors, several notes and snarky tips in the margins, and so many post its it is hard to navigate. When the guide book needs its own guide book, you know you’re in trouble.

I basically made her a whole new one, with fresh pages and clean type, changing all the differences between the old system and the new.

Of course, she’ll have more than crap computers to worry about. The Globe is moving location near the end of her co-op. Half the cubicles that were here when I began are now either empty or taken out altogether. When I began there were four staff writers in regionals, now there aren’t any.

Well. No matter. It’s going to be a long day, but a fun one. I do wish we had more than three days.

My last day is Friday. It feels like senior year of high school all over again, which I used to bemoan as a year of lasts. Last drama performance, last orchestra concert, last this, last that. It’s similar here, though instead of four years it was only half of one.

Whenever things end, I try to tell myself that it’s okay. It’s just making room for the next grand adventure. I assure myself that I will find something else, something amazing and awesome and better. Even when things don’t seem like they’ll get better, I promise myself that they will.

I make a pros list, without an accompanying cons list. Right now, some top pros are spending more time with my family and friends, not having to wake up at 6 to drive an hour into Boston, not having to do all the tedious intern duties, and being able to freelance more.

Yeah. It’s a pros-only sort of time.

Introvert Boutique

Someone needs to invent a boutique for introverts.

I hate making small talk while someone’s cutting my hair. I hate piping up to ask for a change. Do you look at yourself in the mirror? Is it okay to take your arms out from under the cape thing they put you in?

And that’s just a haircut. My mother loves taking me out to get my nails done, but I outright refuse. Someone not a foot from your face, and you’re not allowed to move your hands? I feel so disgusting, making someone care to my hands while I look over their shoulder at the television, but I have no idea what to say to them so I just fall silent.

Massages are the worst—and I’ve never gone for one. I just can’t. Such an intimate thing, and what are you expected to say? Is it awkward to say that something feels good? Are you supposed to make noises, little moans and things, or stay silent? Massages have so many difficult social cues to pay attention to, and that’s not fun, that’s not relaxing. I would love to have one, but I’m too scared!

I vote on creating spas for introverts. An introvert boutique, an introvert salon.

The rooms in this imaginary spa are filled with soft music so it’s not an awkward silence. The lights are soft, the walls are peach. The chairs are comfortable. After a brief consultation to understand what you want in your haircut, manicure, massage, etc., the person who works there assures you that they expect silence, and they don’t mind it or find it awkward. They say that it is to foster a peaceful atmosphere. They say that they will not judge you if you do not smile or speak, and will take you for your word if you say you like it even if you may not seem to in the moment.

However, they say, please do interrupt the silence to notify them of any pain you are feeling or to correct them on anything they are doing wrong.

In the massage/facial area, they give you a nice little mask so you don’t have to worry about seeing them or them looking at you. They assure you that they do not mind if you make noises, or if you don’t. They say they will only say something if it sounds like you are in pain. In the manicure/haircut area, they have a television as well as the masks, so you can choose to either relax while they do their work or keep a keen eye out to correct them (especially with the haircut). They assure you that they will not be insulted either way.

At the end, they ask if you are satisfied. If you are not, feel free to say so. They will not be offended, and will do all they can to help you.

To pay, you may use any form of payment you wish. You do not have to approach the specific employee to tip them—in fact, tips are not allowed. The boutique pays them a flat rate plus commission, so you don’t have to worry about them not getting paid. You are welcome to write a short note of thanks if you wish, but there is no pressure.

After you are done, you are free to spend as long as you like in the meditation room in the back. It is silent here, too, save for a bit of peaceful music. It is warm, made of rich golden wood and peppered with canvas cushions. Once you feel relaxed and ready to face the day, you may leave without a goodbye and go about your day.

Doesn’t that sound like an idea spa day? Nothing sounds more relaxing than knowing exactly what is expected of you, and having that expectation be, “enjoy yourself in peaceful silence.” I can just imagine the zen-like set up, with plants in all the windows and a little rock fountain in the back.

I know part of being an introvert is learning how to face the world anyway. But I think that a business so focused on comfort and relaxation would do good to cater to the introverted crowd.

Dang. Now I really want to go.

In Spanish, the word for…: Conversation starters

Odds are, you know at least part of a foreign language. Whether you’re bi- or tri-lingual, a regular polyglot, or only remember the basics from a high school French class, you most likely remember something, and more often than not that word means “poop.”

The  words people remember from languages they don’t use much are the fun words. Swear words, strange idioms, words that are plain fun to say: these are the words that we remember best.

Beyond some greetings and counting to ten, all I remember from my middle school Spanish class is how to say pencil sharpeners: Las sacapuntas. Why? Because it’s so much fun to say! Sacapuntas, sacapuntas. The fun rhythm made me smile then, and still makes me smile today.

When I moved on to American Sign Language, you can bet your bottom dollar that when showing friends what I’ve learned, I went straight to “horny,” “whore,” “bullshit.” It’s fun to know how to swear in secret—and in this case, in silence.

The first sentence I learned in German was Ich bin Blau: I am drunk. My friend taught me at a high school lunch one day.

My friend’s sister who studied abroad in Italy once told us of an Italian idiom that is equivalent “rose tinted glasses:” “Avere gli occhi foderati di prosciutto.” It’s funny because it is literally translated as “to have your eyes wrapped in ham.”

Language is not just important and brain-expanding; it can be a load of fun, too. Bringing up tongue twisters, swear words, and fun phrases in foreign languages can be a light-hearted conversation starter that leads into a linguistic parade. Bring your dictionaries!

Pool

Last night was one of those nights that you know will become a good memory even while it’s happening.

We were playing pool. Two close friends and two I barely knew. We were singing Queen, we were eating chips and pizza. The whole room was fuzzy, hazy, warm.

It was late at night and dark, but I wasn’t feeling low energy yet. Though I had been “on” for so long, I didn’t want the night to end. That’s such a rarity for me.

Something about playing pool gives off vibes of sophistication and straight cool; perhaps it’s its iconic status in film, or the classic colors of the balls and table, or the distinctive sound of a solid shot rolling across the table. I didn’t even play–I’m terrible at pool–but its aura alone helped keep my energy up and flowing.

Why? Why doesn’t pool drain me like a party or normal times with people?

It came to me then. It’s like a board game.

It’s Connect Four or checkers, just on a bigger scale. It’s one on one, far more of a game than a sport. It’s a board game, which I love. The sort of thing that gives me energy, that doesn’t make me want to be alone.

Introverts, give pool a shot:)

Heart of Steel: Short Fic Friday

John slammed the door to his car, sucked in all the air his lungs could hold, and let out a loud, violent cough. Sweet, sweet relief. He could breathe, the tickle in his throat that he had been fighting all night was finally clear.

“Hello,” he said to himself, his voice markedly softer than his hacking. Yes, his voice was back to normal. It sounded less sexy unclouded by phlegm. She probably didn’t notice, either way.

“Hi.”

John jumped, whipped his head to the right. Shit. There she was, just outside his passenger door. He thought she had gotten in her own car already. Did she hear that terrible cough? She was just as beautiful as her picture on the site, just like the rest.

“Sorry,” he said, mind racing, neck sweating. “I didn’t see you. I…sorry. I’m just…” She stared politely, letting him finish. “Nervous. I’m not good at this.”

“No worries. Mind if I join you? We still have some time.”

John unlocked the door. She slid in, her perfect body sinking into the black leather. John wrapped his fingers around the wheel. He couldn’t bear to look at her.

“Did you enjoy tonight?”

She was looking right at him. Her eyes glowed synthetic white light. She sat so straight.

“Yes. I’m sorry. I don’t know why I can’t…I don’t know how to do this.”

“Let’s just drive, and talk. No big deal.”

He pulled out of the parking garage. He felt his sickness welling in his throat again. Just another thing to worry about on such a strange date. He would drive until she was satiated, delete her number, delete his profile from the site. His fault for trying something new, he supposed. No, Walt’s fault for telling him it was normal. He and Ronnie had never been normal.

Well. The night was pretty. There weren’t many cars, and certainly not many with people inside of them. John loved driving around all the autocars. They were so slow and even that he could weave between them like a stitching needle.

Her metallic skin reflected the brake lights and seemed striped with red, white, yellow. She was twiddling her thumbs in her lap. He wondered if she, too, had anxiety. He wished she would slouch a little.

“What are you thinking?” He asked her. What a strange question. He could remember asking Ronnie if she could think, at all. Walt had nearly thrown him out of the house.

“I like your suit,” she said. “I like how it fits you.”

“I like your dress,” he replied, and it was true. The rich red looked lovely in the restaurant, and in the dark night it was dulled to a mahogany and complemented her silver skin and rope-like brown hair. He wanted to ask what made her have preferences, if they were programmed into her. He wondered if she knew. He wondered if she’d lie about it. He wondered if it mattered…of course it mattered.

The music was low, pulsing. She tapped the toe of a high heel to the beat.

“Did you want to go anywhere?”

“No,” she said, leaning her head back against the seat. “I just love to drive with humans. It’s quite a lot of fun. And, I like spending time with you. I know you’re nervous. And I know you probably miss her…”

John stared straight ahead. The red and white city lights swam in his vision, formed a young Lisa’s dying face. Younger, her wedding veil, her mother, his mother, the vomit, the blood, their daughter, all dying.

Then this thing. The Replacement, sipping a drink one part vodka three parts Ecofuel. The way she tried to move like a woman. The way they all did, how they almost got it. The way they wore vintage dresses because no one bothered designing new ones. The way they now seemed so short and skinny and pretty after years without the flesh and blood equivalent. How to talk to a shell of something that no longer exists? How to talk to a replication? How to talk to a made-to-order immortal?

How to touch one? How to love one?

“I just want you to know that I get it,” she said. “I might not feel it as intensely, but I understand. And…I’m here for you.”

John nodded. “Thank you…I have to think. Perhaps it’s still too early for me.”

She nodded too. He didn’t turn the car around yet, though. Still thinking. If he dropped her off back at the restaurant, she would be gone until he called again. For now, she was here. It had been so long since he’d been alone in a car with a woman, and though it was awkward he had to admit it was nice. She was unsettlingly pretty. He wished she was plumper, or had asymmetrical breasts or a strange birthmark, or short eyelashes or limp hair.

He was driving over the bridge now, and the water shone below like a rippling mirror. He wanted uncertainty nearly as much as he wanted to kiss her. He wanted her to short circuit all her programming, especially the programming telling her not to mind that she’s programmed. He knew that despite her silver color she was warm, soft, fleshy, with a working womb that he was being told left and right to utilize. He didn’t want a baby. He didn’t want a sure thing. He half wanted her to reject him.

She placed two nimble fingers on the radio and turned it two notches.

“Do you mind?” she asked. “I hate this song.”

He shook his head. “Me too.”

The song changed twice, and she let it rest.

“Mm,” she said, stretching her arms and closing her eyes. She sang along, softly, a bit off tune. John sped up, cut off another autocar. Maybe, he mused, he’d keep driving through the night. What was the use in turning around, anyhow?

Can you do this?: Conversation Starters

I love showing off my weird left thumb. It’s such a funny thing that people find interesting. I don’t know if it’s double jointed or what, but I can move it in ways my other thumb can’t, and make it look rather short and unnaturally bent. It’s a detail about me that serves as nothing more than a conversation point—and perhaps a slight advantage at video games.

Weird body part talents are a strangely common subject of conversation, probably because everyone has at least one. We all know someone with a hyper-extended knee or double jointed arms or eyes that can cross to the center one at a time. Maybe you can crack every joint in your body, or curl your tongue like an accordion, or lick your elbow. Maybe you can hook your foot behind your head or bend your fingers back to touch your wrist or wiggle your ears and nose. Or do whatever this is:

human-pretzel.jpg

Bringing these talents up in the right context can lead to tons of fun. One person mentions that they can raise their eyebrows independently and then the whole group is full of unsuccessful, hilarious attempts to replicate it. It can lead to tons of other fun body topics, like spot on Kermit the Frog impressions and weird freckle formations.

The best part about weird body talents is that it has nothing to do with skill. One cannot teach their shoulders to be double jointed; you can either do it or you can’t. It doesn’t make anyone feel bad.

More of a talent show than a competition, this conversation starter hinges on the importance of independence. It celebrates weirdness and encourages individuality! Do keep in mind, however, that this is best suited for an informal gathering of family or friends. Probably don’t whip this out at a business cocktail party.

The best way I’ve found to start this conversation is asking a kid to replicate your funny. Whether they can do it or not, it gets everyone laughing and allows you to participate without being the center of attention for too long.

Best of luck, and feel free to share your weird talents below. I know you have them!

Acceptance

You have me in denial

Daily begging for you back.

I’m angry that you never showed

A warning of attack.

It’s depressing that I’ll never know

What you would’ve become.

I’m waiting for acceptance

That I doubt will ever come.

 

What words that could have calmed you?

Where were you all last week?

Am I hopeless as I’m feeling?

Did you ever think to speak?

It’s depressing that you fought with darkness

While flashing me a smile.

I’m waiting for acceptance

But it’s taking quite awhile.

 

Perhaps I’m being selfish

Or perhaps I’m being vain.

But I can’t help but feel guilty

That I never saw your pain.

It’s depressing that you sat beside me

Just that afternoon.

I’m waiting for acceptance

That I hope is coming soon.

 

I know these words are futile

As they’re words you’ll never read.

But writing out my feelings

Seems to be just what I need.

Thank you for the time we had.

You’re one I won’t forget.

I’m sad but I’m surviving—

Though I can’t accept it yet.

Orlando

In the wake of my own personal tragedy, Orlando hits hard. It is hard to imagine my grief, already nearly unbearable, amplified by 50. Truly awful.

I’m not going to write about any political agenda, or point fingers, or argue about who has the “right” to grieve, or whose fault it is, or what this is really about, because I’m tired of the insincerity of Facebook and honestly I’m still too struck by the tragedy of the loss of life.

I am just going to say that this is a terrible thing that we are all feeling, and my heart goes out to the victims and their families.

Top 5 fashion tips for the male introvert

Hello, handsome gentlemen! I’m a strong proponent of the idea that just because someone is introverted doesn’t mean they don’t like people. It just means that they enjoy and require some time alone, and being surrounded by people for too long can be tiring.

Our personal style tells the world what kind of person we are. For an introvert who wants to feel good about how he looks but also might want to fade into the background to recharge after awhile, the best outfit is one that is stylish, but not too loud or bright. Something flexible, that allows you to both stand out and hide away when you want to.

These are my top five fashion choices for the male introvert! And don’t worry, girls, I have a post for female fashion choices too—click here!

For anyone who doesn’t identify as either gender, don’t fret! The tips are pretty gender neutral. Read both and apply them as you see fit, picking some from each and creating a fashion collage just for you:).

5. Simplicity

Men, I know fashion is a bit more limited for you than for the ladies. There’s simply not as many choices. While women get to choose from a wide array of shoes and pants and skirts and tops and dresses and jewelry and accessories and makeup and hairstyles, men are unfortunately given less opportunity for individuality. This is okay! It allows you to be perfectly stylish, and yet able to fade into the crowd. A black suit may look similar to other black suits, but a well fitted one can make you look amazing. Subtle changes to the simple look—a semi-vibrant tie, a nice watch—can make you stand out from a crowd just enough to keep your personality without attracting too much attention.

4. Removable statement piece

The best part about such a limited palette to work with means that a small statement piece goes a long way. I already mentioned the semi-vibrant tie and nice watch, but have you considered cufflinks? A vintage hat for outside? Something that you can take off when you want to get out of the spot light but allows for compliments otherwise make you both stylish and in control.

3. Black

Black is the new black, because black is never out of style—especially for men. While bright colors are great when you’re feeling bright, after awhile you can begin to feel like you’re wearing a costume. When your clothes don’t reflect how you feel, you can begin to feel worse, faster, as insecurities about how you look kick in. Black and dark colors are versatile, and can say “talk to me!” just as easily as “I need a break.” Whereas a yellow or pink shirt signals that you’re “on,” all the time, darker colors give you more of an option.

2. Make-up

Hear me out! When you’re going out and trying to decide what to wear, the best tip is to wear something that makes you feel handsome. You want to feel good about how you look, no matter what you’re wearing. If you have acne, that can be hard to accomplish. I’m not saying to splash on the mascara, but a dab of concealer can make all the difference. If you’re nervous, have a female friend, family member, or significant other help you buy some that matches your skin tone. If you live with a female family member, their skin tone is likely similar to yours, and you could ask to borrow it (or ask them to apply it for you). It may be a bit unconventional, but a little make up goes a long way in both the looks and confidence department. If you want to keep experimenting, a light eyeliner can really bring out the eyes without making it look too feminine. Ask an experienced make up user to teach you how at first; using subtle eyeliner subtly can be tricky. In the same vein, a tweezer and five minutes can change not just your eyebrows, but your whole life.

1. Layers

Layers are pretty high up on the women’s list as well—it’s a pretty gender-neutral tip. It’s natural to feel safer, more comfortable, and more secure when your body is covered up. It also offers versatility, like the removable statement piece. You can have your light shirt for when you’re “on,” and then put on a black jacket for when you’re “off.”  Depending on your preference, a beard could also serve this purpose by “hiding” your face from people—though, if you don’t normally have a beard, growing one may make you feel more uncomfortable. The goal is to wear an outfit that helps you, not hinders you. Layers give you the option to change your outfit to match your emotions. A nice layer can keep you stylish and give you self-confidence. The bottom line is, dress for confidence!

Top 5 fashion tips for the female introvert

Hello, beautiful ladies! I’m a strong proponent of the idea that just because someone is introverted doesn’t mean they don’t like people. It just means that they enjoy and require some time alone, and being surrounded by people for too long can be tiring.

Our personal style tells the world what kind of person we are. For an introvert who wants to feel good about how she looks but also might want to fade into the background to recharge after awhile, the best outfit is one that is stylish, but not too loud or bright. Something flexible, that allows you to both stand out and hide away when you want to.

These are my top five fashion choices for the female introvert! And don’t worry, boys, I have a post for male fashion choices too—click here!

For anyone who doesn’t identify as either gender, don’t fret! The tips are pretty gender neutral. Read both and apply them as you see fit, picking some from each and creating a fashion collage just for you:).

5. Anything that gives you confidence

This may be rather vague, but it’s one of the best tips I can give. While you want your clothing to look nice, you do not want to have to think about it all night. Your clothing should not be a source of anxiety. If this dress looks nice from the front but not from the side, if you can kind of see through it in the right light, if you can barely walk in those heels, if you have to keep tugging the dress up or down, if you’re not sure about this top with that skirt, if you’re not sure if this is too dressy or too casual or if you like it at all—don’t wear it. If you expect yourself to want to hide away for a portion of the night, save the brighter, flashier clothes for a different occasion. You’ll look and feel better in an old classic than in a new, risky dress that you’re not sure about.

4. Pockets!

I know when I’m at a party, I never know what to do with my hands. With pockets, you can hide your hands and remain looking casual and collected. Dresses with pockets are all the rage now, and it reduces the need for a handbag you might lose. Pockets are versatile, and allow you to be versatile as well. They can comfort you when you’re in the spotlight, and anchor you when you begin to feel worn out. Plus, they’re just so darn cute.

3. Statement earrings

Earrings are a great place to put the focal point of your outfit. They draw the eye up to your face but also allow you to look off to the side when people admire them. No awkward smile as they gush about your shirt—you can fiddle with your earrings or tilt your head to let them see better, remaining poised and confident. Also, you can rest assured that they’re complimenting your earrings and not making a comment about your body (“Nice skirt” can sometimes get uncomfortable). The best thing about statement earrings is that they’re like a superhero costume. You can wear them when you want to be in the spotlight, and then quickly and easily remove them when you want to blend into the crowd. Even easier, if you have long hair you can just let it fall over your ears when you’re getting tired of attention. Keeping the energy in an easily disposable accessory can help you feel comfortable and in control.

2. Layers

When I begin feeling weary of company, covering my body usually makes me feel better. It’s also a way to choose whether you want to be “on” or “off.” Cardigans, sweaters, and jackets don’t make your outfit worse, it just makes your body less visible, and that can help you feel more confident. The most important thing to remember is that fashion isn’t about what others think, but it’s about how you feel, and the jacket lets you project how you feel while your feelings change over time. Feel open and happy and free? No jacket tells that to people. Want to get out of the spotlight? Jacket on tells that to people. The jacket gives you a choice, which keeps you in control of your night.

1. Scarves

Well, I’m biased. I love scarves, and wearing them makes me feel both stylish and comfortable. Wearing a scarf is sort of like having a security blanket for me. I like it because it acts like a layer while keeping things light and easy, and I can also fiddle with it, giving my hands something to do, but mostly I like wearing scarves because it’s just something that I’m used to. That’s the true #1. If you usually keep your hair up, then wear your hair up. If you usually wear a watch, wear a watch. Keep a little security blanket on you, to keep you calm when things get stressful. A little normalcy to a unique outfit can keep your personality front and center, no matter what you’re wearing.