Since I moved to Atlanta, a lot of things in my life have changed. Mostly for the better; it’s really put new vim in my vigor and gotten me out of the house more. At the very least because I have to drive in to the office every day. So the move has been successful in getting me out of my introverted rut, but I still have a sense of, well, some kind of force acting against any momentum I might have built up. Let’s call it Ernesto. There’s this feeling that the frequency of opportunities in life will gradually diminish unless I take action to make things happen. God damned Ernesto, crimping my style!
It sounds straight out of a self-help book, but I don’t mean this in any kind of grand “life changing” way. It’s more like a yen for average everyday stuff like going to concerts and movies and out to dinner– and doing stuff that’s not one of those three. There are other things to do in the world, like golf and bowling and day trips to tar pits and… well, I guess there aren’t tar pits in Georgia but that’s all I can think of right this second; you get my drift.
I’ve been trying to gather a group of friends who will siphon some of that Ernesto away through their own activities that I’d be included in, but it’s not working as well as I’d hoped. I’d like to be surrounded by this swirl of events that I can choose to participate in or not, as I want. Alas, with this group of friends, who I’ve grown to appreciate and value enormously, I still often find myself in the position of instigator. At least that’s my perception, which of course may or may not be distorted by my ego, id, or whatever. But it feels like if something’s gonna go down, I’m the one who’s pushing. It’s not something I enjoy, really, although I can and will do and have done it. For examples, I’ve instigated a movie night, a dinner party, a Christmas party, a soapbox cart, and a reoccurring Thursday trivia/dinner/whatever sort of thing.
I’m not going to stop instigating, because the events that get instigated when I instigate them are really fun (well, they’re fun, at least) and I like being that guy who gets things going, but it’s tiring. It’s so great when someone else instigates something, and all I have to do is provide support and encouragement. Yeah I’ll go to that concert with you. Yeah I want to do activity X that doesn’t involve hiking.
(At least one person reading this will probably pause now and go “hey, I invite you to dinner and stuff and you say no all the time.” All I can say to that is, don’t stop inviting me, ’cause it’s really appreciated, even though I still don’t want to go to that vegetarian Indian restaurant.)
Lately I’ve felt the Ernesto reasserting itself; it’s been hard to instigate things. And hard to get my own self enthused when others play instigator, although I really really really didn’t want to a) hunt for Easter eggs or b) go to any kind of Easter-themed party today. I have terribly limited reserves of kitschy nostalgia for my youth; basically restricted to conversations about the Muppets and/or the Dukes of Hazzard.
I’ve learned from other projects, like Song Fight, just how difficult it is to get people interested when you’re starting from scratch. It’s like in “The Call of the Wild” when Buck is in the sled challenge and he has to break the ice from around the sled. People are kind of frozen in their own thing, and it’s really difficult to get them moving in a direction even slightly angled from their current path.
I like to think I’m game for most anything, but I know it’s not really true. I have my own path and to an extent it’s going to be hard to budge me from it. There are these ruts, and they’re comfy. Plus there’s the shyness. The fucking timidity that keeps me from just going up to people and saying “hi” even when they’ve basically said “come say hi.”
And it could be that I’m just blind. I tend to see lots and lots of possibilities, and can predict probabilities pretty well when they don’t involve me. Like “will people click that button?” I can give you a good answer. But “should I go over to my neighbor’s? It sounds like they’re having a party”– I have no idea. Somebody has to tell me to go, or explicitly invite me. It’s a bit of a problem. People assume I know it’s ok to just go ahead and do X, but it’s completely obscure to me how I should just know something like that. With women it makes me feel like I’m 12. “Does she like me? What if I pulled her hair, or broke her favorite toy? That would get her attention.” The risk looms enormous, and the probability of rejection, as analyzed in my head, is almost too high to bear. We’re all fucked up in one way or another, this is my variation.
Not to mention that sometimes I like being alone. At strategic times, of my own volition, when there’s something to occupy me that doesn’t require or lend itself to company. I like going to get a couple of slices of pizza and taking an hour or two to read a book, for example. I actually would rather not have a companion for that. Or going to the bookstore– it’s me time. Say that like a 70’s psychologist, not like a leprechaun.
But last night, a Saturday night, I spent alone rattling around in my house. Dithering. I dither. I watched TV, I played my guitar, I watched some more TV, I drank some beer, I checked my email. I checked my email again. And again. Because I’m waiting for the world to throw something at me. I’ll catch it, I promise! (I relish new workdays because I’ll wake up and things will have happened and I get to respond to them. My Inbox will have several items demanding my attention and no doubt about it I gotta act! Put that fire out! Ring the bell! Fire up the siren!)
Stupid of me. If I want to play catch in this unfriendly world, I’ve just gotta start throwing the ball then chasing after it myself, then throwing it again. Not as much fun with nobody tossing back, but at least I’ll be outside.
So with this new resolution… wait, let’s not call it a resolution. I hate fucking resolutions. They never stick. With this new attitude, I’ve decided to just start doing stuff and letting the chips fall where they may. It’s not so bad being the single guy at the wedding. Wait, that’s not on my list, ’cause I really fucking hate being the single guy at the wedding.
No, I’m not about to hook up with any of the bridesmaids or any of the single women at the wedding who are overcome with a mating frenzy. That’s a myth. A myth perpetrated to make me feel like a complete loser. Every wedding I’ve ever been to has been attended by a number of attractive women, yes– each one with a date. And I’m not That Guy, who can make time with a girl when she came with a date. Can’t and wouldn’t if I could. It’s a problem, I know, because it’s “too nice,” but becoming a bigger asshole isn’t on this list. It’s on a different list. I’ll get around to it someday.
Bah. Ok, let’s get on with this. With no further ado and because no Hogswallowing post is complete without some sort of list, I present the Things I’m Going To Get Back Into. These are activities that I’ve enjoyed in life prior to moving to Atlanta. Presence on this list doesn’t mean that an activity has been completely absent from my life in the last year and a half, but that it’s something I used to do quite often and the regularity and frequency were valuable to me. That’s what I want back.
Going to the Movies.
I’ve been to a lot of movies in Atlanta, but it’s not enough. I want to go at least once a week, and see just whatever. It could be that the whatever part is what I miss most, that it was the process and ritual of going to the movies that was valuable to me. And the time spent with friends who also enjoyed the process and ritual and I guess to put it in really disgusting terms, the cameraderie of it all.
I don’t think I’m going to get the cameraderie back, but I can reclaim part of the experience, and that’s going to mean that I go to the movies more often by myself. We used to do double features even, almost every week, because we’d see whatever and there were almost always at least two whatevers opening. But that’s probably going to be more alone-time than I can handle.
Of an occasion we’d drive in to Philadelphia on a Saturday and spend 8 hours watching all the independent movies we could. Four shows is about the limit in any one day, considering a break for dinner. We weren’t mentally ill, like the people in Cinemania, but we had some cinematic stamina. I miss it. I’m going to get a sliver of it back by just going to the movies more often, even if no one wants to come with me. (Or to be fair, as more often is the case, is free to come with me.)
A friend and I used to bowl about once a week, usually on Monday night. In winter, we’d get dinner at Red Lobster and then go bowl while we watched Monday Night Football. This was in Harrisburg PA so dinner options were a bit sparse, but since we were living way below our means we could afford to pig out at The Lob on a regular basis. It got to the point where I bought my own ball and shoes, and could bowl over 200 more often than every once in a while. It wasn’t my average or anything, but it stopped being a special event.
Among my friends in Atlanta, bowling is seen as a kind of odd thing to do. You go every once in a while, and the guy with his own ball and shoes is put on this pedestal even as he’s made to feel sort of weird for actually caring. My defense has been to really not care. It’s genuine though, not an act. When I’m bowling casually with friends, the score doesn’t matter at all– it never did before either. The score was a way to measure progress, becauses I was actually trying to get better at something, while spending time with a friend. Anyway, I’m going bowl more often. Probably by myself, because even though everyone I know (who likes bowling even a little) says “let’s do this more often” when they’re in the moment, they don’t really mean it. People are just like that in general, but particularly about bowling.
I’m no avid golfer, but I used to go around the “Par 3” course pretty often. Par 3 is sometimes called “Pitch n’ Put,” and is kind of a small-scale version of golf. It’s real golf, you play on real grass that’s manicured, you hit the ball and it flies and then you putt and then you bitch and moan and curse the attendant for giving you a faulty club. But the holes are all Par 3, meaning they’re 100 yards, 150, something like that. And you only use a 9-iron and a putter. Or a wedge and a putter. You get the drift.
I loved playing pitch n’ putt, and I’d love to get back into playing regular golf too. I lived in California for a brief time, and played golf quite often with a family friend who loaned me shoes and clubs. It was barely affordable, but I totally got into it. On a driving range, I can hit the ball pretty far. I want to start golfing again, even if it’s just on a Par 3 course and by myself. Gotta buy me some clubs. Just a starter set- a couple irons, a wedge, something like a 3-wood maybe, and a putter.
I dunno what it’s like down here in the south, but in the North East you have your pick of several miniature golf courses in any particular area. I don’t even know if there are any course in Atlanta. Where I lived there were at least three to choose from, one of which was an actual grass course. Still miniature golf, but there were no plastic animal hazards– it was more like a Lilliputian golf course where monsters like you and I would stride our giant strides and putt our giant balls into the vast abyss of a cup while tiny peasants run for cover. Poor Lilliputians, can’t even have a golf course to themselves without some brobdingnagian jackasses ruining everything.
Uh, anyway, I want to go miniature golfing, but this is one I can’t just go do by myself. Mini-golf is no fun by yourself. At least for me. I get pretty apathetic by the back 9 of any miniature golf course, and I need some friends along to chat with and compete against. Yeah, compete against. I do like competing in miniature golf, probably because it’s a fairly level playing field and… I dunno. It’s hard to explain. I’m hardly ever competitive, but I am when playing miniature golf. Go figure.
Who knows if there’s even a decent miniature golf course in Atlanta. And seeing as this is one that I don’t want to do by myself, I guess my goal for it is just to add “miniature golf” to the list of stuff I suggest as activities for my friends. At least I squoze “brobdingnagian” in there. Finally.
I don’t mean rock concerts either. I’ve been to more rock concerts since moving to Atlanta than I had been to in, well, probably my entire life up to the move. And that’s awesome; I love it.
But I haven’t been to the symphony since I moved here. In my previous life, in Pennsylvania, I went to classical music concerts on a regular basis. Usually I was going to hear friends play, or I was playing in them myself. But on occasion we’d go hear something just because it was novel or interesting, or because it was a piece we wanted to hear.
This week while walking to lunch the big ugly LED sign in front of the Woodruff Arts Center was advertising the symphony. I saw for a moment the words “Rite of Spring” and flashed back to the first real “date” I went on with one of my ex-girlfriends. It was to see the Harrisburg Symphony play Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring.” Our friend Gail was playing first bassoon, with that gigantic solo in the beginning, but that was just a bonus. We went to hear the piece.
It’s too late for me to hear the Atlanta Symphony perform “Rite of Spring”, but next week they’re playing Grieg’s “Peer Gynt” suites, and some Borodin. The Grieg’s been done to death, but it’s always fun to hear “In the Hall of the Mountain King” done well, and who doesn’t like Borodin? Nobody doesn’t like Borodin. Maybe I’ll buy a seat in the gallery one night.
There you have it. Not a world-shaking list by any means. Nothing of giant import, no lifestyle alterations required, I’m not going vegan, I’m not resolving to work out more often. I just want to add back into my life some of the good things from my past. Maybe it won’t work, and I’m probably underestimating the importance of having friends along for these activites.
Actually I don’t think I am, because I do realize that the activities themselves were only a fraction of the reason they were so important to me. But perhaps by just going ahead and doing these things, I’ll be able to reminisce and maybe, wouldn’t it be amazing if, hopefully, I might through sheer force of momentum, attract some people along for the ride and defeat the evil Ernesto. Thought I forgot about Ernesto, didn’t you?
Mind you, if I acquire a girlfriend all this shit goes out the window. Oh, and happy Easter.